Facing Down a Monster — Wall Cloud near Collyer, Kansas
Two photographers hunker down in the face of a violent oncoming thunderstorm. This ragged, spinning wall cloud slid by just to the north, dropping a funnel as it did so.
This was one of the tougher shooting situations I've faced. The fierce wind made it difficult to stand — these photos were taken from a kneeling position. The situation was unfolding far too quickly to set up a tripod, so the storm's darkness necessitated a high ISO. These photos were saved only by a generous dose of noise reduction.
I was wearing a tight-fitting woolen hat to restrain my hair. The wind plucked it off my head. The last time I saw it, my hat was hurtling above the wheat field, heading for the funnel.
As the storm made its closest approach, the wind reached its peak. Dirt from the neighboring field pelted me. At this point, eyes filled with grit, I was shooting blind.
This last photo is a mess — tilted, motion-blurred, out of focus. And yet, I like it, despite — indeed, because of — its flaws. It captures those frenzied few seconds in a way a technically perfect image never could.