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Severeweather over the Swabian Alb

Severeweather over the Swabian Alb
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Behind The Lens


The photo was taken nearby the castle ruin of Hohen Neuffen, which is located on the edge of the Swabian Alb above the town of Neuffen, about 35km south of Stuttgart in the Southwest German region of Baden-Württemberg. There is a launch point for paragliders and an impressive view along the Albtrauf. Actually, I wanted to capture the sun setting and merging into the castle, but it turned out to be quite different.


After setting up the castle to be in focus, I sat down in the grass enjoying the view. To my left there was a thunderstorm building up, which at first, I easily managed to ignore. But then a black cloud rose below the thundercloud built up within minutes and developed into a supercell. Believe me, that is being observed very rarely in Germany. Fascinated as I was, I enjoyed watching the phenomenon and had forgotten about the sunset.


The beginning of the sunset or the lowering sun, the gathering thunderstorm, everything just contributed to a dramatic scenery that only nature is able to create. The green forest growing up the Albtrauf-cliffs and above the cell, illuminated by lightning inside – imagine the scene placed between dark clouds and the golden sky, it was more than breathtaking. In other words “The beauty of horror”.


I don’t limit myself down to using only one single camera to capture the weather. My equipment includes the Sony A6000, the Canon 700d and the Panasonic Lumix FZ300, a bridge camera. In the surrounding of a thunderstorm with rain and heavy winds, the constant change of the lens is a delicate matter. Therefore I decided to follow the solution of carrying multiple cameras with me. The Canon is equipped with the Tokina wide angle 11-16mm f2,8. The lens the picture was taken. My favourite lens, just at dusk and night. The Sony has either the 20mm f.2 or the 18-55mm lens on it and is rarely set up on the tripod. The bridge camera is best for time-lapse shots with superzoom to record details in the clouds and thunderstorms. As a tripod I use a Rollei C5i and the K + F Concept. Cokin ND filters are used during the day for longer exposures.


I love nature, especially the weather. We as human beings always think we have everything under control. Smartphone, Internet even in the desert, electric cars. Put that next to a thunderstorm and you figured it – we are just so small. I don’t want to be amused by the suffering of those affected to document the damage. I want to capture the beauty, because no storm is like another and every cloud is unique. Therefore, during the months from March to September I am always on the "hunt" for the next storm. My home, the Swabian Alb – a high-plateau in South Germany is very suitable for this.


Of course, every picture is edited. Since I shoot in RAW, I have to do it inevitably. My pictures are developed in Lightroom to about 95% and refined with the NiK Collection. Photoshop and I are no friends, so I only use PS to remove sensor spots or to superimpose multiple images, especially lightning. This shot was edited in LR, clarity and lights and details were worked out in NiK.

In my camera bag

That depends on the situation. For long walks, I try to limit my photo-equipment to the bare minimum. I know in advance that I will spend some time at one spot and check that the approach is not taking too long to get there. There is more in my backpack. In my Lowpro 400 is the Canon 700d with a wide angle, the bridge camera and the Sony A600. For the Sony, e.g. still the 50mm and the 20mm lens. All three cameras have an L-bracket to go with the Arca Swiss system on the tripod. A filter set of Cokin and cleaning cloths share space with replacement batteries. A pocket knife, power bank and a small LED lamp can still find room. With all the trimmings, the backpack weighs about 20-25 kg.


Since the hailstorm 2013 I am fascinated by thunderstorms. The Swabian Alb with its great landscape is one of the greatest spots for landscape photographers. In synergy with the extreme weather I show the wild Alb. When tourists break off their hikes, I get ready. Using weather apps I plan my tours of 400 km a day. Due to the location of the Alb, there are thunderstorms in the Danube valley, which move along the southern Albtraufs to Ulm / Bavaria, or the weather moves on the northern Albtrauf, coming from the Black Forest. Often you have no luck and the rain comes in first. The Alb also offers nature photographers a lot of motifs. Waterfalls and a unique flora and fauna, something for all photographers.

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