In Memory

A special thanks to all those who have gone before and those who continue to fight for the freedom that we, as Americans, enjoy!

Care & Feeding Of A New Toy…Tool

As many of you know from my previous posts, I am often out in extreme weather, whether it’s rain, snow, hail, sub-zero temperatures, blowing sand, humidity, salt air, the steam from thermal features or debris from a tornado and I need to be able to count on my equipment to keep working for me in these extreme conditions. I take precautions to protect myself against the elements it’s only right that I do what I can to protect my equipment and outfit it to work at the top of it’s performance for me. Enter my friends at LensCoat and Really Right Stuff to have just the right items to keep my lens in fighting condition, ready to perform at the drop of shutter finger no matter what the condition…

I start by covering my new lens with a lens cover and a Hoodie lens cap to protect it against the elements as well as from scratches and scuffs when I am shooting from a blind or window to avoid scratching the finish and to cushion the lens. The next thing I do is replace the original foot with a Really Right Stuff replacement foot so that I am ready to mount my new lens on my Really Right Stuff gimbal head…

Now that my equipment is outfitted to face all that nature has to throw at it bring on the next adventure! Stay tuned…

Storm Chase Adventure Day 6

I think one of the storm chase guides said it best when he mentioned being caught up in a storm when he was a child. The storm chased him and he had to run for cover and hide to survive but, as a storm chaser, we are the ones pursuing the super cells. Something about being the one pursuing seems to give us the upper hand. We are mobile, we can escape. The folks in Joplin, Missouri were not so fortunate. With only twenty minutes warning those that could were only able to run for cover, hoping to survive the onslaught. Their homes, businesses and many loved ones were not spared. My thoughts and prayers go out to them as their lives have been turned completely upside down by yesterday’s devastating tornado. We were on that storm but, when it headed towards hilly, treed terrain we had the option of dropping back to work another storm capturing a similar wedge tornado to the one that hit Joplin. We were three miles away from the tornado and could still hear the freight train sound of it’s approach, the tearing of metal as it ripped everything in it’s path to shreds and the sounds of debris colliding in mid-air. It is a sound I will never forget. It soon became rain wrapped and while we could still hear it, we couldn’t see it. I can’t begin imagine the terror they must have felt.

Storm Chase Adventure Day 5…What A Show

Our day began with the forecast calling for a slight risk of super cells along the eastern Kansas and Oklahoma border which was not too far from where we spent the night so we had the opportunity to stop along the way and work and old farm. Inside the barn was a wall of tools that had not been touched in ages. In order to convey the weathered, aged feeling of a time long forgotten, I converted the image to B&W and then added an 85 warming filter using OnOne PhotoTools to give it the old time sepia look…

(To see more of this effect and more watch my OnOne webinar Wed May 25th at 1:00PM Pacific time)

Tank spotted a couple of old jugs hanging from nails that had been broken. The light passing through the glass was throwing an interesting shadow on the wall. I used NIK Toanl Contrast to bring out the detail and texture of the wood…

The radar began displaying building storms so we jumped in the van and headed towards eastern Kansas to get in position. As we neared our target area we could see the storms beginning to form with string updrafts…

And several anvil clouds indicating good conditions for a super cell…

Unfortunately, eastern Kansas doesn’t have the flat terrain that we had been working all week but, Brian and Tank worked their magic to get us positioned in the best location to watch the storm. It was incredible to watch the rotation and see funnel clouds form. We didn’t get an actual tornado but, it was as close as you can get as we did see a few funnel clouds reach towards the earth before drawing back and the structure of the storm made for some outstanding photo opportunities…

As the storm began to move away, we jumped in the van and headed off to intercept it once again all the while watching it through the windows. There were times it looked like the cell was right on top of us and we were looking up into the center of the rotation. It was certainly a rush…

We continued to work the storm until it had moved away again and then headed off. We now had a couple hour drive to get to our hotel and there was an even bigger storm forming that could cut us off from the interstate. With darkness fully upon us the situation could be far more dangerous as you can’t see the storm approaching visually and have to rely on the radar so we didn’t stop for the incredible lightning show while it was at it’s peak but, we were able to watch it through the van windows and once it was safe to stop, even though it was getting late we stopped to photograph and enjoy the show for awhile. While we didn’t get the super intense cloud to ground strikes it was a show to end all shows with hardly a few seconds passing without some area of the sky illuminated…

We arrived in El Dorado, KS around midnight tired and yet exhilarated by the amazing event we had been fortunate enough to witness. We have one more chase day and it looks like we will get on some more storms. Stay tuned. 428 miles.

Images created with Nikon D3X, AF-S 28-300mm VR, D3S, AF-S 14-24mm 2.8 on Lexar digital media and processed in Photoshop using OnOne and NIK plug-ins