Interview with Lightning Photographer & MIOPS Ambassador Jordan Cantelo
Recently we had the chance to have a talk with MIOPS Ambassador Jordan Cantelo for an interview where he shared his experiences about how he became a photographer, what setup does he use or his tips to today's photographers..
Q. How did you become a well-known lightning photographer?
A. That’s a hard one, as it’s hard to comprehend that I am a well-known lightning photographer. It’s developed over time organically through social media platforms especially Instagram. I’ve been taking images of storms for a while now and have been fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time on several occasions which have resulted in a few awards over the years.
Q. What does photography mean to you and what was the reason that you became a photographer?
A. I have always found photography interesting, and it sounds so cliché, but being able to capture a moment in time that you can revisit over and over again is so incredible. With the increases in technology, the ability for everyone to capture photos in everyday life is amazing. The world has never been so well documented then it is now through the photography medium. My passion for photography developed over time. I have always had a huge fascination with the weather, and I would always be caught just looking up into the sky at the clouds and watching them develop. My full-time job is in fire management within a Western Australian State Government department, so I’m not a full-time professional photographer, but I do grab every possible opportunity to head out to chase thunderstorms when I am not on roster. I do dedicate a number of weeks leave each year to travel throughout the state to chase and photograph storms throughout Western Australia, with plans every year to go to the other side of the country and hopefully to the United States in not the too distant future.
Q. Briefly talk us through what a shooting day is like for you…
A. My photography days start a few days before I am due to head out. I watch the weather forecasts like a hawk every morning and every night during the storm season here in Western Australia. If I am off roster and the weather gods play nice, I will start to plan out my chase area up to 3 days prior to heading out. First thing is first, I check all my safety gear. I always travel with a Personal Locater Beacon (PLB). This PLB is registered to me and my car, so in the event I become stuck in a remote location I can activate this, and I will hopefully have someone come find me. (Thankfully I haven’t had to use this yet though) I check that I have plenty of water and some food to last me 2 days while out in the field. I then check all my camera gear, from lightning triggers, to filters, to camera batteries and make sure they are fully charged and that my battery charges are all functional. I check my all memory cards (1 x 128gb 4x64gb), and format those to ensure that they are all ready to go. I check my laptop and phone charges are still in working order.
I keep a constant eye on the weather forecast and will make numerous adjustments to where I plan to target. Once I have decided on an area I will be targeting, I will make a calculate how long it will take me to get there. Sometimes I will leave the night before to make the trip, however most of the time I will leave in the early morning to make sure I have enough time to scout roads and potential compositions.
Q. What is the most difficult part of being a photographer for you?
A. In my early days of chasing I use to get caught up with having to always nail an amazing photograph, and this use to play a huge part in decisions I would make, and an expectation that I should nail every single shot. Nowadays while I still do strive to capture striking images, I do not get hung up about it if I do not. I truly just love being out in the environment and experiencing it. Though it’s extra special when you do see something extraordinary and I manage to capture it on camera.
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Q. What kind of tools do you use for post processing?
A. I use the popular Adobe products of Lightroom, Photoshop for my photography, and Premiere Pro and After Effects for my video work.
Q. What MIOPS products do you own, and what challenges do they allow you to overcome?
A. I am very fortunate to have the MIOPS Smart + Trigger and Capsule 360 products in my arsenal. The Smart Trigger allows me to capture lightning during daylight hours where I do not use longer exposures. It’s an incredible bit of gear that is made even easier to use as I can operate it from my phone. It has an amazing battery life that I can rely upon. In more recent times I have heavily dived into the world of time lapse photography and have recently started to use the Capsule 360 product to add another dimension to capturing dynamic time-lapse videos. It can be used for long exposure time-lapse using a Stop-Go-Stop function that is just amazing. I look forward to using the Capsule 360 even more next storm season.
Q. Lightning strikes pretty fast, what camera settings do you need to freeze them in their tracks?
A. I tend to capture my best lightning strikes during the early evening with a shutter speed of around 1/30s and slower. Depending on the distance of the storm and available light remaining in the day, I will tend to use a f-stop of f/6.3 – f/11 and an ISO of between 100-400. Then I’ll plug in my MIOPS Smart + Trigger and let the device do the work in capturing the lightning strike.
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Q. What’s been your proudest moment as a photographer so far?
A. I have been fortunate enough to capture a few special moments out in the field but one particular storm comes to mind in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. In Dec 2017, after driving from 3500km from Perth to Wyndham I ended up at the 5 Rivers Lookout right on sunset, when a number of thunderstorm cells developed right above me. It was off the hook. The colours were just out of this world, the lightning was right over my head, the mosquitoes were out in their millions and I enjoying every single second of it. Some of my most popular images were taken that evening and it was the start to a very successful 8 days in the area.