Posts

Stormchasing: A backlit Nebraska storm

Of all the things I saw during my trip to Nebraska to chase around some storms, this scene was one of the best. I don’t even know if the HDR processing can convey what it looked like in person, but it was breathtaking. The sun back-lighting the falling rain, the scud clouds moving quickly along the surface…the dirt road running into the distance…the grass was blowing, the clouds churning…it was a sight to behold.

Myself and another stormchaser were just standing here, talking, looking in awe and snapping photos. A good guy too, from the town of Ogalalla where I shot the feed mill photo posted yesterday. Love the people in Nebraska, just good, kind folk.

Technically this was just a hand-held, 3-bracket HDR using Photomatix, CS5, Imagenomic and Topaz.

Stormy skies in northern Arizona

This photo is from a few weeks ago on my trip to see the Grand Falls in northern Arizona. The clouds were stormy, but not really dropping a ton of rain…like these in the shot. Mostly virga, but still awesome to see. The skies were amazing that day and I had to stop every few minutes to snap another photo. Helped that I was on a 10-mile dirt road going only 25 mph.

This is panoramic made up of two, 3-bracket HDR photos stitched together in Photoshop. The clouds were so tall and spreading, I almost needed a third shot to get the tops.

Completely enjoyed my time up there that day…the weather was superb, the skies were amazing…the country was so interesting and new to me…hope to visit there sometime again!

Stormchasing: More stormy skies

This is another photo from the Nebraska plains near the town of Mullen. The shot has an interesting feel to it, partly because of the HDR processing, but also the motion in the tall grasses.

Before this big stormchasing adventure, I hadn’t planned on doing much HDR photography because I figured when you were up close to this stuff, the high winds would really be a disadvantage to taking multiple exposures in rapid succession. Even doing them quickly can’t keep up with 40-50mph winds and clouds that seem to be only hundreds of feet above your head.

Photomatix is pretty good about eliminating ghosting from the movement of objects and stuff across multiple exposures, but I just felt it might be too hard to do here. I think I was wrong about that, hence the reason my series has changed to HDR for my last few posts.

Because of the blur caused by the motion in the grass and the rapidly moving clouds, this picture almost seems like a painting to me. Either way, it’s just another shot from my fun adventure out in Nebraska. Can’t imagine what next year will be like when I chase for 4-5 days.

Stormchasing: Trees and Fences

Still running through my photos from my stormchasing trip to Nebraska on Saturday (plus photos from things other than storms, can’t wait to post a few of those later on), so wanted to dump a few more on you.

I do so love trees, especially isolated ones in the middle of nowhere. The photo above has a little baby tree, some cattle off on the right side of the frame and a giant cloud crossing the sky. It was an ominous scene.

Read more

Stormchasing: Wall clouds and inflows from Nebraska

A few more shots from my trip to Nebraska. I have to say, without having seen most of the state, the parts I did get to journey through were beautiful. Rolling hills, scattered trees…green farmlands, reservoirs, old towns, old buildings…it was just a perfect place to travel through.

The above photo is of the wall cloud I saw, which is the first in my life. You can see the lowering in the middle of the frame. I was hoping soooo badly it would just drop a tornado, but no such luck.

The one below is of the same storm a little later. I think what I’m seeing in this shot on the right inflow into the supercell. The white, smooth arcing cloud is out in front of the wall cloud on the left…so I’m pretty sure it was the inflow area.

Stormchasing: A couple of more shots from Nebraska

One of my main goals when it comes to stormchasing, whether I take a big trip to Nebraska to do it or drive around finding the monsoons here in Arizona this summer, is to take photos that are as well composed as I can make them in whatever situation I find myself.

I love looking at stormchasers’ photos from the midwest…tornadoes, lightning, wall clouds, scary stuff…but aside from a few guys that take their time when shooting (Dick McGowan, Mike Hollingshead), most of them are hurried shots without much thought of framing a nice scene.

My stormchasing experience is very lacking, so I don’t have a lot of room to talk, but I tried my best to achieve my goal when snapping these shots on Saturday. It’s not always easy I find, because sometimes the monster cloud is hovering over a highway and there is a car in the way and two other guys with cameras taking pictures of it as well!

I was a little disappointed with what I ended up seeing overall…I saw some amazing stuff, captured it as best I could, but I just failed to see that monster supercell isolated by itself with amazing structure going on.  Obviously I only had one day, so I’m not being too hard on myself, PLUS it was a heck of a fun time…I just hope to one day get another crack at shooting this stuff.

Stormchasing: Hail core dump

I had planned a 4-day stormchasing extravaganza this spring, but the way things worked out, it ended up being a one-day blitzkrieg on Saturday up to Nebraska to photograph whatever I could in a short amount of time.

Part of me wishes I lived around this weather so I could photograph it more often…and the other side of me, after seeing the craziness of the clouds and weather…am just fine living in Arizona *grin*

This is one of the shots from the day. A hail core being dumped north of Mullen, Nebraska. It had multiple tornadic signatures on it, but we never saw a funnel.

More to come!

Sunset on the ol’ railroad tracks

I’ve taken quite a few photographs from this spot over the last 6 months. It’s amazing to think it’s only about 2 miles from my house (for now, until we move). I rarely try to dip from the same well more than once, but this place is fond to me. And I do try to go there for different reasons when I do.

And as far as I know, they are rarely, if ever, used because I’ve stood there for a long time and never have seen a train.

Last night we had some rainy-ish looking clouds roll through and while there appeared to be stuff falling from them, it seems to be only virga that never hit the ground.

The lines of the rails never goes in the direction of the setting sun, so I sat there praying the virga would be ignited by the final gasps of sunlight, and while I wasn’t completely disappointed, it definitely didn’t pop the way I’d hoped.

Click on the photo for a larger view.

Technobabble: Two, 3-bracket HDRs merged in photoshop.

Storms rolling across the Arizona desert

This morning I woke up, looked outside and saw fluffy clouds. The photographer switch inside of me was instantly ignited and I left the house after a few minutes.

We just haven’t seen any weather in weeks and weeks…for a guy like me, that’s an eternity! It didn’t even look that spectacular out there, and in fact, the clouds you see above were the stormiest of anything and they didn’t even drop any rain.

This picture almost didn’t happen. In fact, most of my best shots end up being unplanned.  I had been shooting the clouds, the sky and some rays of the sun shining through. As I was leaving, I noticed this dead log just a few feet from where I had been standing. How on earth did I miss it before???

Anyways, I ran up and snapped this photo.  Love the sky framed with the foreground. I also love the golden field in the distance…which was green just a few weeks ago. You can already see dead tumbleweed next to this log. That tire hanging off the branch just adds an interesting element.

I shied away from HDR on this one and instead just went with an exposure blend.

Foggy day in Corvallis, Oregon

Yesterday I picked up a roll of film I had lying around from a long time ago. Now it wasn’t a “photography” roll of film, I really have only been doing this hobby seriously for less than a year now, it was just some pictures my wife and I must have taken over 5 years ago. But I had no idea how long.

Well, when I got them back, I found out it was almost 10 years old. A very long time ago, we looked like kids, lived in our apartment and most of them were just silly photos. But it made me think about old shots that I hadn’t ever posted or forgot about in the hustle of processing photos.

These two photos are three bracketed, hand-held HDR shots from my business trip to Corvallis, Oregon. This was a very tough shot for me, because the city was essentially all around this place, even though you may not be able to tell by looking. I had to squat low enough so the hill blocked some houses, and just to the left is a very busy highway.

But I couldn’t pass up the cloudy skies and the low-flowing fog floating across the valley between the hills.

I can’t decide which I like better, the color or the black/white, so I’ll leave it up to you.

Oh, and I’m trying out a new watermark on my photos…something subdued, maybe more professional looking. Curious what people think of that as well.