Summer Storm Photography – Old Mission Peninsula

I’m not a true storm-chaser or adrenaline junkie, but when my friend texted me about an incoming line of storms minutes before my weather alerts went off, I knew something “good” was brewing. I looked into the storm’s details, and decided it was safe to attempt to photograph its arrival. I parked at a popular pull-off on the Old Mission Peninsula north of Traverse City with lots of other curious folks, and waited. The morning sky was flat, hazy grey far longer than I expected. Based on the radar, the storm appeared to be sitting directly above us. Then, the western horizon darkened, the still air stirred, and the edge of a shelf cloud reached down into the vineyard (figuratively – there was nothing like a tornado here).

17mm f/6.3 1/50-sec iso 400
Photo: Shelf cloud over vineyard, Old Mission Peninsula in northern Michigan
The foot of a shelf cloud steps down on a vineyard overlooking Traverse City’s West Bay
I’d like a print!

The temperature dropped 15 degrees (from 83 to 68F), and fat raindrops screamed down from the heavens. Not able to face into the winds without coating my lens in water, I turned east and discovered rich texture in the just-passed clouds.

17mm f/5.6 1/60-sec iso 400
Photo: Dark clouds and fierce winds appear after the arrival of a summer storm in northern Michigan
Dark clouds and fierce winds appear after the arrival of a summer storm
I’d like a print!

Deciding I’d like to capture those cauliflower clouds over the bay, I hopped in my car and headed south to the East Bay boat launch. The storm had moved too quickly for that, but I still delighted in the photo opportunities provided by the dancing rain on Lake Michigan.

16mm f/5.0 1/100-sec iso 200
Photo: Large raindrops splash in Lake Michigan's blue waters after a summer storm's arrival
Large raindrops splash in Lake Michigan’s blue waters after a summer storm’s arrival
I’d like a print!

I never know whether to expect a summer rain to make things intensely humid after it passes, or for it to clear the air. In this case, the front swept the haze away, leaving a brilliant summer afternoon in its wake.

iPhone 5S
Photo: Summer flowers and bright blue skies over the Empire Bluffs over Lake Michigan
A classic summer view of the Empire Bluffs perched over Lake Michigan
I’d like a print!