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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 08/ 3/2008

Photography: Storms From 30,000 Feet

By Ian Livingston

IMG_5571.jpg
Classic strong to severe thunderstorm southeast of the area around 3:15 p.m. one week ago.

As severe weather was passing through the area last Sunday, I was inbound on a flight returning from a trip to Florida. Though I was unhappy with the delay in landing caused by the storminess, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to shoot some thunderstorm photos from the air. Numerous cloud features were evident, and a unique opportunity to capture a "rainbow" from the sky presented itself.

Keep reading for more storm photos, and see our full forecast for upcoming weather conditions across the area.

I checked D.C. area radar through my cell phone before departing Tampa, Fl. and knew it was likely the storms would be to the east of the region upon arrival. I decided to sit on the right side of the plane to ensure I would get a good view to the east, and I sat far enough behind the wing to be able to take photos without having it in the image (unless I chose to add it -- as in one below, for scale).

All photographs were taken at ISO 100 with various shutter speeds between 1/400 second and 1/800 second. I used a zoom lens to be able to isolate various features. Fast shutter speeds allowed for fairly crisp images, but when shooting from a plane: always remember not to allow the camera to rest on the window or plane surface because of vibration. Photographing storms to the east during late afternoon had the added bonus of the sun behind the camera, which front-lit the clouds.

See the image captions for descriptions and links to more information on the cloud formations shown.

IMG_5542.jpg
Clouds right outside the window of the plane while at cruising altitude near 30,000 feet above sea level.

IMG_5547.jpg
Portion of a developing thunderstorm with small "rainbow" caused by clouds nearer to plane.

IMG_5552.jpg
An overshooting top on a cumulonimbus incus, indicative of a strong updraft and typical of strong to severe thunderstorms.

IMG_5555.jpg
A growing cumulonimbus with pileus cap.

By Ian Livingston  | August 3, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Photography, Thunderstorms  
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