Blog #91: Storm Chasing at Fish Haul Creek

While I was photographing with others at Fish Haul Creek Park on Hilton Head Island, we were caught in a line of storms clouds.

I was with other members of the Carolinas’ Nature Photographers Association (CNPA) at the Annual Photography Weekend, June 19-22, 2014, which was hosted by the LowCountry Region based in Bluffton, SC.  Fish Haul Creek was one of 6 different locations that we were able to photograph during the weekend and on the last day there was a Photo competition with ribbons and cash prizes to the winners. Fish Haul Creek workshop was led by Robert Rommel, who has written an e-book about the area and knows where to find the best photography locations.

At the north end of Hilton Head Island there are 3 parks: Barker Field Park, Mitchelville Beach Park and Fish Haul Creek Park. I don’t know why it got that name but Fish Haul Creek Park is the largest and it has four major natural habitats: maritime forest, beach dunes and scrub, tidal flats, and salt marsh and creeks.  A short walk to the salt marsh from the parking lot will put you in the company of fiddler crabs that run away from people and photographers.

Nature or landscape photographers have to deal with storms as a matter of course. Any of them will caution you to have a plastic cover for your camera, should you need it.

I was happily focusing and photographing little shells on grass strands with a macro lens as our guide, Robert Rommel, helped with the camera set-up or I was watching little fiddler crabs scurry away from me as I tried to focus on them.

Tiny, Tiny Shells

I did not realize that clouds were building on the horizon. As I was looking down or concentrating on the little critters or the dragonfly perched on the branch, I failed to look up and check out the sky.

Ominous Clouds
Ominous Clouds

What got my attention was the lightning and thunder rumbling in the distance. The beauty of the seashore is that it is flat and you can see quite far when you look up and down the coastline. But I noticed that the cloud formations had turned scary.

The other photographers were determining the directions of the clouds and how we were probably quite safe because the line of gray clouds would just slide on past us.

Not me, I didn’t trust that they were right. I just grabbed my wide angle lens, popped it on the camera body, set up my tripod and snapped a few shots using my best bracketing technique (a button on the camera which allows you to take 2-7 photos in succession covering a range of aperture settings or shutterspeeds.)

Then, I folded everything up and fled toward the car. As I went one way, I looked back and waved goodbye to my photography mates as they walked toward the storm clouds.

Here is my storm shot:

Approaching Storm
Approaching Storm at Fish Haul Creek