I'm absolutely thrilled that the Bureau of Meteorology has chosen my photo of lenticular clouds over Lord Howe Island as the July image for their 2017 Australian Weather Calendar. This is Australia's highest selling calendar, and marks a huge highlight in my still very short photography career for a number of reasons. A huge number of keen weather photographers send in absolutely mindblowing images each year, and even just to be shortlisted was a huge achievement - but here's why it means more to me.
I grew up admiring this calendar. My Nana would have this calendar on her wall every year, and I would take it down and go through every page and photograph multiple times every time I visited her house. I studied every photograph, in awe. I read the descriptions about each photo and absorbed all of the background information on the cloud formations or whatever phenomenon was depicted, and then when I went home I found out more. I noticed every time there was a weather event going on and would relate what was happening in the sky to what I had seen in the calendar. I was a tad obsessed.
My Nana knew how much I loved it, and she was always very encouraging of my passion - I think she was actually a bit of a weather nerd herself... She passed away a couple of years ago, just when I was really starting to get into my photography. I know she would be the most excited person in the world if she were around to know that one of my photos made it into the calendar. I can picture the enormous smile.
Sentimentality aside, it was the stunning images on the BoM calendar that really intensified my passion, made me want to learn more about the incredible sky show that Mother Nature is capable of, and drove me towards wanting to photograph it in all of its glory. I can honestly say that to have an image featured in this calendar was one of my earliest photography goals.
So, a bit about the image itself. When I visited Lord Howe Island in 2015 I spent a lot of time walking around taking photos (obviously), and in doing so had a lot of conversations with other tourists and the locals about my photography and being a weather nerd and so forth. It just so happened that on my last morning there, while I was on the back of my wonderful friend (whose family are so hospitable to me every time I visit) Darcelle's ute heading to a drop-off point for a hike, one of those people I'd happened to speak to saw me and told me about these "strange clouds" sitting over Mt Lidgbird and Mt Gower.
Of course, being a weather nerd and a Lord Howe Island fanatic, I was aware that the mountains were capable of producing lenticular clouds - the mountains actually produce cloud spectacles quite regularly, but well defined lenticulars are rare (rare anywhere, let alone Australia where the geography means that there are very few places where they can form like that). Surely I couldn't be THAT lucky...?
We pulled off the road and I ran to where I had a clear view of the mountains, and there they were. Perfectly defined, sitting atop Lidgbird and Gower like multi-layered hats. Seeing these clouds in books and online is pretty cool, but seeing them THAT perfect, in person, and in such an incredibly stunning location - I was completely blown away. The shot that made the calendar was, would you believe, the first shot I took.
They frayed and dissipated a little after that and after another 30mins or so they were a combination of a number of cloud formations, but I'm so incredibly lucky to have been able to witness them and take that shot when they were perfect. Thank you to BoM, thank you to my Lord Howe friends, and thank you to all of you who have followed my photography for motivating me to keep doing it.
Anybody who is keen on learning how to take photos AND exploring the inimitable Lord Howe Island at the same time, check out the 8 day photography adventure that I am running in February 2017.
If you want to know more about the lenticular clouds, check out the Wikipedia page here.
If you are interested in buying a copy of the calendar, which contains some absolutely incredible images, head to the BoM website here.