Award-winning photographer Camille Seaman has made quite a reputation for herself with the spectacular images of the polar region in her amazing project The Last Iceberg. As a follow-up to that theme on natural phenomenon, her latest project, The Big Cloud had her chasing uncommon cloud formations called “supercells” in Central United States. These massive clouds are known to be the threatening beginnings of large hailstones, or sometimes and worse, even tornadoes.
The shots were collected during the storm season beginning May and June in 2008, all the way up till 2012. Seaman’s photographs beautifully show these awesome clouds that can be as huge as 50-miles wide and reach 65,000-feet into the sky.
The idea to document these mammoth clouds came to Seaman while doing some rather mundane daily chores. She was vacuuming her living room when the idea was suggested to her. While watching a storm-chasing documentary on TV as she did her housework, her daughter put forth an idea in jest, ‘Hey, mom, you should do that!’
Before she knew it, Seaman was in Kansas three days later. Accompanied by a team of professional storm-chasers, they were able to track and photograph immense cloud formations as they appeared to threaten the Great Plains.
“I knew after the first day on the road that this was something I wanted to keep pursuing. I was hooked. I knew after the first day on the road that this was something I wanted to keep pursuing. I was hooked.”
Naturally, there a number of inherent risks that comes with tracking these giant storm clouds. Baseball-sized hail and violent lightning strikes notwithstanding, Seaman says road accidents are really the biggest danger when out there.
“A lot of times, when the weather gets crazy, people do stupid things when they drive,” says Seaman. “When there’s a storm or tornado on the ground, people tend to pull over to the side of the road and get out of their cars. So then you have people on the side of the road, and you can literally get hit if you’re not careful. When you’re in that situation, other drivers are going to be looking at the giant cloud in the sky, not at the road.”
Supercells are believed to be precursors to tornadoes, but in reality only 2% produce funnel clouds or turn into full-blown twisters, according to Seaman.
See her amazing shots of supercells on her website.