Finalist! / by Stephen Ball

There's exciting news for this week's blog - one of my photos has made it to the final of the Royal Meteorological Society's annual 'Weather Photographer of the Year' competition, run in conjunction with the Royal Photographic Society.  This year, the Royal Met Soc received around 2,000 entries, with 45 images making it to the final, one of these being mine!

The image was taken last July, from the top deck of the Sunborn Yacht Hotel in Ocean Village, Gibraltar.  Some intense thunderstorms had drifted North from Morocco and I wanted to get a good vantage point as the skies were starting to look very interesting as I headed out.  By the time I got up to the top of the Sunborn, the skies were looking very interesting indeed and, soon after, the shelf cloud featured in my photo appeared, draped across Ocean Village Marina like a horizontal tornado! I was shooting with my Nikon D800 as usual and shot this very wide at 15mm, f/11 and ISO100.  I wanted to get as much of the sky in as possible as it was really spectacular, but also wanted to include some of Ocean Village etc to give it some context.  Some big fat raindrops were also starting to fall, sending the hotel guests running from the top sundeck, however I managed to find a spot with some shelter overhead so I could keep shooting - I didn't want to have to go inside and shoot through the glass in a window as this can affect your image and cause reflections etc.  It was quite a tricky shot as there was a high dynamic range across the scene....from dark cloud to some very bright areas of diffused sun.  I didn't know how long the shelf cloud would last so didn't have time to try a lot of settings and had to get the shot as best as I could.  Some post processing work in Lightroom allowed me to recover some of the brighter highlights and also to straighten the lines/angles as the picture was taken with the camera not level with the ground given my elevated position - this introduces convergence, depending upon how much the camera is moved from a level position.  This was particularly relevant for this image as it was taken with the ultra-wide angle Tamron 15-30mm lens, at 15mm.

The competition has attracted interest across the media - I've put a few links to media coverage below:-


The winner will be chosen from the 45 images in the final, with the announcement to be made on 20th September.  Fingers crossed!