Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prairiestorm IMAGERY

Prairiestorm Media is dead. Sort of. I had been toying with dropping the 'media' tag for a while, and decided now that my actual main website had been fairly irrelevant for a while now it was a decent time to make the switch. The entire site was down for almost a month and only two people actually said anything about it to me, so I don't think anyone was missing it too much.

Anyway, PrairiestormImagery.Com it is! Everything else is essentially 100% the same. My content has been more atmospheric imagery based than anything media related for a while now, so the name needed tweaked. I made the push to be less associated with media chasers and focus more on creative ways to capture the sky that I love over the last year or two, so the change makes sense.

For what it's worth - I do need to credit my brother in all of this, Colin Davis, on the name change idea. I was struggling with what to actually change it to... Prairiestorm WHAT? Imagery was so obvious that it never even dawned on me. Luckily he's around for some of those common sense moments.

To celebrate the change, here are a couple photos from last week. I went out to time lapse what I figured would be a decent sunset, and wound up stalking a convective snow shower across the county during my favorite hour of twilight after the sun had set.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Aurora and afternoon time lapse

I started the afternoon driving around aimlessly looking for a place to test out my new intervalometer, so I can start time lapsing like an adult. I wound up driving to a new addition to the Mendota Hills wind farm, about 20 minutes away from DeKalb. The hard part about time lapsing with wind turbines is that it's hard to get the blades to not look ridiculous turning and twitching at weird rates. Since this is a new addition the turbines aren't active yet so they just glide in the wind. Unfortunately even with a specific times interval between shots they still managed to turn and glide at random intervals stopping and starting again.

At they very least it was cool to see the dramatic directional shear in the atmosphere that afternoon as the low level clouds streamed out of the northeast, with upper level clouds shooting from west to east.

Later that evening while hanging with some friends I happened to check facebook and see that Chris Allington was reporting visible aurora down to the Nebraska and South Dakota border. Up here in northern Illinois that isn't a whole lot further north. Actually now that I finally look at a map, that's pretty dead on as far as latitude is concerned. You see, this is exactly why I can't bring myself to give up facebook. I go through spurts of being tired of it and think that I don't actually need it, and should get rid of it altogether. But for random updates of cool things in the sky that I wouldn't otherwise be aware of at times like this, I just can't do it. You know what's even funnier about last night, is that I woke up in a really weird mood yesterday that I could only describe as violently strong cabin fever. I woke up and immediately needed to leave the house and this area altogether. I began brain storming where within a couple of hours driving I could go that would be a change of scenery. Around here, a couple hours of driving will generally put you somewhere that looks just like the place that you started out. I tossed around driving to Starved Rock and doing some time lapse down there... then I was very close to driving up to the cabin in Wisconsin and visiting the lake and just doing night time lapses up there. Had I done that I would have been in great position, and already been photographing when the aurora display appeared. Ah well.

By the time I was alerted, grabbed the cameras and headed back out, the display was down to a faint green band on the horizon.

Funny story while out waiting on the aurora to potentially flare back up by myself. I generally don't spook at all even while out in the middle of the night by myself. I'm not sure if I'm just used to it or not. Either way, I get out of my car and the power lines are making this eerie buzzing noise. I shrugged it off and got the camera out and started shooting anyway. Then I heard two packs of coyotes start yelping on either side of me, and then the farm dog that is barking at the farm about half a mile up the road starts growling and snarling as if spooked/attacked. I paused for a moment to listen to my surroundings, but ultimately decided to hold my ground and continue shooting. Anyway, I just figure if that didn't send me running back to the car then I'm pretty sure not a lot will.

Of course once I start heading off from that spot, what is obviously a local county deputy pulled in behind me and quickly pulled me over. I didn't have my wallet on me because I had run out of the house so quickly to take photos, and when I told him that he replied with "take photos??". I told him that yes, the aurora was visible earlier and that my camera was in my backseat if he wanted to check. What was funny was immediately after that he asked if I was going to school for meteorology here. Not entirely sure how he gathered that up.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reflections countdown... bat in CD's house

Last February I counted down the days until March 1st by posting one overlooked photo each day. Most in the weather community are aware by now that the world of storm chasing lost an amazing person on Saturday evening, when Andy Gabrielson was killed in a head on collision on the Oklahoma Turnpike. When I first read the text message informing me that he had been killed I had the initial moment of "no, that certainly can't be right." followed by a huge wave of sadness upon realizing that the dude really was gone, and how different things would be this spring. I began texting one of my closest friends in storm chasing, and really more of a brother, Colin Davis, about the situation. Ultimately, what the accident made me do was spend the rest of the night reflecting on all the great times I spent with my friends while on the chase. Every day really is a miracle, and you should take advantage of every moment that you get to spend with your loved ones.

I thought an interesting way to expand on the entire reflection idea was to actually go back and write about some of these more memorable moments. So, for every day until we finally hit March, I'll be posting a stupid little story that has stuck with me over the years. Essentially I'm telling you to enjoy reading three weeks worth of inside jokes.

On August 17 2004, I rode along with Colin Davis, Scott Kampas, and Dennis DeBourbon on a marginal day in NW Illinois. We were almost suckered into Iowa but held local and eventually chased a couple of supercells that produced decent lowerings but never came overly close to producing a tornado. After dark, more thunderstorms began popping up so once we returned to Colin's place in Canton we got the cameras back out to film the light show. We were informed upon heading into the house that a bat had entered the place. This was the second bat in a week for them, actually. I of course, got the camera back out and began filming the bat swooping around the kitchen before it bolted for the doorway I was standing in and put me on my back. Colin was standing in the next doorway and had the bat swoop around him a couple of times before flying up the stairs to the second floor.

After crouching on the floor with the bat flying laps for another minute or so the bat finally flew into the bathroom where Colin was able to trap it. One of my all-time favorite dialogue exchanges happens now between Colin and Denny. Dennis was rambling about needing to come up with a plan and that we were just moving it around the house. He began telling us to get a battle plan or let us play with it all night, and then replied with "because I don't like bats" when asked why he doesn't help with the plan. Colin then mumbles something else back about him just letting us work on it, before getting "Oh yeah, sounds like you've got a great plan" from Denny, to which he replies "Oh yeah, better than yours, 'I don't like bats!'" I wish I had the video available on a format where I could throw it online or something, because I know the 'you had to be there' aspect of the story doesn't help, and me conveying it thru text isn't helping any.

Eventually, we were able to get the bathroom window open and coaxed it to fly out while I filmed from behind the toilet.

Anyway, I can already tell that this idea is going to be a lot of me laughing as I type old stories, while you decide to stop reading this blog until I get back to posting legitimate storm chasing posts.