My wife’s side of the family is obsessed with Disney. We go to Disney World at least once every two years; and now that we have kids it’s beginning to trend toward once a year. My in-laws even bought a Disney Vacation Club membership (a timeshare) so I’m sure we’ll be going even more often now. Don’t get me wrong, Disney is a great place and I always have a great time when I’m there, but there are other places in this world to go! Hehe, but I digress…
Being a photographer and going to Disney World with your family is a tough thing to balance. Florida can have some of the best skies on Earth, but walking around all day and riding rides isn’t all that conducive to carrying a camera around. You don’t want to leave your camera behind when you hop on a ride and you’re never comfortable trying to hold onto it on the bigger rides. The solution I've found is to take a smaller camera, one that can be thrown into a small bag or my wife’s purse. At the time I took this shot, the best camera for that job was my Sony NEX-7 (for our next trip it will most likely be the Sony RX100 IV). With a small camera and a versatile lens, I can still take plenty of amazing photographs around the parks. And instead of taking a full size tripod, I bring a little Joby Gorilla Pod that also fits in a small bag.
On one of the last days of the trip, we were all at Epcot eating dinner at one of the outdoor Mexican restaurants. We were chatting away, enjoying our food and the beautiful weather, when something in my periphery caught my attention. I looked to my left and saw a storm approaching. Within a minute or so, it started to form a shelf cloud (the leading edge of the storm formed by outflow winds). I had just started chasing storms at the time, so I was ecstatic to say the least! I jumped out of my seat, grabbed the NEX-7 out of our backpack and ran over to the railing of the little pavilion we were under. By that time, the storm shelf cloud was huge and the storm was quickly approaching. The only way to capture the entire shelf cloud was to take a panorama. I rotated the camera into portrait orientation and began firing off multiple shots. Right as I was finishing up, the funniest thing happened…
There was this guy sitting at the table with his girlfriend next to where I was standing. He saw me taking pictures, looked out at the storm and then (trying to sound macho and smart to impress her) said to her, “Don’t worry, I’ve seen these kind of clouds before and they just look scary. I doubt it will even rain.” I took one last look at the storm – with the clearly visible rain curtain behind the shelf cloud – shook my head in amusement and told my family it was time to go. Within 10 minutes it was pouring down rain so hard we couldn’t even see the other side of the lake. Part of me wishes I would have said something to that guy, but another part of me is perfectly satisfied with letting him learn through experience. Hey, a trip to Disney World isn't complete without getting drenched at least once. Hehe.
In closing, I want to reiterate the importance of carrying a camera with you whenever possible. If I didn’t have my Sony NEX-7 with me at the time, I would have had to settle with my iPhone. The dynamic range of storms is pretty huge, and being able to shoot in RAW with the NEX-7 is what allowed me to make this image possible.
The photo shown here was taken with a Sony NEX-7, Sony E-Mount 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens. 1/100-sec., f/8, ISO 100
See more of Jams Brandon's photography, sign for workshops and find his ebooks at jamesb.com