Storm chaser Marty Pouwelse looks for striking pictures across south-east Queensland as storm season heats up

Mundoolun man Marty Pouwelse does not run for cover at the sight of bad weather, he embraces it.

Mr Pouwelse was bitten by the severe weather bug as a child, and he has been attracted ever since.

He strives for the perfect lightning shot while racing to stay ahead of storms which rip through south-east Queensland every summer.

His love for the wild weather began in Victoria, where Mr Pouwelse was fascinated by lightning.

"As soon as I could drive I would try and position myself for the best view with no real idea what I was doing," he said.

He moved from a plastic camera to a SLR, and began to take it everywhere.

"Photographing storms and trying to capture lightning on film was my obsession from the beginning," he said.

The buzz of capturing a great bolt or cloud structure still excites him, and Mr Pouwelse has turned a hobby into work.

"My photographic passion eventually became my full time job in 2008 when I started a photography business. I'm still chasing storms trying to capture a new best lightning shot."

He travels across the region when weather reports say storms are coming, and the Darling Downs is a favourite spot for watching, with flat terrain and unobstructed views.

On some days, Mr Pouwelse will drive hundreds of kilometres in search of a perfect photo, but come back with nothing.

Sometimes, the best storms come to him, and Mr Pouwelse will capture a stunning lightning shot from his back deck.

"I've captured some of my best lightning photos without having to leave the house," he said.

"I figure this is the reward for the bust chases. It all comes out in the wash."

He said before a chase day, he would pore over weather models to try to learn where the best storm would go, before settling on a target area.

"Most storms peak around mid-to-late afternoon so if the hotspot is over the Darling Downs, then I'll head out around midday. It's important to get out there before stuff fires so you're not playing catch-up later.

"Then it's a matter of trying to stay ahead of the storms for the best view, which can be challenging due to limited roads or how fast the storm is moving."

Google Maps has come in handy, allowing Mr Pouwelse to accrue a list of favourite locations.

Avoid the city, he said, where peak hour traffic and obstructed views could make conditions even more challenging.

"Google maps terrain view is really handy for showing how the hills roll and any potential geographical obstructions," he said.

Beginners would find the hobby challenging, but rewarding.

Mr Pouwelse urged would-be storm chasers to stay safe. Knowledge of weather and how to keep out of harm's way is essential.

If you cannot get out of the way of a storm, stay in your car.

"Lightning can jump well ahead of a storm," Mr Pouwelse said.

"If you can hear thunder, you're in danger."

He had one close call in Darwin while photographing a Top End monsoon.

"All I had was an umbrella and my camera and the smart move would've been to high tail it when it got close," he said.

"While scarcely hiding myself and my camera behind a brolly that threatened to either collapse or fly off, a lightning bolt struck the wharf with a blinding light, and the distinctly brief and sharp snap of a very close strike.

"If a lightning strike is 1km away, the sound of its thunder takes three seconds to arrive. When the light and sound are instantaneous, you know it's close."

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