Weather Wednesday: Boredom and Excitement

Ricky Rainbow

Great shot by Ricky Forbes!

Hey Everyone!  I’ve been pretty quiet on the weather posts lately as it’s been SOOO incredibly boring up here.  We’ve had a few cracks of thunder and a bit of lightning but, for a storm-enthusiast, it’s getting pretty frustrating.  I think I’m going through storm withdrawal.  Is that a thing?  Storm depression?  Anyhow, though the storms are non-existent up here there are still some great chasers to watch in parts of Canada and the US.  I’m surviving on live stream footage right now.  Ugh.  I sure hope that with all this heat, we see something!  Okay, there’s the boredom part of this post.  Now… on to the excitement.

You’ve heard me talk about them before (and you’ll hear it again), but one of my favourite local chase teams is doing something really exciting!  No, they aren’t taking me out chasing, this is something for everyone!

Team Tornado Hunter are doing a show on CMT!  I got to preview the trailer yesterday and it looks like it’s going to be awesome!!  Check out the trailer here:

This is my second year watching these guys chase and I love it.  Not only do they keep the hours of driving entertaining with their banter, insults and chatting with those of us watching the live feed, they also deliver quality and exciting chase moments.  We had a stormy day here this summer, sadly not near me, and it looked like the guys were out of position.  They were commenting on how it might be a bust day, but then decided to check out a cell that had just appeared on radar.

The chase was on and those of us who were watching settled in for what we hoped would be an amazing show.  Well, we sure weren’t disappointed!  Soon the lightning began, the rain came and suddenly we were hearing ‘Do you hear that?’ as Greg spoke to the guys.  The pulse-pounding, adrenalin-filled moments came when the live feed became intermittent (storms are really good at killing reception) and we were only able to get glimpses of the action.  Rain pounding horizontally across the road, debris blowing, Ricky taking the truck into a ditch as the storm got really intense.  Nothing like spotty data reception to make your watchers want to pull their hair out.  The night ended in the guys stuck in a farmers field, having gotten off track.  At 2 am, those of us still watching began sending out messages to anyone and everyone who might be in the area to get the guys out.  I debated hopping in our 4×4 Blazer and driving out to see what I could do.  They were about 3 hours away at the time and I figured they’d be well out by the time I got there.  It was an awesome day to watch!

Here’s the video of this chase with a surprise that we didn’t get to see on the live feed:

If they have data reception in the area they are chasing, these are the guys to watch!

I’m so excited to see their new series and I know it will be a blast to watch!  Make sure to mark August 18th on your calender and see these guys in action on CMT!

Greg RFD RickyChris Chittick

Are you looking forward to seeing ‘Tornado Hunters’?  

Here’s the link to ‘Tornado Hunters’ on CMT!

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Greg Johnson!  Have a great day, Greg.

~Sarah

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Weather Wednesday

It’s cold.  Not Antarctic cold, but it’s cold here.  We were sitting at -43*C here on Monday.  It’s cold.  I hate the cold.  I despised the cold before, but now I despise it more.  I can’t wait for winter to be over.  Can’t.  Wait.

Especially as my storm chaser friends start posting storm pictures from previous years.  ARGH!  I just want to get out there and see some amazing storms!

Sure, there are a ton of things that are awesome about summer. (not including the mosquitoes…)  I love the warm breeze, the sound of kids playing outside, the hint of the flowers on the air.  It’s just so much better than all of this ridiculousness that comes along with winter.  Plus….

THE STORMS!!

storm30

Photo by Greg Johnson (http://www.tornadohunter.com/)

Look at that!!  Isn’t it amazing!!

Yes, I know that some storms are so powerful that they devastate communities, cities, crops and people.  This is the one thing that I don’t like about storms.  I don’t like that people and their lives get caught up in these powerful storms.  That’s why I really like so many of these storm chasers out there who are trying to learn more and increase warning chance for you and I.

Anyhow, you’ve already heard me talk about a lot of them.  (And I will continue to!)  Today I just want to post a few of my favourite storm images, because I just really like looking at them.  🙂

Beautiful SK storm by Andrea Clarke (https://www.facebook.com/2CPhotographyandreaclarke)

Beautiful SK storm by Andrea Clarke (https://www.facebook.com/2CPhotographyandreaclarke)

EF-4 at Great Bend, Kansas ~ Photo by Greg Johnson (http://www.tornadohunter.com/)

EF-4 at Great Bend, Kansas ~ Photo by Greg Johnson (http://www.tornadohunter.com/)

Amazing storm structure from Craig Hilts (http://www.prairiefirephoto.com/)

Amazing storm structure from Craig Hilts (http://www.prairiefirephoto.com/)

Storm barn july 24-13

Photo by Greg Johnson (http://www.tornadohunter.com/)

Amazing tornado shot outside of MooseJaw, SK, Canada by Craig Hilts (http://www.prairiefirephoto.com/)

Amazing tornado shot outside of Moose Jaw, SK, Canada by Craig Hilts (http://www.prairiefirephoto.com/)

SK storm Craig Boehm

Awesome photo by Craig Boehm (https://twitter.com/Skstormchaser)

Here are the links to the sites for these awesome photographers!

Greg Johnson

Craig Hilts

Andrea Clarke

Craig Boehm

How about you?  Eager for storm season?  Dreaming of chasing?  Have a favourite storm photo/photographer?  I’d love to see them!!

~Sarah

Weather Wednesday

Storm july 22-13While this storm didn’t produce much in the way of thunder, lighting or even rain… it sure looked awesome!  I love the structure of this storm.  The bright clouds and the dark horizon.  Gorgeous!  Missing summer storms.  Roll on storm season 2014.  (Summer storms, not winter storms!)

Chat with Craig Hilts of Prairie Fire Photography: Part Two

craig storm2Seriously, isn’t this photo awesome?!  I love how the cloud is lit from above.  Amazing!  I wish I had seen this one in person!  

Let’s get back to my chat with Craig Hilts and I’ll include a bunch of my favourite photos of his for you to look at.  (You can click on any of them to go to his website!)  You can also find part one of this chat here.

What advice do you have for aspiring storm chasers and storm photographers?

Number one piece of advice is to stay safe; this is not something to be taken lightly or just for the fun of it. Storms can kill or seriously injure people. Understand what your getting into, take a course to be able to properly understand storms and to help you accurately report what your seeing, maybe head out on a few chases with a seasoned expert to help you learn the ropes

I’m hoping to get out with a few seasoned experts next year!  Did you take photography classes or are you self-taught?

I’m completely self-taught, Just a lot of reading and a desire to keep getting better.

You have amazing talent!  I hope I can teach myself half as well as you did.  You sell your prints and have stunning metal prints (that can be found on your website), can you tell us a bit about your amazing metal prints?  What makes a metal print so much more vibrant?

About three years ago I was looking for something different to set my work apart, at that time most people were printing canvas prints and I just didn’t like how my work looked on this medium. I read an article about printing on aluminium and thought I would give it a try, as it was different.  I got my first print and instantly new this was the print medium for me. The metal just brings realism to the image that no other medium does. When I see one of my images printed on metal it is like I’m back in that moment experiencing it all over again.

This is the one I have in metal print!

This is the one I have in metal print!

I sure love my metal print!  Besides summer storms, what is your next favourite thing to photograph?

I think my next favourite thing is to photograph space weather. I just love shooting the aurora really anything that showcases our incredible skies.

You have some amazing aurora shots! If you couldn’t do extreme photography/storm chasing, what would be next on the list of hobbies you would love?

Oh that is a tough question I just love storm chasing and couldn’t imagine not being able to do it, I would think maybe astronomy.

This shot is amazing!  The sun is creeping up on the left side, while the moon hangs out on the right side!

This shot is amazing! The sun is creeping up on the left side, while the moon hangs out on the right side!

That would be a very cool job!  A good storm chaser usually has a great group of people supporting him.  Want to send a shout out to those people/businesses that support your photography career?

The number one shout out goes to my wonderful wife Leanne and two incredible kids Chris and Sarah. They are my biggest supporters without them I just wouldn’t be able to do what I do. The next two are my co-workers Sandra Wik and Stacey Grose. They help me out immensely when I’m out chasing holding down the fort at work. Also, this year I got some great help from Wheatland Machine Shop and Vim Parmar in Swift Current who helped me build an incredible hail guard for my Jeep Chase Vehicle. Finally all of my fans and supporters, people who have bought prints or just given me encouragement along the way. Thank you to all of you.

Stunning shot. Love the contrasts of soft and hard, light and dark!

I’m sure grateful for the people who support you so you can go out and photograph!  I love your photos!  So when you aren’t out chasing, what do you and your family like to do?

We love to travel and go to as many new places as we can.  Both my kids are very active and I try and volunteer my time with their activities.  My daughter is a dancer and my son is into robotics and programming. They keep us pretty busy but I love spending as much time as I can with them.

That’s awesome!  Last question, do you like winter?  (random question, but I’m always curious to see if storm chasers like winter storms too!)

I hate it, ok hate is maybe too strong of a word. Winter is the unfortunate time between chase seasons.

Beautiful winter shot.  Even though he hates winter.  :)

Beautiful winter shot. Even though he hates winter. 🙂

Thank you Craig for being willing to answer some questions!  I look forward to next season and seeing the great shots you get between now and then!

You can follow/support Craig on Twitter, Facebook and on his website.

Thank you to everyone who came to read this chat with Craig.  I hope that you’ll come back as I plan to post more of these in the weeks and months ahead!

Also, check out my Chaser Chat’s HERE!

~Sarah

Chat with Craig Hilts of Prairie Fire Photography: Part One

Craig

This week I get to feature one of my favourite storm photographers, Craig Hilts!  I’m so excited!  Last winter I went to a trade show here in the city and happened upon this booth with some of the most amazing storm photos I have ever seen.  Craig was so welcoming and super friendly.  I spent several minutes chatting with him and trying, very hard, to pick A SINGLE photo to take home.  It was a very hard choice.  I could fill my house with his photos and still find more that I love!  On that note, I currently own five of his amazing prints!  The fifth one just arrived last week and I could not be more thrilled to now own one of his beautiful metal prints!!  (Thank you Craig!)  I’ve really enjoyed chatting with Craig and getting to know more about his passion for storm photography and I’m glad I get to introduce you all to this great guy!!

Hey Craig, thanks for being willing to answer these questions for me!  Tell me, what drew you to storm photography?

It was just something I always wanted to do. I have loved storms since I was pretty young and always wanted to get into photography but for some reason it just never happened. I would always head out to watch a storm roll in but never really actively chased them until 2006 when I bought my first really good SLR camera and I caught the storm chasing bug.

I’m so glad that you did!  Do you consider yourself a storm chaser or photographer?

I actually self taught myself both starting at the same time, so really I’m both a storm chaser and photographer. I certainly love taking pictures of some of natures other incredible moments like aurora and space events, the frost of winter etc but no matter what storm chasing and photographing storms is my biggest passion.

That’s awesome!  Maybe you could teach me!  😉  Is there one storm that stands out to you as one you will never forget?  Can you tell me a bit about what made it special?

Really every storm is memorable for me and each one is special in its own way.  I would say Pipestone, Manitoba on June 23, 2007 as my most memorable storm. I had been chasing for just one year and this was my first big long distance chase and I witnessed the Pipestone F4 tornado.

That would be amazing!!  What do you feel is the best and worst thing about chasing?

The best thing about chasing is getting to witness first hand some of natures most incredible inspiring moments. There are so many aspects of storms that just leave me in complete awe. The worst part about storm chasing is unfortunately sometimes these same incredible moments can adversely impact people, destroying property and injuring or killing people. I never want to see anyone get hurt and this is what drives me to not only chase but help warn people or be a spotter for weather professionals.

I’m so grateful for the warnings!  So, what is your goal when you go out chasing?

I have a lot of different goals, certainly to get a great image to share with other people but also to help warn and be a spotter to Environment Canada or the National Weather Service in the US to help get warnings out faster or provide more accurate information.

Those are awesome goals!  When you go out do you have a team of people that you usually chase with or does it vary?

A few years ago a fellow chaser named Gunjan Sinha and I would always end up running into each other on the same storm and we go talking and decided last year to team up and chase together. It is great because working as a team we can share costs, ideas and each of us brings a different perspective. Gunjan and I have the same philosophy when it comes to chasing and not only do we work well as a team but we have a lot of laughs on the road which is important as it is a lot of hours in the car together.

I bet you guys have a lot of fun!  During an average season, how many hours do you log on the road?

I have never really kept track of hours but I would say a lot. I know this year we logged more than 30,000kms chasing storms.

Wow!  That’s a lot of hours!  You often seem to be in the right place at the right time for amazing photos, but I’m sure it’s not always that way.  On average, how many shots will you take of a storm?

I would say on average I come home with about 200 shots all together and from that I have about 10% that are keepers and I will select maybe my favourite 5 to share.

I know you probably hate this question… but what is your favourite photo or photos?

I really love just about all of the pics and sometimes its is hard to narrow down but Here are my top 5 not necessarily my best pics but each one of these is special to me for a particular reason.

Bolt from the Blue 1D3C1006 1D3A9876(final) 1D3C0996-Edit(final) j5 - Danger

Please check out Part Two here!

**Click on any of the photos above to get to Craig’s AMAZING website!

**Also, here’s how you can follow Craig and his amazing talent!
Twitter

Facebook

Instagram @ prariefirephoto

Also, check out my other Chaser Chats HERE!

~Sarah

Weather Wednesday

I’ll keep this short because I want to get back outside where the weather is gorgeous and the storm clouds are rolling by without touching us.

Here’s the beautiful tornado that began it all.  Photo credit to the amazing Craig Hilts of Prairie Fire Photography.

Craig tornado

One year ago today, June 26th, 2012, I saw my very first tornado on the Tornado Hunter (Greg Johnson’s) live feed!  It was amazing!  I could not believe how close to us it was.  I watched as this beautiful tornado passed harmlessly through fields for about ten minutes.  I was hooked from that day.  The fascination began.  I’ve grown from being terrified of storms to being awed by them.  I respect the damage that storms, and especially tornadoes, can do.  I know that many, especially this year, have been affected by powerful storms.  I’ve watched friends caught in scary situations, family members facing floods and mourned the loss of some pioneers in storm chasing.  (RIP Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young.)

I know that storms aren’t all fun and adrenaline, but there is amazing beauty and fascination that can be found in storms.  The beauty of those storms as they bubble up on the horizon.  The sunlight glowing on, or back-lighting, huge thunder-heads as they sweep in.  The smell of impending rain.  The motion in the clouds as the atmosphere moves them in so many directions.  The beautiful lightning that can erupt from a single storm, or a line of storm cells.  Thunder.  I love thunder.  Power.  So much power in storms.  And yes, I like to see a beautiful tornado.  Let me clarify this by saying I like a tornado in an open field with nothing but grass, dirt and the occasional tree to uproot.  When they near a city or a home, the fascination turns to prayer for any in its path.

I am so grateful for all those storm chasers out there who are out nearly all summer, gathering data to make you and I a little safer.  Think about those storms in OK this year.  Without advanced warning, brought about by these amazing men and women, the casualties could have been even more devastating!

I may never get out in the field with a pro to learn and see first hand these dynamic storms, but I am so grateful for all those who are out there live streaming so that I can watch at all!

Here’s a video from that day with Greg Johnson!

How about you?  Do you find storms terrifying or are you amazed by storms?  I’d love to hear your stories!

~Sarah