If there’s one thing photographers can’t control, it’s the weather. However, they line up their cameras and capture the conditions, be it rain, sunshine or blizzards and the best weather images have been recognised in the Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather Photographer of the Year contest.
The prestigious contest saw over 7,700 entries, but it was Rudolf Sulgan’s image, entitled Blizzard and showing Brooklyn Bridge in New York during a fierce snowstorm that was crowned as the winning frame by a team of esteemed judges. Rudolf commented on the image; ‘I made this image in 2018, during a strong blizzard as El Nino’s periodic warming of water often disrupts normal weather patterns. My main concern and inspiration are that my images hopefully do a small part in combating climate change.’
The title of he Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2020 (17 and under category) went to 17-year-old Kolesnik Stephanie Sergeevna, from Russia, with her image Frozen Life, which was captured using a Sony DSC-W90 compact camera. Kolesnik commented: “The photo is of a leaf stuck in the ice. I wanted to take this shot because it is a “part of sunny Summer frozen in ice. Time seems to have stopped for this leaf.”
First runner up in the contest went to Vu Trung Huan from Vietnam for an image entitled; Tea Hills. Captured using a Canon 5D Mark IV paired with a 70-200mm lens, the impressive frame shows mist hanging in the valley of Phu Tho province.
Second runner up spot went to Croatian photographer Maja Kraljik, for an image entitled; Monster. The spectacular frame shows an epic shelf cloud formation and was captured using a Nikon D40. Maja commented; ‘This monster shelf cloud was perhaps the most beautiful structure and size over my area. I was waiting for two hours for the cloud to arrive and then it made a real mess.’
Winner of the Public Favourite category was Russian photographer Alexey Trofimov, who scooped the award for this jaw-dropping image, entitled; ‘Baikal Treasure’, which was captured using a Canon 500D. Alexey commented; ‘I took this photo during an expedition on the ice of Lake Baikal. On the first day we arrived at Cape Kotelnikovsky, where I was attracted by ice hummocks and a snow cover. It was noon, not really my photo time. But the light that the sun gave, refracting in blocks of ice, caught my attention and made me take this picture.’
Laura Hedien was named as a finalist for this incredible frame entitled; ‘Frosty Bison’. Captured in Yellowstone National Park using a Nikon Z 7, Laura commented; ‘We were touring the west side of the Park. It was a very cold sunrise, the coldest of the week so far. It was near zero degrees Fahrenheit. We came around the corner in our snow coach and saw this magnificent bison just sauntering down the road as if they owned the Park and they do! Keeping the required distance from him/her we hopped out, grabbed some photos, and quickly got back in the vehicle and watched as she/he walked about five feet right past us. It was as if we were not even there. It certainly added to the ghost-like event.’
This incredible lightning show was captured by competition finalist Marc Marco Ripoll. Entitled ‘Sa Foradada Storm’, the frame was shot at Sa Foradada, which is on the island of Mallorca using a Sony A73 and Marc commented; ‘I tried many times to catch a good lightning strike behind this rock called Sa Foradada, but every time I tried, the conditions were not so good. I didn’t have the moon on the sky to illuminate the scene, or the lightning was too far away. This night I knew that a big storm was approaching Mallorca and all the conditions were perfect. I don’t remember if the moon was full, but I remember that it was very big. This was perfect, because the moon was going to illuminate all the land and the sea and gives more colour to the scene. I chose my composition, and I shot many pictures until the storm fell on me. This is one of the pictures I took that night in Sa Foradada. To see the storm and the lightning that night was something amazing.’
Entitled ‘Lavaredo’s Gloria’, this epic image was captured in The Dolomites by photographer Alessandro Cantarelli using a Canon 5D Mark IV. Alessandro commented; ‘The Tre Cime of Lavaredo is illuminated by the Moon that reflects a Spectrum of Brocken behind me; on the cross of Mount Paterno (2,746 mt) the Ursa Major is captured on the highest peak and the headlights of the climbers to illuminate their ascent to the summit. We spent over 30 days analysing the weather, studying the path, hypothesizing the weather conditions… But in the mountains what do you want to assume? Nothing. We wanted to start with clear conditions, high pressure forecasts and so we did. August 10, we decided to start with the best possible conditions. Four hours of walking and climbing to reach the summit, full of fog, that it felt a bit frustrating after all that effort. The sunset and the peaks are shown from time to time. There were a few opportunities to take home something really good, so we dined and waited for the night, hoping for some miracle by nature. At about 23:00 the fog curtain lifted to what I can consider one of the most beautiful shows I have ever seen in my life, the madness of the Three Peaks of Lavaredo illuminated by a powerful moon, with Jupiter on his right, above the highest peak, where I could see the headlights of climbers who climbed quickly to enjoy this magic.
Ridgeline Optics was shot by Richard Fox using a Sony A7R3 and shows a fogbow over Meall Nan Tarmachan in Scotland. Fogbows are an optical phenomenon that form when the sun is behind an observer’s back, ideally about 30-40 degrees high, and water droplets (in the form of fog) are in front. They are similar in shape to rainbows, however the light that is reflected within the small fog droplets undergoes extensive diffraction.
Entitled; ‘Mammatus Outbreak’, this finalist image was captured by Boris Jordan in Saxony Germany who commented; ‘This was by far the most spectacular mammatus display I’ve ever seen in my entire life. After a line of thunderstorms passed by and the sun disappeared behind the horizon, low-hanging mammatus clouds began to shine red and blue. At this moment I was just speechless, as the sky really looked like not from this planet. And as a nice bonus, a distant lightning made the composition perfect. Mammatus mostly appear in association with strong thunderstorms, if the sinking air, which contains high amount of liquid water or ice, is cooler than the surrounding air.’