(click to see larger and a bit better…Wordpress re-sizing makes this one a tad too dark in places)

The image I posted yesterday evoked some awesome comments from you guys about what might be wrong with the composition of the scene. It came down to the foreground element. And over the course of the comments, it became clear that the foreground in a landscape photo can make it or break it.

I wanted to thank you all for your input. I honestly wasn’t able to put a finger on it until your thoughts helped me realize I was thinking the same thing all along.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ve probably heard me talk about foreground elements while I’m out storm/weather chasing. Often you are in such a hurry to capture a scene before it changes that you run around like a crazy person looking for a special object to include in your photo…like a cactus, or rock, or abandoned building…whatever. I love this part of it, but sometimes you just can’t find something awesome.

The image above was taken in the early morning of February 19th. The sky were amazingly thick from an approaching storm, but what was incredible was some of light from the rising sun was hitting the bottom of these clouds, giving them those orange, purple and red tones. You couldn’t even see where the hole in the clouds was for the light to shine through. It just felt so dark.

Ironically, I’ve converted this to black and white because I like drama in my stormchasing photos and these clouds look more foreboding and mysterious void of color. The foreground in this shot is very subtle, but the reason I chose it was the rippled in the ground leading out towards the horizon. I’m not sure where they were from…perhaps some heavy rains created some running water and the waves were formed.

We’ve entered the driest time of the year for Arizona, so I’ll be looking back at some older weather images I haven’t processed yet and post them in the coming weeks. Otherwise I’ll go  nuts without any storms to shoot!

Although…if things line up in the next few weeks out in the midwest, I’ll be taking a 3-4 day trip out there to stormchase…and I cannot wait for that!

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/13)


  • Jason Hines

    Great stuff Mike. The textures of the clouds seem to work really well the ones on the ground. I also love the darkness.

  • Chris Nitz

    Those are some good looking clouds man! Love how much the B/W really ups the dramatic feel for them.

  • Chris DeAngelis

    Very omminous. Love the use of B&W here along with the low perspective! Hope you can get out for some chasing soon!

  • Kristi Hines

    The B&W does work really well at conveying the seriousness of the impending storm. If it were in color, I would be thinking how beautiful it was. Now I almost feel the tension of the storm building. Nice work!

  • Chris Frailey

    Love the b&w. Mike are you sure you need more storm pics? I’m guessing you are sitting on enough to keep you busy for awhile. 😉

  • Jesse

    Well, the foreground definitely draws you into this shot. Love the ripples and they lead you right through the frame.

  • Scott Ackerman

    Cool shot man. Love the conversion!

  • Brian Furbush

    Cool shot Mike…B&W definitely helps this shot out and makes it a tad bit more ominous.

  • Mark Garbowski

    It’s hard to go wrong putting the camera down low on the ground. I’ve done it, but it’s hard.