Sunday, July 18, 2010

Today's Prize and Tomorrow's Crap Forecast

As expected, I was treated to an amazing display around the sunset hours tonight. I time lapsed a storm from towering cu to mature storm to post-sunset electrified updraft tower. The thing was surging and dying for over two hours, and I thought it was done for at sunset. However, in the twilight hour another updraft surged up and soon became absolutely electrified. The time lapse should be amazing, but I may save it for the DVD. This year's DVD, which again I was thinking about not making, will probably end up 60/40 for artsy fartsy time lapse type stuff to actual live chase footage. Scott Weberpal briefly mentioned in a conversation he and I quickly had this evening that there is no real appreciation for the creative side of storm chasing and weather observing anymore. I agreed, and added that it seems all anyone does to be a storm chaser is buy tons of data and a cheapo digital camera and take the quickest, most poorly composed images possible and upload them to their local forum or social networking site ASAP. If that's kosher for you, so be it. I grew up watching the beautiful structure / tornado video and time lapse masterpieces by those who started it all, and to that I try to stay true.

I don't chase for the money or the adrenaline. I don't chase for the publicity I may get on a forum or social site by uploading my crappy images before I even stop to pee after a chase or streaming the second I leave the front door. There are any number of reasons I don't chase, but there's only one real reason that I do chase, and that reason is the beautiful scenes that I am treated to day in and day out on the open road. I chase to be all alone in the middle of a soybean field being swarmed by mosquitoes as the sun disappears while a thunderstorm updraft tower erupts with lightning in front of me. Growing up I had a passion for tornadoes and thunderstorms, and I also had a passion for photography. I was a walking waste of film as a kid. Now that I'm living the dream as a storm chaser, my goal at the end of the day is not to score a live phoner with The Weather Channel, but to attempt to capture even half the beauty that stands in front of me every day that I spend in a thunderstorm's presence in one moment captured in time, be it a still photo, action packed video or a peaceful time lapse. While the aforementioned reasons or outcomes are all valid, it's not the dream I saw for myself as a tornado obsessed 3 year old, and it's not the dream I set out for today.

Wow, this is getting really lovey dovey towards mother nature. Point is... I really appreciate those that actually take half a second to compose a photograph or shoot well composed video. If that's not your cup of tea, and not why you chase, or how you choose to appreciate mother nature, that's awesome - but if you won't take half a second to capture the beauty in front of you, I won't take half a second to look your direction. Each year, that's what I try to get more and more in touch with when I produce my DVD. I have more tornado footage than 2009, but less than 2008, but think this could be the best weather DVD I'll produce yet and I've yet to really begin plotting it out.

Tomorrow's forecast looks bleak. Early morning storms will likely ruin the day for these parts. If things can hold off late enough in the day we'll talk. Monday looks decent, but I'll be spending the evening at Wrigley Field watching my loser Chicago Cubs play. Tuesday... well, we'll get to Tuesday another time.

A couple images from tonight:


Dann Cianca said...

Great shots... and I agree with a lot of what you said. My goal when going out is to document what I see to the best of my ability. This year I upgraded to a nicer HD video camera but I have far from mastered videography. I still chase with a point-and-shoot Canon for still images and, though it is a nicer and more versatile point-and-shoot, I definitely feel its limitations. I wish I had more money for a nicer camera or a laptop or a nice HAM setup or a better vehicle, but I don't... so I chase with what I have, choosing to spend my monies on gas so I can chase more.

There's something to be said of going out and trying to actually capture what you're seeing, the way it was mean to be seen... well at least as close as a picture an come. And you do a freaking great job of that, man.


Unknown said...

Excellent! I've been trying to get a shot like that for years! Congrats!!!!

Andrew Pritchard said...

Thanks Bill and Dann.

Dann- there's nothing wrong with a point and shoot camera (especially a Canon!) as that's what I was chasing with until late 2007.

You certainly were not someone that should ever come to mind when thinking of "half-assers" out there. I mean hell, I would kill for that shot on your blog's top banner!


Dann Cianca said...

This seems like it has been a frustrating year for a lot of people... especially "veterans". Oh the times, they are a changin'.

Andrew Pritchard said...

Definitely frustrating on my end, simply because every insane day was either 5 states away from Illinois, or on a day that I just couldn't do. June 5th and 17th are on me though, because I botched execution on one, and blew off the second day for sleep (which in fairness to me, was badly needed sleep!)

I had an average year tornado/supercell wise, but it's been a very fun year "creativity" wise, as far as photography and time lapse ops.

You need to pump out a DVD some day, Dann.

Dann Cianca said...

Hey, you know, we can't all have our folks paying for our entire storm chasing adventures, *cough* AG *cough*. Lol I'm truly envious of that position for sure.

As for the DVD... I know, man... now that I'm unemployed, I have TIME to work on it, but my computer is no good when it comes to doing HD. Bah.

Andrew Pritchard said...

Yeah, what so many of us could see if we didn't have to think "Is it really worth it on my wallet to drive 1500 miles for just this ONE day?".

I shoot in HD, but I haven't bothered rendering my video in HD for whatever reason yet. Didn't feel like the challenge, so I still produce everything in standard def.