Archives for May 2012

Excellent Photo Adventures…Storm Chase 3

The prediction today was for high based, non-severe thunder storm activity in eastern Co/NW Kansas so we loaded up the van and headed in that direction.  As we headed north we began to see some updrafts and found a spot to stop and photograph them.  I moved in close on an area with wildflowers placing them in the foreground to add color and depth to the image…

Nikon D4,AF-S 14-24mm f2.8...200 ISO f22 @ 1/125

 

We stopped at the “Tower”, a tourist attraction, to while away a bit more time as it was still early for the potential storm.  I was drawn to the light, pattern and colors of a basket of bottles…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR...200 ISO f16 @ 1/125

 

While we were “playing tourist” we also kept an eye to the skies watching the updrafts build and then dissipate over and over getting stronger as the afternoon wore on.  We continued in the direction that Brian had felt would give us the greatest possibilities for a thunder storm and sure enough, in early afternoon the sky began to exhibit some nice structure, updrafts and Virga…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR...100 ISO f13 @ 1/15

 

It wasn’t long before the lightning began and what a show it was.  We spent a good hour or more (and that’s a long time in one place when storm chasing) working the lightning as it flashed all around us.  There is nothing quite like the experience of brilliant flashes of light followed by the rumbling of thunder and the smell of rain in the air.  The easy part was setting up and letting the Lightning Trigger work it’s magic.  The hard part was deciding where to aim the camera as there was lightning nearly every direction you turned…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR...100 ISO f13 @ 1/15

 

Once again Brian and Tank evaluated the models for a severe storm and put us right where we needed to be.  We were on the only storm for 600 miles.  We stuck with the storm until it finally stopped and then headed to Colby, KS for dinner a bed.  The prediction for the next few days looks promising for some more severe weather.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Excellent Photo Adventures…Storm Chasing 2

With little chance for severe storms for the day we looked ahead at the models to see where we needed to be over the next few days and then headed in that general direction.  Positioning days mean driving towards an area that may produce storms but without the intensity of actually being on the chase.  That gives us a chance to stop at abandoned homesteads and old farms to work the wonderful variety of weathered buildings and misc items left behind.  I decided to focus on doors and windows to see what I could come up with.  In the town of Folsom, just south of the Colorado border a storefront caught my eye…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR...100 ISO f8 @ 1/20

 

A stop at Model, Colorado ended up lasting for several hours as we wandered around what looks like a ghost town but still has seventeen families in the town and immediate area.  It’s kind of spooky thinking about living in a town filled with abandoned houses, cars and possessions left behind.  I was drawn to this open window with what id left of the curtains fluttering in the wind.  While the window is a vertical orientation, I opted to go horizontal to include the weathered wood with it’s wonderfully faded colors…

Nikon D800, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR...100 ISO f8 @ 1/90

 

Mile after mile, town after town we stopped when something caught our eye and worked it.  Sticking with my theme I went looking for doors and windows at each stop looking for something with color, graphic patterns and character.  At each stop I managed to find a good subject to aim my lens at.  In most cases I wandered with one camera, one lens and no tripod for the mobility…a far cry from my normally overburdened bag of bodies and lenses.  As I approached peered into one window I saw a door so, I positioned myself to frame the door through the window using a five frame handheld HDR to capture both the interior and exterior with detail…

Nikon D4, AF-S 24-120mm f4 R...400 ISO f8 5 frame HDR

 

I made one last frame before we headed to Trinidad, CO for the night…

Nikon D800, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR...100 ISO f8 @ 1/125

 

Back at the hotel I let my creative juices flow as I worked the images.  NIK filters allowed me to finish each image with the effect I was after whether it be the grunge look or a faded B&W.  So, while we didn’t find any storms (there were none within several hundred miles) we still had a fun and successful day.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Excellent Photo Adventures…Storm Chasing

I really look forward to this week each year. There’s nothing like witnessing the amazing power of nature and the furies she unleashes. Over the years I’ve photographed tornados, super cells, lightning and old farmsteads along the way. The night before our adventure began we made a trip to the Oklahoma City National Memorial; the site of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The site is now a beautiful reflection pond with a wall at each end with 9:01 on one and 9:03 on the other representing the times just before and after the 9:02am bombing on April 19 where 168 people were killed. The memorial site is a lovely, peaceful place with 168 illuminated chairs each inscribed with the name of the person killed…

Each morning Brian and Tank give an overview of the weather forecast and our plans for the day. Depending on the weather we make a game plan and head out. The weather pattern for the first few days looks a bit mild with the possibility of a good storm towards So Texas so off we went. 568 miles and ten hours later we arrived in Del Rio, TX to pouring rain and and incredible lightning storm. The problem is that shooting in a downpour guarantees rain drops on the front of our lenses so we took a dinner break and when we came out the rain had stopped and we could capture some of the storm as it moved off into the distance…

Nikon D800, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR...400 ISO f4 @ 2 sec

Photographing lightning is a piece of cake with the Lightning Trigger. I simply set my camera to Shutter Priority, select a shutter speed of 1/15 or slower, manual focus and sit back to enjoy the show while the camera and Lightning Trigger do all the work…

When the storm activity is minimal (or non-existent) we spend our days positioning to be in a good location for the chance of capturing storms and along the way we stop at old farms and work the weathered buildings.  One such farm had railroad boxcars as storage sheds.  I particularly liked the weathered wood doors and the colorful, rusted hinges so I converted the image to B&W Infrared using NIK Silver Efex 2 and painted the hinges back in…

Nikon D800, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR...200 ISO f8 @ 1/60

 

Stepping inside an abandoned house I often wonder about the occupants whose presence is felt in the items left behind.  Where did they go?  Why did they leave?  What is the story that this old building could tell if it could talk?  The light was almost gone but, I had to make this one last image.  I dialed up the ISO to 1600, opened the aperture to f5.6, braced myself and clicked off a 5 frame bracket.  To further emphasize the age of the kitchen, I converted the image to B&W and then used Color Efex Pro 4 Colorize to give the faded old photo look…

Nikon D800, AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR...1600 ISO f5.6 5 frame HDR

The weather pattern continues to show “good” weather over the net few days.  We will head towards Colorado to hopefully find some lightning storms to work.  Stay tuned.

 

Excellent Photo Adventures…So Texas Birds…Practice, Practice, Practice

I have been going to So Texas to photograph the birds for several  years now and each time I come home with new and wonderful images…some of birds I have photographed many times and others of those rare sightings of a less common bird.  No matter the subject, I am thrilled to be able to photograph over 40 species of birds in just a few days.  One image that I have tried to get over the last few years is that of a Scissor-tailed FLycatcher in flight.  They are fast and they don’t fly in an even path so panning with them is a real challenge…one that I was fortunate enough to overcome our last morning at the Caracara blind.  The Caracara was a no-show but the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher made up for it as it flew back and forth a couple of times.  Enough for me to get it’s rhythym and capture one sequence of nine frames in flight.  This is a perfect case in point for shooting continuous high and AF-C modes.  No way would I have been able to click the shutter just in time to capture the wings in perfect position let alone a series of shots with the wing in different positions.  I like the “scissor” tail in the wing down image…

 

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II, TC-20E III...800 ISO f5.6 @ 1/1500

 

and I like the colorful underwings and graceful position with the wings up…

 

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm f2.8 VR II, TC-20E III...800 ISO f5.6 @ 1/1500

 

Hi performance really counts in situations like this…both the equipment and the person behind the camera have to be on top of their game to capture the action!  I knew my D4 was up to it; happily, I was too.  In anticipation of action I dialed my IS0 to 800 with an aperture of f5.6 and EC of +1 dialed in (to brighten the bird against the light background) the shutter speed was around 1/1500.  I needed every bit of speed when the bird took flight.  It was halfway across the pond by the time I caught up with it and made these images.  Ya gotta love it when everything just works.   Stay tuned.