Photo­gra­phing in a storm — dune land­scape on Sylt

Da stehe ich nun. Trief­nass. Mitten­drin im peit­schenden, eisig­kalten Wind. Einige Meter über dem Sand­strand vor den Dünen bei Wenning­stedt auf einem Holz­steg. Hier bin ich etwas geschützt vor dem Wind, trotzdem bläst er uner­bitt­lich. Ein wenig über­rascht bin ich. Darüber, wie schnell bei ange­kün­digtem orkan­ar­tigem Sturm die Regen­fälle über das Meer brausen und das Land errei­chen. Flucht ausge­schlossen. Ich muss sie hinnehmen. Alles für den einen Moment. 

You can find the VLOG to the BLOG below, at the end of the blog post. Be sure to take a look, because in this YouTube video you can find out how I took the pictures in this post and all the tips in detail directly in the field. 


Sony a7IV
Sony FE 2.8/16–35 mm GM
Sony FE 4/24–105 mm G OSS
Sony FE 100–400 mm GM


Switch quickly, be ready

I already have the first picture in the box. A wonderful shot of the typical wooden jetty on Sylt in the dunes. With great cloud struc­tures, which are created thanks to the storm and also change within seconds. 

I had seen the rain coming over the sea. It’s still a few kilo­me­tres away, so go ahead and take some pictures. Trying out compo­si­tions. Then it pelted down on my jacket. Seconds later, it felt like the rain was coming from all sides. The only thing I could do was look for a shel­tered spot and wait. 5 minutes later, the rain was over. But the wind was blowing harder. At least it dried my clothes again quickly. 

The adver­si­ties that such a storm brings with it must be accepted in land­scape photo­graphy, because there are just as many possi­bi­li­ties in such situa­tions. Constantly chan­ging light condi­tions, brea­king clouds that let light through, dramatic cloud struc­tures that leave an impres­sive impres­sion on pictures, moody rain atmo­spheres and possibly rain­bows, to name just a few. Ever­y­thing that can make a picture look special. 

I walked between the dunes. On the paths, of course. On the horizon, I could see the next rain cell approa­ching. I quickly had to find some kind of fore­ground that wasn’t too disturbed. But it also had to be some­what aesthetic. Photo­gra­phing a fore­ground just to have a fore­ground doesn’t make sense either. The picture might end up hanging on my wall. If I spend ages thin­king about the fore­ground, that I could have left it out, then I would replace the picture after a few weeks at the latest. 

Then the sky opened up behind me. The storm blew the clouds aside and let the sun through. The rainbow appeared directly in front of me over the North Sea. It grew quickly. I took a test shot and found a compo­si­tion that offered a little more. A quick shot. But the rainbow continued to grow until it was complete. 

I threw the ruck­sack on the floor. The 24 mm that my lens gives on the camera is not enough. I need my 16–35 and the first drops landed on my face. I changed the lens as quickly as I could. Went into posi­tion. 16mm. Camera settings fit. I pressed the shutter release. Then the rain came down on me. I had one shot and this is the result:

Vor dem Sturm | Sony a7IV + Sony FE 2.8/16–35 mm GM

This and all other shots of this post you can request under “Prints” as an art print for your wall at home directly from me. 

The photo­grapher takes the picture

Wow. I thought. Adre­nalin shot through my body, but I had kept calm enough to capture this brief moment. A few minutes later, when the down­pour was over, I was able to see on the camera that it had worked. Expe­ri­ence and a certain routine in hand­ling my own equip­ment were the key at this moment. Making settings, finding the compo­si­tion, setting the focus in frac­tions of a second. Blindly finding your way around the camera. That’s what makes pictures like this.

Which camera or which lens was used is of secon­dary importance. The photo­grapher takes the picture. The camera and lens are just the tools. Just as the pot and the cooker are the tools of the master chef. Nobody would think to ask which pot they used when enjoying their meal, would they?

Unfort­u­na­tely, it was the only complete rainbow that morning. Later, I was able to photo­graph another rainbow over the Red Cliff near Kampen, a double one in fact, which appeared just at the right moment as I was stan­ding on the sandy beach below. But there were other things that I thought were worth photo­gra­phing. You can see what else I managed to photo­graph in the gallery and of course in the video below.

Tips for taking photos in a storm

There are also a few things to bear in mind when photo­gra­phing in the wind:

  • The first rule should always be: protect yourself and your equip­ment. No picture is worth putting yourself in danger. Equip­ment is at least replaceable, but it is also annoying if you lose your shots or have to do without equip­ment for a few days because it is being repaired or similar.
  • Depen­ding on how strong the wind is, taking photos on a tripod can some­times be impossible/unnecessary. A sharp image is worth the low ISO. So it’s better to increase the ISO and accept a little noise than a blurred image with too long an expo­sure time but “ISO 100”.
  • If the camera is on the tripod, keep an eye on it. A gust of wind, depen­ding on how strong it is, can blow the heaviest tripod over. If neces­sary, use the hook on the under­side of the tripod and attach the ruck­sack to it. However, the ruck­sack should still be in contact with the ground and not swing in the air. If possible, stand between the wind and the camera to reduce shaking caused by the wind.

For more info and back­ground on how I took this picture, be sure to check out the video on YouTube below!

Pictures from the VLOG

In this gallery, I have compiled all the photos from the VLOG so that you can view them at your leisure. Have a look on Youtube and leave a comment or a like. If you liked the video, you can also subscribe to my channel so that you don’t miss any new videos.

VLOG to the BLOG

The journey conti­nues. The condi­tions for photo­graphy are bril­liant. However, the wind speeds of up to over 100 km/h are really diffi­cult to handle. In this VLOG, we give you some tips on how to cope with this and also some great pictures from the dune land­scape around Kampen and Wenning­stedt on Sylt. Have fun watching!

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