STORM CHASER: Weather photographer Chris McFerran showing off his own photo of a rare frosty morning and cloudy sunrise by the Condamine.
STORM CHASER: Weather photographer Chris McFerran showing off his own photo of a rare frosty morning and cloudy sunrise by the Condamine. Sophie Lester

Weathering it all for a great shot

WHEN Chris McFerran looked about the clouds above the Southern Downs, he was intrigued by the different forms they took on.

It was this curiosity that drew him to weather photography in the early 90s.

Originally from the Snowy Mountains, Chris relocated to Warwick after visiting his parents and finding a love for the hobby.

"I remember taking photos of cloud formations along the range and while I didn't understand much about what was actually going on in the atmosphere, I knew the clouds were different,” he said.

"They were immense towering storm clouds and when I developed that first roll of film, I was hooked.”

Chris has now been chasing storms and winter frosts for 27 years.

One of his favourites - Lone Crow - is our front cover image for this month.

"What I capture is really about the weather events themselves, not if it's a storm or a frost,” he said.

"One of my favourite frost photos is quite a special one I took along the Condamine River from the Wallace St bridge.

"While you don't usually get clouds with frosts as they're associated with a high pressure system, an altocumulus cloud had pushed across from the west, so I got a rare moment with these clouds little up by the sunrise and frosts along the ground.”

Chris has become well known for both his storm photos - often working alongside Higgins Storm Chasing - and pictures of frosts.

He said though winter was just around the corner, frosts may still be a while away.

"This year it's not looking like we'll get frosts for the next few weeks,” Chris said.

"We've had a lot of troughs and lows in the northern hemisphere pushing down a lot of hot air, which is why it's still relatively warm and we need a cold front to come up from the Arctic to really give us frosts.

"It took me a long time of learning on the job to understand what was happening in the weather but it was seeing those clouds and wondering why they got to such altitudes or formed the way they did that drove me to learn.”

Chris developed his talent well before digital cameras took hold.

"It was tricky trying to get your exposure right,” he said.

"And you wouldn't know if you had caught anything good because you'd have to wait for the film to be developed to see how it turned out.

"It was part of the excitement though hoping and praying it turned out right.

"With digital cameras, you can fix your exposure because you can see it straight away or correct it easily in editing.”

Chris has taken a step back from the camera after Cyclone Debbie.

When he's not out chasing storms or frosts, he's working at the cafe at Warwick Hospital.

"I set up the cafe seven years ago and still work here full-time,” Chris said.

"I've really enjoyed helping people.

"I inadvertently do a lot of counselling meeting people who are here with family and often going through a hard time.

"Being able to give someone a smile, a hot drink and something to eat, and a cosy place to sit that will hopefully help them relax and distract them from whatever they're going through for a bit is very rewarding.”