Boris Jordan is a storm chaser. He can catch the right moment of the falling of lightning or the beautiful way in which the colors of the sky change. Adrenaline, fun
but also fear are the most common feelings a storm chaser can experience when he looks at the power and beauty of nature.
In front of such beautiful events, a man can only admire how precious and unique the nature is.
Tell me something about you, how was your passion for the photography born?
My name is Boris Jordan and I am a storm chaser and landscape photographer living in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. My first contact with a DSLR camera was in 2011, when my son was born. At the beginning I just wanted to take better photos of my family. But soon I became bored of using the camera in automatic mode as I am a very curious person. I started to study how different camera settings affect the final picture and I was fascinated by how many capabilities a modern camera can provide. As time goes on I was more and more often outside shooting different motifs and photography slowly captivated me. Being at interesting locations and trying to shoot a photo, which I built in my head was my way to escape the routine of everyday life.
Why did you choose to photograph nature and its phenomenon such as storms?
At the beginning, I tried to photograph different scenes, like cityscapes, animals or people. Then I realized that what attracts me the most is shooting landscapes in combination with natural processes like sunrise, fog or storms. I was always a person who loved to spend time in nature far away from crowds and noises of cities. This is the reason why landscape photography is perfect for me. Storms have always fascinated me and I have even tried to shoot lightning strikes with a small analogue compact camera when I was a child, but, of course, I never succeeded. Now, after I learned the photography technique of long exposure, I wanted to fulfil my long-held dream of catching a lightning. So, during the following years I just waited for storms to come to my hometown at night. This didn’t happen very often but anyway I was very happy with the results.
One day, on 02 July 2013, a thunderstorm missed Frankfurt just by few kilometres and I decided to follow it by car. Finally, after an Hour and about 120 km, I got closer to the cell. Here on the field, I was able to shoot for about 20 min and the cell died finally. It looked like the storm waited for me whole the long way to let me photograph its beauty. I was really blown away by final results and I realized that I needed to be more active to get more storms and more motifs. I will remember this day forever as it was my first real storm chase. (Photo 1) After this I started to research how to catch storms and I found out that there is a huge community of storm chasers, who driving in teams across Germany and Europe. I finally joined a team and now I was able to drive longer distances for almost every interesting weather setup and could learn a lot about weather, storm forecasting and chasing strategies from more experienced colleagues.
“I experienced a lot of emotions in staying in front of a strong thunderstorm. Fear is one of those”
I think that to catch the right moment when lightning fall is necessary to wait. Tell me about the “process” of your work, how does it work?
To shoot lightning at night I use the photography technique which are called long time exposure. For this, it is necessary to place the camera on a tripod, point it towards the storm and set the exposure time at multiple seconds. During this exposure time camera “collects” light and, if lightning strikes, then it stays on the sensor. Of course, you have to set the right parameters, like aperture, ISO and focal length, before lightning occurs. There is no universal rule to choose the right setting because the conditions are never the same, thanks to the experience you will learn how to set 2018 camera in every situation. More complicated is to get a storm in time and to choose a good viewing point, which is not too far and not too close to it.
There are also devices available which detect lightning and trigger the camera automatically within milliseconds. Theoretically such lightning triggers can be
used to shoot lightning at daylight, but I had only limited success with it and I
was never satisfied with the results. Lightning just looks more imposing at late
evening or night, if it is dark and all branches of a lightning strike are visible on
“…At this moment I was just speechless, as the sky really looked like not from this planet…”
Have you ever been scared of a storm while you were waiting for it?
I experienced a lot of emotions in staying in front of a strong thunderstorm. And fear is one of those. I think it is important and normal to be scared and have respect of a storm, because this feeling forces you to find shelter when a storm comes too close. While it is possible to analyze what storm is doing and where it is moving, lightning remains unpredictable and extremely dangerous. So, it’s really important to be aware of your limits (also thanks to the fear) and to stop yourself.
Which photo gave you the biggest satisfaction when you captured it?
After an exciting chase on 04 April 2018 we stopped next to Leipzig (Saxony, Germany) to shoot lightning on a backside of a thunderstorm. After 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. (Photo 2). By the way, this photo got into the finals of this year's "Weather Photographer of the Year" contest powered by Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) in association with AccuWeather. Winners will be announced on Saturday 17 October 2020.
“Storms always fascinated me”
What is the most incredible natural phenomenon you photographed?
I would say it was the hailstorm of Reutlingen on 28 July 2013. The storm produced about 7 cm (2.8 inch) hailstones and caused enormous damage (~3.6 billion Euro). This was the most expensive hailstorm in the history of Germany. By the way, this is the last photo of my car without hail dents. I was just at the beginning of my storm chaser “career” and was not expected to see such a monster storm in Germany. (Photo 3.jpg).
In your Instagram profile you defined yourself as a storm chaser so for example if you travel abroad for taking some pictures you have to check the weather forecast. When you travel do you choose a particular period of the year when storms are most frequent?
It is important to understand that general weather forecasts are not entirely suitable for storm chasing. In most cases weather services issue warnings for wide areas without mentioning storm motion speed, motion direction, initiation and termination timings and many more parameters which are essential for successful storm chase. That’s why we learn to read different weather models, which simulate multiple weather parameters and try to build a whole picture of an event. With this knowledge it is easier to reduce the target area to a tiny spot on the map and to be there in time before a storm develops. Of course, weather models can’t see future, so that such forecast can be a very challenging task which requires adjustments of the chase strategy with every new model run. And exactly this fact makes this hobby even more appealing for me. I would probably get bored very soon if I would always know exactly where a storm will be at which time.
In Central Europe thunderstorms usually occur between April and September. I use the remaining months to photograph other motifs such as sunsets and sunrises, winters capes and foggy landscapes. Understanding weather also helps here to forecast right conditions for a specific location.
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a storm? What are the feelings you experienced?
I like to observe storms from a safe distance and do not drive intentionally through the core. But sometimes you accidentally get into a storm. Here inside you have to deal with strong winds, rain, hail and frequent lightning. All this chaos let the adrenaline level rise and you realize how small you actually are compared to the forces of nature. But in all that you have to try not to get into panic and focus on
the storm development and on a safe escape route. (Photo 4.jpg)
Regarding the future, do you have any trip scheduled?
Due to the current situation with Coronavirus it is not possible to make any concrete schedules. But as soon traveling will be safe again, I am planning to go to Iceland to shoot its wild and unique landscape and finally see northern lights.
“All this chaos let the adrenaline level rise and you realize how small you actually are compared to the forces of nature”
Follow Boris and his work on instagram.