Musings Of A Fellow Adventurer…Storm Chase


My name is Don Loken and I am very happily retired.  Most of my working life was in technology starting in the information technology world in the 1970’s.  I have been interested in photography since my 9th grade General Science teacher helped me build, take and develop photographs with a “pin hole” camera.  I was bitten by the bug and tried to learn every technical piece of information I could grab on to, (figuring it was a science not an art).  When I retired about 6 years ago I went to workshop where Laurie was one of the instructors.  At that time I thought I knew a lot about photography. After 3 days I found out that I new nothing. Of course I new the “techie” stuff  and how it worked but realized I had no clue how to use it to create something other than a snap shot with very expensive equipment.  I knew I needed to shoot more and attend more workshops and over the last few years I have worked with Laurie on 7 different occasions.

I was drawn to Laurie because of her style of creating artistic images that are not just technically correct but speak to you in a uniquely pleasant way.  That is what I knew that I wanted.  I have always had an artistic side but no real way of expressing it – I can’t paint or draw and my violin playing days were over a long time ago. (No it didn’t stay with me).  This is my fourth “Excellent Adventure” with Laurie.  Once to Churchill to photograph Polar Bears and three times storm chasing; something I have come to look forward to each spring.  The draw of Storm chasing is watching and recording Mother Nature at her most beautiful and “gnarliest”.  It’s called storm chasing not tornado chasing since very few thunderstorms spawn tornadoes – they do make a nice bonus though.  The chase covers many miles each day and there are occasional “artsy” stops to photograph “ghost towns”, old cars, bottles cans; you name it we photograph it .

This year looked to be a very difficult year for finding storms so we started out on the artsy side and stopped at several “ghost towns” for a little fine art grunge.  The window and shutter were taken near Clayton NM there were several other subjects there, but this is my favorite because of the colors, the small rip in the screening and the “picture in a picture” reflected on the fabric behind the screen…

Nikon D3, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR...200 ISO f9.5 @ 1/500


The next two images were taken in a small New Mexico town of Folsom..

Nikon D3, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR...200 ISO f5 @ 1/350


Nikon D3, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR...200 ISO f6.7 @ 1/60


We had some sort of metrological activity almost every day between the “artsy” stuff.  Lightening  and beautiful structure near Rexford Kansas…

Nikon D3, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR...200 ISO f11 @ 1/20


Nikon D3, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR...200 ISO f11 @ 1/30


Beautiful mammatus clouds near Great Bend Kansas…

Nikon D3, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR...200 ISO f4 @ 1/1000


And of course tornados in Kansas.  The little rope tornado was near Varner Kansas…

Nikon D3, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR...200 ISO f5.6 @ 1/90


This larger tornado was on the ground for about 16 minutes. Unfortunately from where we were view the tornado there was little contrast, but we were still able to make some decent images.  The image that looks like a second funnel is actually a rain shaft…

Nikon D3, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR...200 ISO f5.6 @ 1/90


The final treat was being able to view and photograph the partial solar eclipse from our viewpoint near Gutherie Texas…

Nikon D3, AF-S 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR...200 ISO f11 @ 1/125


So it may be called Storm Chasing, but there seem always be other photo opportunities and every season brings something different making this one of the most exciting “Excellent Adventures”.  I would like to thank my fellow chasers JoAnn and Craig and of course Laurie who orchestrates this entire trip and make our lives much simpler.  I also want to thank Tank and Brian for finding and getting us on the storm in such a was that we have the best photo opportunity possible.