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My passion for photography
Hello! It took me awhile to decide whether to write this bio part of my photography site in first person or third person. Many of the fine artist websites that have a bio section describe the artist in third person, but that just seems a little more distant to me. I want the visitors and potential customers of my work to feel as though they are truly interacting with me and not some sort of facade of myself. I designed this website by myself from the ground up using PHP and MySQL -- combining my love and skills of fine art nature photography with my love of programming/coding. Everything you see on this website is my design (but taking some ideas for a multitude of other photography websites I enjoy visiting, of course). The only thing on this website that is not my code is Captcha (for new member registration) and Paypal interaction. Many hours of coding went into this website, striving for a simple yet effective design which incorporates some membership interaction (including photography comments and order feedback). I truly hope you enjoy what you see here and continue to visit back as new pieces are added to the gallery. It is the main reason why I built this site -- to share with you and everyone else some of the amazing and beautiful scenes of the atmosphere and the natural world around us.

My love of photography really began in 1993 when I took my first photograph of a storm while on a summer vacation with my family. I knew right then that this was what I wanted to do with my life -- experience and photograph the raw power and beauty of nature -- particularly the tumultuous atmosphere that can exist across the Great Plains of the United States in the spring and summer months. I began storm chasing seriously in 1998 using an 8mm camcorder to document most of my endeavors. It wasn't until 2001 when I began to dabble more into photography using a clunky Nikon Coolpix camera. From 2001 to 2005, I really began to struggle with what I wanted to do with my storm chasing. It seemed like all the storm chasers were wanting to shoot video and get that amazing tornado footage. I really wanted to focus my efforts on the finer artistic aspects of storms and the atmosphere, and with the purchase of my first digital SLR camera in January 2005, this love exploded. My first digital SLR was a Nikon D70. The images that came from this camera were simply amazing for digital photography at the time. My passion for photography from this point forward only continued to grow, and it totally changed the way I chased storms. It all became about capturing that perfect moment in time, whether it be the spectacular sky full of mammatus over a golden wheat field in sunset light, or the intense drama of a tall tornado on the High Plains. I decided that I wanted to capture these moments with the best photography equipment I could possibly afford (or perhaps NOT afford in some cases!). I decided to stick with Nikon after purchasing the D70 as Nikon offers the best optics in the field for wide angle photography.

Since the Nikon D70, I have owned the D200 (which I still use as a backup as of late 2011) and now the D700 and D3 as my primary camera bodies in the field. I use both cameras interchangably in the field to limit changing lenses, and both cameras offer some of the best low light imaging in the field. I equip these bodies with only the best Nikkor glass I can get my hands on -- including the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 ultra wide angle lens, which is perhaps the finest ultra-wide angle zoom lens on the market. This combination of using the best equipment in the field and the experience of intercepting severe storms with an artistic approach has resulted in the capturing of some of the most unique images you will find anywhere. The last step in creating the final image is post-processing, and my love of the digital darkroom has allowed me to recover some of the incredible color and contrast you will see in many of the images on this website. I try to process my images with an artistic slant, yet keeping true the amazing scene I was able to experience when I pressed the shutter. While tonal movements and color adjustments are crucial steps in post processing, physical elements are never added to a scene and none of the images on my website are composite images. In some images, minor physical elements may be removed to achieve my artistic goal of the particular image.

Outside of storms and the atmosphere, I have a secondary love of landscapes and wildlife (particularly large birds). I have done serious photography shoots at several National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges across the western half of the country with my favorite areas being Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. My website is broken down into three main galleries: Inspired by Atmosphere (a reflection of the finest moments I have captured of the dynamic and beautiful atmosphere -- particularly storms), Inspired by Earth (a reflection of the gorgeous moments of Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming landscapes), and Inspired by Wildlife (a growing gallery of some of my favorite moments capturing wildlife -- particularly in their habitat). Once again, I want to thank you for visiting my website!

-Mike Umscheid