On a current occasion – who knows when the opportunity will come again. Photographing mushroom clouds is not easy, generally the relevant photos come from official places, because the people who grow the mushrooms usually make sure that only authorised personnel are allowed to the relevant photo spots.
Therefore, there is not much help on this.
In the past, the photographers were usually informed in time about the place and time of the explosion, but that’s a non-starter if you are not in the relevant command structure. So it is rather unlikely that you already have a camera in your hand at the right time. If you knew that, you could of course activate ProCapture. But let’s talk about distances and focal lengths first.
With a medium-power nuclear explosion (20kt – Nagasaki bomb), first-degree burns occur up to about 5km away, so you should stay further away. At 10km, you are also on the safe side in the case of a 100kt explosion. However, the shock wave is still so strong that it will immediately blow a normal tripod over, so Berlebach Uni is the tripod of choice and ideally a good windbreak in front of it. For larger bombs, such as 100kt, a distance of 20km is recommended. Attention! The shock wave arrives quite some time after the explosion. Trees, bushes, sheds, roofs can take on a life of their own and damage the tripod. So it is best to build a solid concrete wall in good time, behind which you can set up the tripod.
The atomic flash itself is impossible to catch for the amateur, that is also not very photogenic. The “MustKnips” is the classic mushroom cloud. This only appears clearly after the explosion, within several minutes. The height of the mushroom cloud depends on the weather and the location of the explosion, but you have to reckon with a few kilometres in any case. Focal lengths of 25 to 45 mm would be suitable, and with the 12-40 or 12-45 you are on the safe side. However, you should make sure that the lens cap is still on the lens during the explosion, as the atomic flash can blow off the sensor.
The mushroom cloud is particularly spectacular when it spreads later. So you should shoot in landscape format from the outset.
If you don’t use a tripod, but shoot handheld, this can be changed quickly, but the camera’s stabiliser may not be able to compensate for the photographer’s wobbling caused by the shock waves.
In principle, you should write down the RAW as well as the JPG. The light changes several times during the spread of the mushroom, you may have to adjust the WB afterwards. ISO 200, aperture 8.
The sample image is a scan of an analogue film, the highlights are eroded. But the “glow” only lasts a few seconds, the faded atomic mushroom no longer has these problems. If you really want to capture the high dynamic range, use ArtFilter “Ligth Tone”.
Autofocus ideally on manual, the air turbulence after a nuclear explosion is high, so the AF may have a problem, and it would be a pity to miss such a motif. AF on rapidly changing cloud structures is often unreliable. Under certain circumstances, set a PreMF to the appropriate distance in advance, especially with the OM-1 with the latest firmware, this is a good solution that you can also use for star shots. Leave the continuous shooting function alone. One picture every second is enough and does not overload the memory card. If you are working from a tripod, perhaps a timelapse – but note that the timelapse video is 16:9. The height can be tight. Only the OM-1 can do exact timelapses, the earlier cameras are always a second behind.
Foreground makes picture healthy.
Even with an atomic explosion, you should not neglect the old rule. So make sure you have an eycatcher in the foreground. Since the blast wave is already through, you could have some photogenic LostPlace ruins standing around, if you don’t have that, maybe put a person from the bunker in the foreground, but watch thedepth of field. At 35mm f/8 the hyperfocal distance is 22 metres, so a portrait is unlikely to work, but as a focal point a person will work. In terms of the pose, perhaps less to Heidi Klum than to photos of other wars of our transatlantic friends. Vietnam in particular is a good source of inspiration.
You don’t have to worry about ionising radiation; today’s SD cards can withstand it. In the case of a nuclear explosion near the ground, there is also no EMP that could ruin things that are not already done in by heat and pressure.
However, due to the overall situation, the possibilities to then upload the picture to Insta may be limited.
Then show us the picture in the next life.