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How the magic is done - The gathering storm

Franz Schumacher is an Art Director and industrial photographer with a great sense for being at the right place at the right time. Normally you wouldn't perhaps think that being in the middle of a thunderstorm would fit into that category, but if you are Franz Schumacher with a camera in your hand, it's exacly the right place to be. Today he will tell us how he created his omnius looking photo "Kick-off spring!".


Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24 mm, 1/80sec, aperture f/3.2, ISO 100

The Strohgaeu region located in the south western part of Germany is a wide open plain-like landscape similar to a prairie. It is mainly an agriculture area with what seems like endless fields of grain, oat and rape crops that are grown. The region is surrounded by the Schwarzwald (black forest) in the south-west, the hills of the Stuttgart region in the east (Filderebenen and Schwaebische Alb) which generally protects the region from the worst weather however, it is not immune from the occasional storms.

The springtime often produces spectacular thunderstorms when the right mix of atmospheric conditions are created from the surrounding landscape features.

I live in this countryside and am very familiar with these storms so I have quite a bit of experience with them, so it's no accident that I can create a photograph like "Kick off Spring!".

It's a single shot with quite a bit of planning going into making it. I often observe the weather forecasts and the weather conditions very carefully then make the decision to go to the preferred location hours before the weather front arrives allowing me to wait for the approaching storms. This was exactly what happened on this occasion to make "Kick off Spring!".

All my planning does not always pay off though, with no luck after hours of waiting and I have to eventually leave without a shot but this day was different. Slowly the weather front come from Schwarzwald to the Strohgaeu and increased speed because of the hot air in the Strohgaeu plain. After a few minutes a whirlwind developed and it began to hail. I hoped that the whirlwind would move more in my direction but the hailstones were so heavy that the visibility of the whirlwind decreased completely. After approximately 30 shots I had to leave because the hailstones were too heavy.

I searched out and planned this shot and had a clear idea what I wanted to achieve.

I took this image in the first week in May so I think the title is quite appropriate for the time of year and mood of the image.

With this image as well as my other images I want to show the connection of nature and natural power that seems to be lost for us humans because of our over-civilisation.

I'm a nature-loving person and feel attracted to nature and have been since my childhood, especially in extreme weather conditions such as in this image.

I processed the image on a Mac using Photoshop CS4; made minor adjustments to the brightness and contrast, no other adjustments were necessary.

By profession Franz Schumacher is a graphic designer (art director) and industrial photographer specialising in product, event, appliqué and portrait photography.

It is a fine image Franz. Your persistence paid off! As photographers we can plan and hope that mother nature will provide great skies and drama but she is often unpredictable. Your were fortunate to have a very nice dark cloud with a funnel and a patch of sunlight that adds balance and drama. Bravo, Franz!