The Chase, Chapter One
I used to dread the Monsoon season when I first moved to Arizona from Long Island, NY. I had accepted to photograph weddings in the blazing heat and building humidity of the Phoenix monsoon. I could barely keep the burning perspiration out of my eyes. There was not enough water available that I could drink to rehydrate my body. Those days came to an abrupt halt as I would not photograph weddings or portraits during the monsoon season. There was not enough money on earth to tempt me to accept photographing.
I see today’s monsoon season very differently. Watching and waiting to see where the monsoonal storms will pop up, I plan the day around where the storms could generate and then throughout the day, I watch the pattern of the growing storm cells. So starts the chase. Where is often the hardest thing to pinpoint. These storms are living and breathing, moving where they want to. The sad part that I have been dealing with in the early part of the chase season has been that as soon as I arrive at a location, I get the treat of the last blast and then it collapses. I was starting to think that this could be the “Year of the Collapse” in the “Chase” religion!
Chasing requires that you select where you think things will hit and then go hunting! Stalking more accurately. I wait, look, find the best light, see the approach, select a vantage point, then sit and be patient. I bagged my prey last night. It is funny, the one thing that you need to understand about chasing is that the chasing requires that you move, and well, CHASE! There are those who enjoy a nice visit if some friendly storm comes to visit your neighborhood. It may drop a few gems here and there. It can be generous at times but it seems to be like an old adage, you get out of it what you invest in to it. Others have said it better. Let me share without sounding too much like a Televangelist, a few quotes that made sense to me. Maybe it comes from my relationship with good friends in the Amish community;
“What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we shall reap in the harvest of action.” said Meister Eckhart.
Scott Reed said, “You must give to get, You must sow the seed, before you can reap the harvest.”
Whichever way it is said, it has to make you think, if I invest in myself by planning and following, my efforts will (hopefully) prove fruitful!
I will share a quick Chase story from the other night. My buddy Ron Pelton Jr. and I chose to chase north as the valley looked like it would be quiet. We chased and boy o boy did we chase! ! That storm wasn’t going to go down without us figuring the conditions out, finding the direction and “heading her off at the pass!” Well, that took hours to do as the road systems are an integral part of a chase! Just because we want to get from here to there, doesn’t necessarily mean that the road system goes directly there! We did get there, finally.
Here is a sample of the take from that night:
We had covered hundreds of miles to get these. It was a fun day. Remember that someone (who I bet to be a Harley Davidson owner) once said, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey!” Well, let me remind you, sometimes it surely (and Please don’t call me Shirley! for those Leslie Nielsen fans) is the destination! At the end of hours of work, it is sweet to see an image that lights up your eye! Well, these two images put a smile on our faces but we were certainly after bigger fish so to speak!
Now I can return you to my chase story of last night. like all of you from the valley, we knew something was going to pop, and boy did it pop! I chose to head to the eat, well, far east valley as that was the spot that looked best to my as a place to chase. As I got to where I thought I would intercept the approaching storm, it cracked a huge bolt right in the middle of my cloud that called my name as I drove down I-10. I set up and waited but that ole “Storm God” was not going to be so rewarding so early in the chase! ! I dashed after investing some time into a killer shot only to come up short. Now I was on the beat of a bigger cell. It looked great. By the time I got near it it went SEVERE! AWESOME! Severe was here! The only issue with being under a cell when it goes severe is that you may not be able to open the window or door as the deluge that accompanies it is remarkable! As soon as I could, I drove around the slow mover and got to a good place. Well, as the past few chases have all provided, as I got to that position where I could capture something, the darn thing fizzled, right in front of me! STOP THAT! I’m not finding it funny.
The good thing that came from the chase was that, even though it was dark out, with every bolt that hit and lit up the clouds, it revealed a few foregrounds. Now, as the new storm neared, I was in position and waited for her to roll on in. She did just that, bringing light and life ahead of the drenching rains that would quickly follow up the amazing light show!
Here are a few portraits of the storm from last night!
I need to remind those of you that might be interested in learning how to capture Lightning imagery, I am accepting reservations for my next “Lightning and Monsoon Workshop, August 9-12, 2013 here in the Phoenix area. I will be teaching on this workshop! It is not just a tour but the how’s and why’s of the chase! How to anticipate where to go, what to look for in a storm, how to get to the right place, exposure determinations, composition, and even learning to post process your new collection of images. This will be a very informative workshop! A bonus for those who register to attend is that you will each be working with a brand new “Lightning Trigger” (http://www.lightningtrigger.com) for our time together to help you capture these fleeting moments! I will get you up to speed on how to use it and then teach you what goes into coming back with impressive images! I hope that you can join us. I have a couple of spots left! Don’t get shut out of this awesome experience!
Details are here on my blog!
There will be many chapters to the “Chase“. I hope that you will keep an eye on the blog to catch them all!
Tags: lightning, storm chasing