There’s a swans’ nest in nearby Viera, Florida, that has had spectators gawking for weeks. Its enormous size and spectacular and doting parents were plenty of attraction, until the baby swans were hatched on Friday.
Swans mate for life, barring disaster, and these parents seemed at least as devoted as all the fans crowding around the bank of the retention pond with their cameras and cell phones. Of course, one idiot drove by today screaming “F*** swans,” but there’s no accounting for poor taste. The swans were tolerant of their fan club, though one informed participant warned us that they have teeth in those elegant beaks, and a bite can be quite painful.
As you might guess, the three-day-old cygnets are adorable. Still, their neighbor, a great blue heron, was not impressed.
Late last March, I got to chase a great squall line event, too. These kinds of Florida storms are good warm-ups for my Tornado Alley trip, when I get to learn all over again how to juggle cameras, radar, navigation and driving while trying to capture the storms of the Great Plains. I expect to head out in May and will be posting regular updates. I’m happy to note that I’m again among several storm chasers with whom Midland is partnering to show off the capabilities of its cameras. New this year is the XTC-400 HD Wearable Video Camera. I’m looking forward to trying it out, hopefully on a mothership supercell! Wide-angle lenses do amazing things to mothership supercells.
In 2013, I saw a lot of extreme weather, most of it packed into less than three weeks during my annual whirlwind tour of Tornado Alley. Yet I still curse myself for not being in better position on some of the storms I saw and for missing others. Such is always the way of the perfectionist; that drive is a blessing and a curse, since perfection is never possible, except, perhaps, in the sweeping curves of a supercell at sunset. I’ll leave perfection to nature and post my imperfections right here.
I have several events coming up, and I hope you can join me to talk about storms and books!
On Sunday, Nov. 10, I’ll sign books at a party marking the launch of a new storm photography exhibit. It will include photos from this year’s chaotic storm season. The party is 2-5 p.m. at Rocket City Retro Mid-Century Modern Furniture & Design, 331 King St., in Cocoa Village. The free event will feature wine, hors d’oeuvres and storm videos in addition to photography of tornadoes, lightning and severe weather, displayed amid Rocket City Retro’s stylish furnishings and gifts from the 1950s to the 1970s. My photos will be on display through Nov. 30.
I’ll also be at the Meet the Authors Book Fair Nov. 23-24 at Eau Gallie Civic Center, which happens in conjunction with ArtWorks. I’ll be signing “Funnel Vision” and “Tornado Pinball,” the first two storm-chasing adventures in the Storm Seekers Series.
Also catch my storm photography Dec. 2-31 at the Cocoa Beach Library, 550 N. Brevard Ave. In a free library talk on Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m., I will discuss what it takes to shoot great storm and lightning photos, drawing on 17 years of experience chasing storms in Tornado Alley and Florida. And I’ll sign books, in case you haven’t picked up yours yet.
See you out there!
The blue moon – the full moon on August 20 – was a magical photographic opportunity for me. I was able to shoot a lightning storm with the full moon overhead, from the beautiful vantage point of Cocoa, Florida, looking east over the Indian River Lagoon. I’ve photographed not-so-great shots of the moon with a thunderstorm before, but nothing like this. Better yet, there were multiple shots, though the one shown here is definitely my favorite.
When I’m on the road during my annual storm-chasing trip in May, I try to post as many reports as I can here and on my Sky Diary site. But thousands of miles of driving and serious sleep deprivation often mean that I skip days and have to finish the reports when I get home – especially for the less momentous chases. This week, I finished up those reports in between Florida storms.
The report I posted today is from May 27, the same day Sean Casey got caught in a tornado with his home-brewed tank. The tornadoes were pretty messy that day, and my friends and I took our chances on more isolated storms in central Kansas that didn’t produce more than pretty structure, lightning and lovely light at sunset. If you’ve ever wondered how a typical chase evolves, my video captures the process pretty well. (By “typical,” I mean a chase with no tornadoes – because not every chase ends with a tornado!) See the page with my May 27 photos and video, or watch the video here:
I also posted an “odds and ends” report consisting of select photos from minor storm days and busts, along with pictures of people, sights and more. With it, I included a video of a dust devil chase on May 22 in the Texas Panhandle. It documents a direct hit. I definitely had dust in my teeth afterward. See the page with all the photos and video, or watch the video here:
See all the 2013 storm reports in this index – as I photograph Florida storms, I’ll add more photos and videos.
With the reports done, I’m looking forward to having more time to invest in writing “Zap Bang” – the upcoming third novel in the Storm Seekers Series.
The beaches have been under siege here in Brevard County for the past couple of days as ominous shelf clouds have swept over the sun-worshipers and surfers, harbingers of downpours and lightning close behind. I’ve caught photos in the past couple of days at Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach. In both places, some folks didn’t seem to be in a hurry to escape the lightning danger, which was high. I take a risk, too, when I stand on the beach to shoot a photo, and I’m well aware of it.
Still need a beach read for this summer? My storm-chasing adventures, “Funnel Vision” and “Tornado Pinball,” are just $2.99 as e-books. They’re also in paperback. Check em out. (You can quite literally check them out of the Brevard libraries, too.)
I was lucky to get invited to an Independence Day party on a top floor of a condo overlooking the Indian River Lagoon and Cocoa, Florida’s excellent fireworks display on Thursday. Shooting fireworks is a lot like shooting lightning – you need a tripod and a camera you can put in manual mode so you can hold the shutter open for several seconds. But at least you know approximately where the fireworks are going to be.
Want to see more? Here’s a slide show. Prints are available.
One of the most impressive storms of my Tornado Alley chase didn’t produce a tornado, though it was tornado-warned. That’s because it was spinning like a top. The May 26, 2013, supercell near Arcadia, Nebraska, was LP, or low-precipitation – not much rain, but amazing structure. It also had one of the best lightning shows I’ve ever seen.I’ve already posted photos, but now I’ve added video to the report. Or you can watch the video above.
I’m easing back into life in Florida, where we’re getting a fair share of thunderstorms, at least for the moment. I look for lightning in the evening, and I caught some last night at Port Canaveral. Here’s a sample, but you can check out all the photos from June 18 here.