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Storm-chasing Kimberley photographer Benjamin Broadwith shares stunning timelapse video of WA’s North West

Rebecca Le MayThe West Australian
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Bandicoot Bar in Kununurra.
Camera IconBandicoot Bar in Kununurra. Credit: Ben Broadwith/Severe Weather Australia/Ben Broadwith / Severe Weather Australia

A daring Kimberley storm chaser has shared a spectacular timelapse video of epic weather in the State’s far north that took him 5000km of travel over three years to capture, all for the love of it.

Benjamin Broadwith largely earns his living as a commercial photographer and videographer, shooting everything from portraits to TV series drone footage.

Wild weather at Mirima National Park.
Camera IconWild weather at Mirima National Park. Credit: Ben Broadwith/Severe Weather Australia/Ben Broadwith / Severe Weather Australia

But during the wet season from around mid-October to March, the 44-year-old turns his skills to lightning-lit landscapes, capturing breathtaking images some people tell him have moved them to tears.

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“I’m very, very addicted to it. I get very anxious when there’s weather around. Everything - life, food, whatever’s happening must stop - and I grab the dog, and out we go,” he said.

“We chase these white fluffy things around the majestic East Kimberley. It’s 100 per cent passion and obsession.”

Fortunately, Kobie the Kelpie/Collie cross isn’t usually scared of thunder and lighting but there was at least one occasion when he was rattled by his master’s keenness to get right in the midst of the action.

“There’s a danger zone — when you get within 20km and in front of it, you’re in the lightning strike area,” Mr Broadwith said.

“I’ve had some way too close to me.

Ben Broadwith.
Camera IconBen Broadwith. Credit: Ben Broadwith/Severe Weather Australia/Ben Broadwith / Severe Weather Australia

“This one bolt ... flash, bang, immediate, within feet of me and even the dog was like ‘yeah, dad, come on’.”

Mr Broadwith estimates he has an 80-90 per cent chance of getting the shot he’s after when doing astronomy photography, knowing the moon phases, surrounded by boab trees thousands of years old.

“Everything is very controlled and predictable,” he said.

But with storms, it’s down to 20 per cent.

“I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen. I’ve got clouds and I’m hoping its going to build.”

Ex Tropical Cyclone Tiffany rages through Kununurra.
Camera IconEx Tropical Cyclone Tiffany rages through Kununurra. Credit: Ben Broadwith/Severe Weather Australia/Ben Broadwith / Severe Weather Australia

Mr Broadwith compiled the footage after Australian Geographic asked for more of his work for an immersive installation, realising he was sitting on “something pretty special” in his archive, with award-winning composer Jan Skubiszewski adding the score.

Entitled “Thunderstorm - North West Australia’s best storms from 2019-2022”, it’s available on his YouTube channel “Ben Broady”.

“I have no attachment where it ends up: I have the thrill of the chase and then I get the pretty pictures,” he said.

“When you do something that you’re passionate about, you’ve got to love what you’re seeing.”

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