Weathering Thunderstorms

Last night’s storm as captured with my Fujifilm X-E4.

Arizona gets summer thunderstorms. If you are not from this region you might be surprised to learn that on average one-in-five days are rainy in Phoenix during the months of July and August. The thunderstorms come suddenly and can be intense. Flash flooding is common in the desert. They call this Monsoon, which roughly translates to stormy season or perhaps more simply weather or season, depending on who you ask.

One of these Monsoon thunderstorms hit the house hard last night. The wind was strong, the rain was pouring, and the streets turned into streams. Things toppled over in the yard. Branches broke off of trees. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed. It was kind of scary for a few moments.

I snapped a high-ISO image of the mayhem from safely inside the house. I used my Fujifilm X-E4 with a Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 lens, which isn’t the greatest low-light combo, so I used a window frame to help stabilize the camera for the 1/5 second exposure. I had my Nostalgic Print Film Simulation Recipe programmed into the camera; however, after the fact I thought it would look better in black-and-white, so I reprocessed the RAW file in-camera to the Kodak Tri-X 400 recipe.

I photographed this still-wet blossom today with my X-E4 and Fujicolor Pro 400H recipe.

I went to bed while the storm was still raging, but when I awoke this morning all was calm. It was a peaceful morning. The sun was shining. The wind was still. Birds were chirping. Everything seemed normal, except for what needed to be cleaned up—a task that didn’t take long—and I was able to enjoy the moment while sipping a cup of coffee.

This made me think of life. Sometimes the metaphoric storms rage, and it can be kind of scary. But once these storms-of-life pass—and they will pass—we can enjoy a moment of peace. The sun will shine again. The flowers will bloom. I think it’s important to take in the calm that comes after the storm. It’s inevitable that more storms will come; perhaps they’re easier to weather when we can remember the calm that comes after. Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Yeah, you might have some junk to clean up, but then take a moment to appreciate the peaceful morning.

Storm brewing behind a Palo Verde in 2019, captured with a Fujifilm X-T30 and Velvia recipe.

This article doesn’t have much to do with photography, but I hope that it is encouraging to some of you nonetheless. If there is a way to make this more photography-related, it is this: no matter if it is stormy in your life or a peaceful morning, get your camera and capture pictures. Expressing yourself through your images can be therapeutic, and there are many valuable lessons that could be learned.

Even though they can be scary, Monsoon thunderstorms are necessary for life in Arizona. They provide much-needed water to a parched land. They produce cooler temperatures on scorching days. The land becomes more lush and green in its wake. Similarly, your personal storms-of-life, although they’re awful to experience, can make you stronger and better, and perhaps are what will propel you forward to whatever is waiting for you tomorrow.

X100F & Weather Sealing


The Fujifilm X100F isn’t “weather sealed” and isn’t designed to take on harsh conditions. Is this a big deal? How important is weather sealing?

I recently took my X100F to Yellowstone National Park and inadvertently put it to the weather sealing test. It rained all day, pretty heavily at times, and the mineral-rich steam surrounded myself and my camera a number of times.

I did my best to keep the camera dry. I kept it in my pocket whenever I wasn’t using it and wiped the water off whenever I could. It still got fairly soaked at times.

At the Midway Geyser Basin the steam created a thick fog. I didn’t even realize how wet the camera had gotten until I saw that my wife’s eyeglasses were unusable. I looked down in horror to see water literally dripping from the camera. This mineral-rich moisture can ruin a lens if not wiped off completely before drying.


Disappearing Walkway – Yellowstone NP, WY – Fujifilm X100F

The rain was coming down pretty heavy at a few places we stopped, such as Kepler Cascades, Isa Lake, Yellowstone Lake, Mud Volcano, etc. The camera got more wet than I ever wanted it to.

The X100F survived all of this. It works 100% perfectly fine as if it never got wet. I’m not sure exactly how much water it can handle, and I imagine that fine dust might be a bigger issue, but it handled the elements well despite no weather sealing.

This begs the question: how important is weather sealing? Is it overrated? I think most cameras are designed in such a way that they can handle casual use in some adverse conditions. If it’s a little hot, cold, wet, or dusty, your camera should survive no worse for the wear. But if you are in more extreme circumstances, weather sealing could be the difference between shooting tomorrow or not.

If the conditions you shoot in aren’t terribly bad, you don’t likely need weather sealing, just take some appropriate precautions. If you shoot in particularly rough conditions, be sure to have weather sealed gear or else you risk ruining your camera. The X100F can take some weather, but there’s a limit, and you don’t really want to find out exactly what that limit is.