See how Northwest is a treasure trove of awesome weather photographers

Northern Lights dance over the Western Washington skies. (Photo: Liem Bahneman)

As we all know, the Pacific Northwest truly is a beautiful place, and no where is that more evident than when you look at some of the portfolios of the region's great photographers.

Personally, I'm a big sucker for weather photography -- as anyone who has read this blog before can probably surmise -- and I'm grateful to several photographers who keep me in the loop when they capture something spectacular.

I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce some of them to you as the people behind the photos who are out and about in the rain, snow, cold and rare sunshine to immortalize some of nature's most spectacular displays.

You can see more of their favorite photos in the photo gallery.

Liem Bahneman

Liem was instrumental in our Seattle Supermoon coverage, even using special software that could calculate where the moon would be in relative position to Seattle landmarks and topography to get that perfect shot.

But he has also been one of my go-to photographers on those rare occasions when the Northern Lights are out, helping me out via Twitter when he's at a location and can see the lights. He's even sent photos of what the lights look like on his camera viewfinder as a preview to what's coming.

Jonathan Cooper

Jonathan has been one of my longest contributors providing several amazing Seattle skyline shots through the years. He says among his favorite is this one from a snow event in January 2003. (Remember when it used to snow in Seattle?)

"Queen Anne was shut down at the counter balance and people were sledding on anything they could find down the hill," he said. "I parked at the bottom and walked up and waiting for twilight. It was about 30 degrees."

He does branch out into the suburbs though, capturing this amazing shelf cloud during a thunderstorm event last May.

Clane Gessel

Clane's portfolio has been all over the region (and world) but this one of Seattle from Gas Works Park is one of my all time favorites (yes, not exactly weather related, but still, I love the colors)

Clane lives in Queen Anne and is also an award-winning wedding photographer and has some of his work featured in the ultimate photographed Seattle icon -- the Space Needle.

Before Clane knew photography was his passion, he moved to Utah where he discovered his love for landscape photography. But it was Clane's love for Seattle that brought him back, "I always knew the only place I wanted to be was Seattle. The creative base here inspires and encourages new and open ways of thinking." Upon his arrival, Clane was asked to shoot a friends wedding and the rest was history.

"Everybody loves photography it's a way to visually express yourself and show your vision. I decided to start shooting to show my vision of how I see things," says Clane. "My love of the outdoors and getting people excited about the great place we live is why I love landscapes. I choose to do weddings because of the people aspect."

Wade B. Clark, Jr.

Wade has also been a very long-time contributor to the blog with his amazing Northern Lights photos from his perch out in Sedro-Woolley. He is quite in tune with the aurora forecasts and heads to a favorite spot out near Mt. Shuksan where he can usually find it dark enough to see the lights - - many times with spectacular mountain backgrounds. His work has been featured on the Astronomy Picture of the Day site multiple times.

"I've loved the night sky since I was a small boy, and (although life and work seem to get in the way sometimes) I've never lost my fascination with it," he said. "This part of the country is a scenic it was a natural thing for us to experiment with hiking and photography. It has become a permanent fixture in our lives now."

He says his desire is to give a glimpse of the beauty and serenity, "of both this lovely land, and the delicately star lit canopy of night sky above."

Brad Goldpaint

Brad is now based out of Oregon and wowed me with some incredible nighttime photos of the Northern Lights and the stars. I was introduced to his work when he got what he says is the first documented photo of the Northern Lights at Oregon's Crater Lake.

He says he discovered his passion for photography while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail about three years ago in the days following his mother's passing.

(And check out his amazing time lapse videos as well)

Chris Teren
& Traci Walter

Northern LIghts dance over Friday Harbor in 2012

A couple who came together through love of photography, they are my "North Sound Bureau" capturing thunderstorms and Northern Lights photos from their perch in the San Juan Islands.

Chris has been in the islands since 1995, "and have enjoyed every second witnessing some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife I could have ever imagined."

He said he first got the "shutter bug" as a child in Sun Valley, Idaho. "(I) carried that passion with me throughout my whole life. I really enjoy photographing the natural wonders of the San Juan Islands and all over the world, from aerials, weather, landscapes and wildlife, to underwater and macro photography. And I get no greater pleasure than sharing these photos with people all over the world!"

The photo above is from a Northern Lights episode in 2012 over Friday Harbor.

"I have been an Aurora watcher for over 20 years, and all I can say is it takes patience, skill, and ability to not freeze while standing out in the cold and dark Northwest nights for hours at a time, night after night. For this shot, I was outside from 11pm till 3am for 3 nights in a row, shooting thousands and thousands of frames, until I captured just the one I wanted." He has a time lapse of some many of the photos on YouTube.

Chris' girlfriend Traci is also quite the photographer -- primarily shooting wildfire and nature. She grew up for Wisconsin and came to the San Juans for the whales, but her photography goes far beyond.

"I have come to love the times I get to capture true raw human emotion. My favorite images of people stem from observing a personal moment and capturing it without them knowing," she said. "I think when people know a camera is around, they act different. I try to capture images that when the people in them see the image they remember the emotions they felt come back clear as day."

Donald Jensen

Sunrise from Kerry Park, January 17, 2013. The sun rises through a crack in the sky between a layer of clouds and fog.

Don Jensen has been focusing on the Cascades the past year as part of a project to make time lapse videos and take the viewer on a virtual tour of the wonders of Washington State (although as you see above, he's still around Seattle as well.)

He's at over 11,000 photos so far and has quite the videos to show for it.

"I moved to Seattle in 2005 and haven't looked back," he said. "I love everything about the beauty and variety of the Pacific Northwest. I am an avid outdoors person who loves it all; from high mountain ridges, to being buried in the rain forest, to waiting for sunset on one of the beaches. "

Next up: A virtual tour of the coastline, the rain forest, and a feature on Seattle

Scott Wood

Thunderstorm rages over Olympia, Wash. in July, 2012

Scott is a more of a storm-chasing photographer and has plenty of lightning strikes to provei ti.

"I was fascinated with cameras from the first time I found my parents 110 Instamatic and proceeded to shoot all of their film," he said. "Of course I didn't tell them and they discovered it the next time they grabbed the camera for a family get together. I was probably 9 or 10 when that happened."

But his passion for weather came even sooner.

"When I was 7 and was watching a particularly powerful thunderstorm from our kitchen window and I was a bolt strike a house down the street, not only was the lightning bolt gorgeous, the shower of blue sparks as the power panel exploded was also stunning. Needless to say, my parents were not really on board to allow me to go out and try to get lightning images when I was still young, I can only imaging the great shots I missed then."

He then went into the Air Force and was sent to Illinois during tornado season.

"That is when I think I truly became a storm chasing photographer, even though I didn't hear the term 'storm chaser' until many years later."

Steve Rosenow

Steve is based over in Shelton and his photography goes well beyond our skies with a passion for astronomy photos as well. But he's kept me in the loop with some great noctilucent cloud appearances in the summer as well as the Norther Lights.

He started as an amateur in the late 1990s but began his own photography business at the behest of friends.

"I do just about everything as far as photography goes, with the exception of underwater," he says. "I have an 8-inch Meade electronic telescope which allows me to track the heavens and it's allowed me to capture some fantastic deep sky and planetary stuff."

Never wanting to miss a moment, he takes his Nikon everywhere.

"Some of my most favorite shots I have taken, are the lightning events we saw last July, plus some electric skies from Noctilucent clouds the year prior! Additionally, I have also taken a series of photos last October, illustrating that famous "Salmon crossing the road" phenomenon that occurs each fall out at the famous Skokomish River, and those are some of my best!"

Thanks to all you photographers and keep those eyes on the skies!