“A Perfect Cloud” by Francisco Negroni. Photo location: Pucón, Chile “Nope. That’s not a photo of Mount Doom. This is a gigantic lenticular cloud surrounding the crater of the Villarrica volcano, while the lava illuminates the cloud from within. Francisco Negroni camped out at the volcano—one of Chile’s most active—for ten days to capture this special moment, during a period of intense volcanic activity.”
Every year, the Royal Meteorological Society holds the Standard Chartered Weather Photographer of the Year as a way to celebrate the power of visual artistry in storytelling. This year's newly released shortlist of images offers a striking portrayal of the effects of climate change from perspectives across the globe.
All of the shortlisted images are up for a special award decided by a public vote. You can cast your vote until September 24, 2023, and make sure that your favorite image has your support. Whether taken with a smartphone or a DSLR, all of the shortlisted photos demonstrate the technical prowess and keen observation skills necessary to tell a story about the weather.
From fires to floods, extreme weather is at the core of many works. And many of the photographers go to great lengths in order to tell these stories of these situations. For instance, Azim Khan Ronnie traveled straight to the Bangladeshi city of Kishoreganj when flooding in 2022 rendered millions homeless. Once there, he rented a boat and used his drone to make the world more aware of the devastating event.
Other photographers focused on rare events, like rainbow-hued polar stratospheric clouds or red sprites. Photographer Francisco Negroni even camped for 10 days near a highly active volcano in Chile just to get the perfect shot of a lenticular cloud circling the glowing cauldron. His perseverance paid off when he came away with what he calls, “one of my most beautiful photographs.”
The high quality of these images means that the judges certainly have their work cut out for them in selecting an overall winner. The winners of the main, mobile, and youth contests, which will be pulled from the finalist shortlist, are set to be announced on October 5. In the meantime, enjoy some of our favorites and then head over to vote for your favorite.
Check out some of our favorite finalists from the 2023 Standard Chartered Weather Photographer of the Year Contest.
“Chugwater Tornado” by Cristiano Xavier. Photo location: Wyoming – USA. “This photo captures the immense power of a massive whirling tornado. Cristiano Xavier followed a large storm in southern Wyoming as it grew, hoping it might give him a chance to get a shot of a tornado like this one. In the foreground you can see a farmhouse—dwarfed by the scale of the ‘twister.'”
“Fichtelberg Mountain” by Christoph Schaarschmidt. Photo location: On the Fichtelberg in Saxony, Germany. “A number of factors conspired together to sculpt this scene: strong winds; over a meter of snow; and temperatures far below zero. The icy build up in the landscape is actually a combination of snow and rime—ice that forms when supercooled water droplets in a fog freeze onto a surface. Also essential to this landscape was the clear view—unusual on this mountain, which is often covered in a thick fog—and the Fichtelberg meteorological station, which sits at an altitude of 1214 meters and has been measuring the weather since 1916.”
“Snowflake Fall” by Diana Neves. Photo location: Staffordshire, UK. “Diana Neves captured the fragile beauty of a snowflake while enjoying a walk with her partner in Staffordshire in the UK. While each snowflake is unique, this one also holds a special significance for Diana: ‘I was recovering from depression at the time, and the snowflake reminded me to look for happiness in everything you see.'”
“Forest Fire Boundary” by Tran Tuan. Photo location: Bac Giang province, Vietnam “This scorching snap captures the devastation that forest fires cause to the natural world. Photographer, Tran Tuan, used a drone to reveal a forest split in two: one side ablaze, the other still lush with life… for now. Tran took this photo in the Bac Giang province of Vietnam, but forest fires like this one are devastating every corner of the globe (except for Antarctica). While wildfires are often sparked by human activity or lightning strikes, climate change is pouring fuel on the fire, by creating hotter—and in many regions—drier conditions, and more combustible material. This has been linked with fires that can burn longer, and spread further.”
“Worst Flooding by Azim Khan Ronnie. Photo location: Kishoreganj, Bangladesh. “That’s not an island you’re looking at, but the devastation caused by flooding in Bangladesh in 2022. These floods cost dozens their lives and made millions homeless in a heartbeat. Photographer Azim Khan Ronnie was dedicated to documenting the terrible impacts of this flooding, travelling to the district of Kishoreganj and hiring a boat so he could photograph villages struck by the high waters.”
“Country Supercell” by Sara Bruce. Photo location: between Mexico and Centralia, USA “Photographer Sara Bruce captured this dramatic image of a supercell in Missouri in the USA. For Sara, capturing this moment had profound significance, as it came just three days after the death of her grandparents.”
“Flight in the Storm” by Daniela Solera Meneses. Photo location: San José, Costa Rica “In this photo, Daniela Solera Meneses captures the urgency during a downpour in San José, Costa Rica. As the world heats due to climate change, the atmosphere can hold more water. So, when it rains, it pours.”
The public has until September 24 to vote for their favorite image.
“Ethel Alice” by Mersea Millsy. Photo location: Mersea Island, Essex, United Kingdom “This photo captures two stunning sights: the remnants of the double rainbow; and the historic 1897 fishing vessel, Ethel Alice. Photographer Shaun Mills, who captured the shot shortly after a storm had passed, says that the double rainbow had been even more striking moments earlier.”
“Polar Stratospheric Cloud” by Tania Engbo Dyck-Madsen. Photo location: Øvre Svatsum, Espedalen, southern Norway “This trippy photo reveals the vibrant beauty of the extremely rare polar stratospheric clouds, also known as nacreous or mother-of-pearl clouds. Photographer Tania Engbo Dyck-Madsen didn’t think she’d ever get a chance to capture an image like this after she missed her chance two days earlier. But luckily another of these ethereal clouds appeared during her trip to Norway, and this time she had her camera gear at the ready.”
“Red Sprite Lightning over the Ama Drime Snow Mountain” by Zhengjie Wu. Photo location: Tibet, China “This is an elegant example of red sprite lightning, captured by photographer Zhengjie Wu. Zhengjie was camping at an altitude of 4800 meters by Zongzuo Lake in China, when a blizzard struck. After the snow passed, thunderstorms continued in the distance, and Zhenjie seized the opportunity to take photos, capturing these elusive sprites in action.”
The winners will be announced on October 5, 2023.
“Waterlogged” by Sudipta Chatterjee. Photo location: Kolkata, West Bengal, India. “In this photo, Sudipta Chatterjee reminds us of the impacts that extreme weather events can have on humans and animals alike. In June 2021, an extreme high tide caused the Hooghly River to overflow its banks, flooding the streets of Kolkata, in India.”
“Fire in Man-Made Jungle” by Mahmudul Hasan. Photo location: Dhaka, Bangladesh. “This photo blurs the lines between the human and natural worlds, as a fire blazes through a human-made jungle. Photographer, Mahmudul Hasan, captured the image in Bangladesh.”