Jeff McPheeters Storm Photography: Lightening over the Lake

Kansas native and avid photographer, Jeff McPheeters, has enjoyed photography of as long as he can recall. While Jeff is known for his amazing landscape photography, learn about the man behind the camera lens and how he finds inspiration in nature.

After reading part 1, continue onto part 2 Catching the Storm with Jeff McPheeters to know how to prepare for photographing weather and then read part 3 Perfecting the Storm with Jeff McPheeters to learn tips and tricks to post-processing weather photography.

How did you become interested in photography?

It’s a little fuzzy in my memory by now, but I don’t think I recall a time when I wasn’t interested in photography. My parents had a basic 35mm film camera and several family members had Polaroids. At every gathering, it seems there is a requisite coming together to get the group portrait commemorating the event. I remember sensing that photographs serve some important purpose for which we are to give attention to. Looking back, I can connect the dots between the various influences (which at the time I probably took little notice of), but each had in their way, some influence on me which grew with the passing years of my childhood. I remember personally not liking to be in the photograph. I was more interested in taking the photograph. The following are some older images from my teens in the 1970’s with film.

At six years of age, I received a small Brownie camera, which I believe was my mother’s. I used it for a couple of years and then my grandparent gave me one of their Kodak Instamatics. I mostly shot Kodachrome slide film in them because it was cheaper than other films. We had slide projectors, which I thought were really cool. Years later as a teenager, I’d be making slide shows with my own Kodak Carousel complete with auto-remote advance and accompanied by a music track from an LP or cassette tape when those arrived on the scene.

These are some of my early digital and the last stuff I did before switching to the Olympus in 2012.

Why weather?

Being from Kansas, weather is sort of a thing we’re known for. People often ask if I’m a storm chaser. I reply tongue-in-cheek that here in Kansas the storms come to us. We don’t really have to chase them much. By some stroke of luck, it so happens that on the high plains, the weather patterns tend to produce the most dramatic weather events. In the late afternoon when the sun is getting lower, we are lucky to get storms and sunsets intersecting quite often. This creates more dynamic lighting conditions.That’s my favorite kind of situation. Due to the level and gentle rolling terrain here in the plains, it means I’m going to have 360 degrees of potential subject matter and great lighting. No mountains to block the view!

Jeff McPheeters Storm Photography: Lightening over the Field

Do you have any disaster stories?

I have my share of embarrassing moments and mistakes, some costing me time and money with broken stuff. Like driving an hour and a half to a gig only to realize when I got there, that the camera bag is sitting kitchen counter. Or tipping the tripod over into the lake with camera and lens attached. (Fortunately, I was shooting with a sealed body and lens so nothing terrible happened).

I’ve often klutzed stuff in front of others and I expect they wondered how I ever made it as a photographer. I just say, hey, I’m still a work in progress! Just a couple weeks ago, I was with a half dozen other photographers awaiting the rising of the super moon behind the skyline of Kansas City. A buddy and I thought we’d try a different location. I had not remembered to latch my camera bag and picked it up quickly causing one of the lenses to fly out and bounce along the pavement. Yeah, everybody noticed. I was lucky — for some reason not a mark on the lens or any damage to it’s mechanisms. I wish that was the only time I’ve done something like that and wish I could trust it is the last time, but I have insurance against theft and my stupidity.

Jeff McPheeters Storm Photography: Clouds

Do you have any upcoming events?

If you happen to be in the Kansas City region hop on over to Lawrence, Kansas. My current exhibit is being shown in the Signs of Life Art and Books in the upstairs south gallery. It will be running for another couple of months.

2017 will debut a new web site and gallery, as well as some efforts to involve others locally in photography education for enthusiasts and aspiring artists.

Jeff McPheeters Storm Photography: Storm Clouds

What else interests you beside photography?

I am a lifelong learner and sometime educator. I’ve taught three sons from home. I’ve also taught in the public school system for a time (Chemistry, Biology, Physics) prior to entering the business world. I enjoy art, history, and culture and take active roles in one of the local protestant church houses here in Lawrence. Hiking and travel are something I still have never tired of. My wife and I try and get overseas at least and hike one fourteener in the Colorado Rockies every year. We traveled over 25,000 miles this year! This includes Italy, and next year we’re hoping to return to Alaska for our third trip. (My wife became a very successful Mary Kay sales director, which allowed me to change careers!) I’ve never been anywhere I didn’t find something fascinating to study and photograph.

Jeff McPheeters Storm Photography: Sunset and Clouds

Read part 2 Catching the Storm with Jeff McPheeters to know how to prepare for photographing weather and what makes for great compositions.

Read part 3 Perfecting the Storm with Jeff McPheeters to learn tips and tricks to post-processing weather photography.

About Jeff McPheeters

I enjoy every aspect of photography. And I enjoy many kinds of subject matter. My formal education includes a B.S.E. from the University of Kansas, and I have been self employed since 1989. Photography has been both an avid hobby and a useful skill to have in my business career. My development as a freelance photographer has been a gradual process over the past ten years or so.

Jeff McPheeters Photographing during a hike

Currently residing in rural Douglas county, Kansas, I have been able to devote much of my time to capturing the landscape with all it’s mercurial moods and changing ‘faces’. I often will rise early to capture the earliest morning light as the sun slowly rises, creating the shifting shades and shadows across the land. Living close to Clinton Lake, I enjoy seeing the interaction between water and sky. I am someone who loves the outdoors, hiking, skiing and enjoying God’s beautiful creation. Without the support of my best friend and wife, Priscilla, and our three grown sons, I’d not have the time to pursue photography full time. As a lifelong learner, I love to share what I’m learning. Whether sharing a simple tip or delving into the intricacies of photography, I hope others I might influence others to come away encouraged and enthused about photography. Please feel free to follow Jeff on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter. Also feel free to view more of his images on his website or Vimeo.

One of my mottos is: ‘the only photographer you should compare yourself to is the one you used to be.’

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