Winging My Way Back Home

With thunder storms predicted for the afternoon and the only severe storms in the country in the far eat part of the US we didn’t feel too bad knowing that it was time to go home. Brian and Keith dropped us off at around noon and we said our goodbyes and headed off to our respective destinations. My first destination was the Denver Airport where I had to while away about six hours. Don had an even longer wait so we found a spot at a Mexican Cantina to while the hours away. The “sails” of the Denver airport caught my attention so I wandered around for a bit working the different angles until I came upon the escalator…

I said a last goodbye to Don and headed to my gate. With thunderheads building, I had to pull out my D300s with 18-200mm lens for the flight home. We flew right through the updrafts leaving Denver…

Around about Pocatello, the clouds dissipated and we had the patchwork of the topographic landscape below to enjoy…

It was a gorgeous flight from Denver to Portland with a final photo opportunity as we passed by my Welcome Home landmark…Mt Hood bathed in late afternoon light…

Images Captured with Nikon D3, AF 16mm Fisheye, D300s, AF-S 18-200mm VR on Lexar Digital Media

Storm Chase 2010…It’s A Wrap!

Wow, I can hardly believe a week has gone by. It was a week filled with all kinds of excitement (tornadoes, smashed windows, the thrill of the chase), many, many miles (4000 total) six states (Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota & Minnesota). We chased storms, photographed old barns, houses and other wonderful old buildings that screamed Americana along the way. I saw Devils Tower for the first time (in bad light so, no photos), ate at fast food restaurants and handy marts and had a great time!

Our final day we had to get in range of Denver for our departures so, that dictated where we could chase but, we got on a cell that looked promising with clouds showing strong updrafts, a good shear to help stir them up and favorable conditions (lot’s of moisture in the air) to make a good storm. While we didn’t get tornadoes (or even a severe storm) we did get some dramatic skies (and one funnel cloud) to finish up our week…

I want to thank the adventurous souls (Don, Fran, John & Paul) who joined me on this crazy, hair raising adventure and I especially want to thank Brian and Keith for their heroic efforts to get us in the best possible spots to capture severe weather and making lemonade by finding us some other great subjects to point our lenses at when there was no severe weather to chase. I am already looking forward to next year’s Excellent Adventure Storm Chasing in Tornado Alley (May 15-22, 2011).

Images captured with Nikon D3S, AF-S 14-24mm, D300S, AF-S 18-200mm on Lexar Digital Media

Storm Chase 2010…Day Six

Our luck changed today. Of course, to make that luck change we had to drive across So Dakota and into Minnesota to get on a storm. We left Ogallala, NE early in order to be in position when the storms broke loose. We drove and drove and drove watching the radar showing us storms forming to our east. We finally got into Minnesota and in position for the storm. While it was a big storm with more and more cells popping up and joining the primary cell making a long line that kept moving east, northeast. There was a lot of cloud cover making it a bit messy but, we finally got in position and had the opportunity to photograph some amazing weather…

At one point the storm turned south east and we had to keep moving to stay ahead of the core. As we drove through one town (they area all a blur at this point) the tornado alarm was sounding. The radar showed wheels of fortune spinning all along the storm front which means the potential for tornadoes.

With a rain shield between us and the storms it was unlikely that we would see a tornado but, we kept working the clouds…

As evening approached, the skies got darker and darker with lightning flashing inside the clouds constantly. We were unable to see and lightning bolts due to the heavy rain but, enjoyed the show anyway. I used the lightning trigger set in shutter priority, 1/15 of a second to trigger the shutter…

We finally pulled into Worthington, MN at 11:00pm, dead tired yet exhilarated for having spent several hours of active storm chasing. When I got into my room, there was a line tornadoes touching down to the south of our location. While we love the effects and visuals of storms and tornadoes, my heart goes out to those who get caught in their path and suffer the effects. I hope no one was injured as the tornadoes tore through town after town in the dark last night and early this morning.

Storm Chase 2010 Day Four…Positioning Day

After driving over 500 miles the previous day we now had to get back into western Nebraska/Colorado to be in position for the next series of storms. Positioning days can be fun as we find interesting things to photograph along the way. We headed down the interstate first to make time and once we were within range of our destination we began looking for subjects to photograph keeping our shutter fingers limber. We found an old, abandonded house that looked like someone simply walked away one day leaving it suspended in time…

Looking through the front door to the outdoors I paused to wonder what the story is that caused the inhabitants of long ago to leave all their furnishings and personal possessions behind…who lived here, why did they leave so suddenly, what was their story? I guess I’ll never know.

A short way down the road we found another abandonded building (The Great Western Sugar Company) that had tons of charachter. Boy would I like to get inside of this building…

And right across the street was what looked like an outdoor museum of old farm implements. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to find some cool photographs. I love the patina of weathered, rusty metal and the graphic elements they provide…

With 400 miles under our belt, we are now back in good position to work the storms that are predicted to form in northeast Colorado/ southeast Dakotas. Stay tuned…

Images captured with Nikon D3S, AF-S 14-24mm, D300S, AF-S 18-200mm on Lexar Digital Media