I have just made the most spectacular photo (above) and an additional shot available in my online photo gallery for print orders. Both are available in various formats, including canvas, metal and fine art prints.
I have a lot of interests. Storm chasing is high on the list. So are writing and photography. And one of the subjects I get to pursue as a photographer living on Florida’s Space Coast has to do with the sky, but not so much to do with storms: launch photography.You can catch some of my launch photos in a show opening at Rocket City Retro this weekend. The reception starts at 7 p.m. Saturday night at this mid-century-modern furniture and design hub in Cocoa, Florida. You’ll also see a whimsical piece, with a silver finish on aluminum, that I call “We Will Use You For Parts” (above). The toys come from my collection of wind-ups.
And it’s not all about me! Several fantastic artists are featured at the event. (See the details at Brevard Culture.)
I have some old launch photos on my quaintly HTML Sky Diary storm chasing site, but this show will feature some newer ones, including “Spaceport U.S.A.,” shot at Port Canaveral and presented on aluminum. I’m a freelancer now, but I covered space for about four years for Florida Today, and I still get jazzed about a launch.
Come on out to the show and say hi! If you can’t make the party Saturday, the art will hang through the end of April.
What: “Rockets and Robots” art show opening
Where: Rocket City Retro, 116 Forrest Ave., Cocoa, Florida
When: 7-10 p.m. Saturday, March 19
Bonus: Cash bar with craft cocktails by the Straw Hat Barmen
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.
I always want to be better, and I am never satisfied that I’m where I should be in anything, especially in my passions – photography and writing. Storm photography, especially, always leaves room for improvement.
If the photo in itself is great, it might have been shot from a better angle, at a different time, or on a different storm. Because in storm chasing, the first rule is location, location, location. The second is timing. You can be a technically great photographer (I’m still working on that, too) and never be a great storm photographer if you can’t get into the right place at the right time.
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’ve put some of my favorite weather photos of 2013 into a video slide show. Watch it here, or if you like, see the photos themselves.
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.
This year was a year of subtleties for me when it came to storm and sky photography. A late storm-chasing season meant less time in Tornado Alley than I would have liked. I saw only one “good” tornado, and my video of it was better than my stills. Lightning wasn’t so great this summer in Florida, either. But I still managed to see a variety of atmospheric spectacles, and I’ve put together several photos in a slide show that looks back on the year. You can find it here.
I recently took a week to visit family and shoot portrait sessions in Pennsylvania. A wonderful bonus was a road trip through west-central Pennsylvania in quest of covered bridges, many of which I saw in Somerset County. It’s funny, the romantic notions we have of covered bridges, but this was no Bridges of Somerset County romance novel. Many of the bridges are no longer in regular use; they sit parallel to the main road’s bridges, or are even blocked off in historical parks. But with a little imagination, you can frame them nicely and transport yourself in time. So much of photography is illusion – or call it artistic choice, if you like. I chose to go for a saturated look that brought out the middling fall colors. I love catching the flashy foliage as the trees throw their annual party before going to sleep for the winter, as much as I love coming home to the perpetual green of Florida.
I also took a few shots of a sunflower field in Lancaster County – home of so many Amish buggies, rolling farms, and fruit stands overflowing with pumpkins. Sunflowers always make me think of Kansas, now that storm chasing is in my blood. Seeing them in full bloom in Kansas is something I haven’t yet experienced, since I live in Florida; that’s a trip I look forward to. See more covered bridges and sunflowers here.
It’s so nice to get back into nature and do a little shooting for pleasure. At Viera Wetlands on Thursday, I used my still camera as well as a new video camera I’m trying out to capture a few images of the birds and alligators that flock to this area in our Florida “winter.” I was especially amused by a cranky great blue heron who wouldn’t let another heron anywhere near a nest, from which babies occasionally poked their fuzzy heads.
See the photo gallery, or check out a short video, below. Make sure you choose 720HD from the settings menu on the video (the gear- or flower-shaped symbol) to get the best quality.