North Dakota Thunderstorm

Critique Style Requested: In-depth

The photographer has shared comprehensive information about their intent and creative vision for this image. Please examine the details and offer feedback on how they can most effectively realize their vision.

Self Critique

Weather conditions on the plains can be brutal with frigid winters, baking summer heat and with no physical obstruction east of the Rocky Mountains, sudden storms with high winds. Does this image reflect those qualities?

Creative direction

I wanted to convey the intensity and brutal onrush of the storm.In trying to convey the message, I took a 30 second exposure to get some blurred movement in the clouds, adding some drama to the scene. By juxtaposing the abandoned barn , I tried to convey the difficulties the locals face from Mother Nature.

Specific Feedback

Did this image capture the feelings I had in the face of the storm? I only was able to take one image before gusts of wind with flying debris forced me back into the car. Would you have used a shorter exposure time?

Technical Details

Nikon D850 camera, 24-120 mm lens @ 30mm, f 11, ISO 100, 30 seconds


Life on the North Dakota plains.

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I think you captured the feeling you were after, Paul. Not knowing what scene you had to deal with, my eye keeps wanting that old building more toward the left side of the frame (about the reverse of what you have now). I think that’s largely due to the angle at which you shot the building. You might play with taking a bit more off the bottom of the image to give the sky even more dominance. I’ve never tried long exposures of clouds, so I won’t try to guess about that aspect of the image.

It’s definitely an awesome sky.

I appreciate your input.

While I like the scene as it stands, I think the brightness of the foreground is a bit too stark in contrast to the sky. Perhaps as suggested by Dennis, less foreground and even a little sharper contrast on the front of the barn would serve to increase the drama.

Thank you for your input I will try to incorporate both suggestions

A very compelling scene!
That ominous sky is incredible.
I agree that the barn is a little centered, and the foreground a bit light. If darker, it would be more consistent with that dark sky.
Don’t know if you have room to move the barn to the left a bit.
Fine image!

I have incorporated the suggestions made. I would appreciate any feedback.

Intense !!! Yes you captured that exact vibe !!! Works great in Black and White… Great image.

The crop doesn’t work for me. I would try to darken the green channel (assuming the foreground is green). Then I would raise the lighter tones in the building. I would make the building contrasty within a primarily dark image instead of being gray.

Very interesting and an intense capture. I love the barn but for me the sky feels too heavy for the FG. My first thought was to crop some from the sky, about halfway to where the white cloud exits the frame on the right. Then I wondered about lightening the sky a bit and darkening the rest? It might take two masked B/W adjustment layers, or some playing with Hue-Sat, but could be well worth exploring. I do long to see more contrast in the building. This is a unique and interesting image.

Thanks for taking the time to dissect the image. There have been several suggestions, crop from the bottom, crop from the top, darken the grass, etc. I will play with multiple variations. Paul