Five Minute Friday: Willing

5minutefriday

It’s Five Minute Friday!  Where I (and a large community of bloggers) write for five minutes.  No editing, no overthinking, no backtracking.  Here I…

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I’m willing to try to find beauty and joy in winter.  I figure I should at least try… considering we get about six months of it.

To see the beauty in the mountains of snow, bitter cold and endless white.  I’ve been struggling with it.  I know that this season, like all seasons, are a creation of the Creator.  I’m sure that winter is good for many reasons.

Sadly, I have trouble finding those reasons.  Sure the kids can go out and build snowmen and toboggan… but it’s so cold.  The need for 15 layers drives the fun out of that experience for me.

We got (my snow-blowing hubby says ‘a foot’) though I swear it was closer to 3 feet of snow in the last two day.  I was grumbling and whining and maligning the snow and it’s efforts to hamper my journey through the city.

But then, a ray of sunshine.  Well, not actually sunshine… but a Facebook post.  My favourite photographer posted some images that caught my eye and stole my breath.

Craig snowflake 2

Magnificence.  Yes, Craig Hilts is super talented and, I’m sure, could make garbage look beautiful… but these are stunning not only because of the talented photographer but because of their creation.  Look at the image above.  Look at the lines, the craftsmanship that has gone into that one, tiny snowflake.  Not one is the same as it’s cold neighbour.  Each with it’s own intricacies and beauty.  Stunning.

To think that I have billions of these little works of art in my yard -in my city.  It’s like living with an art gallery in my own yard.  Suddenly, I don’t have to work so hard to be willing to see the beauty and joy in winter.  Suddenly, it’s everywhere.

Thanks Craig.

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You can find Craig’s website HERE!  The awesomeness doesn’t just stop with snowflakes.  Oh no.  He’s got some amazing photos.  Go visit his website… you can thank me later!  😉  Here’s a whole series of snowflake shots that Craig took.  They are just too awesome not to share.

Craig snowflake1 Craig snowflake Craig snowflake 7 Craig snowflake 6 Craig snowflake 5 Craig snowflake 4 Craig snowflake 3So beautiful!  (Keep scrolling for some more images that Craig took!)  Thanks for joining me for Five Minute Friday.  It’s been a while since I did one of these.  This is the time of the week where we just write for five minutes without worrying if it’s just right.  🙂  Unedited (YIKES) and unscripted.  Just five minutes to free-write.  Want to join us?  The rules are simple!

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back to Lisa’s website.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule.

The heart of this community is amazing!  See more at: http://lisajobaker.com/

Find Craig on Facebook and Twitter!

~Sarah

Craig bubble Craig bubble 2 Craig bubble 1

Chat with Chris Chittick of Team Tornado Hunter

Chris Chittick

I’m excited to be able to chat with Chris Chittick.  A man of few word and great skill with a camera.  I first saw Chris on TV a few years ago and really liked his quiet presence and passion for what he does.  This year he teamed up with Team Tornado Hunter and I was thrilled.  He brings a new element to the team and they fit really well together.  This summer I really enjoyed watching the three of them banter back and forth while on chases.  Chris has been one of my favourite chasers for many years and I was honoured to be able to ask him some questions!

Thank you Chris for being willing to chat with me!  Tell us how you got into storm chasing and storm photography?

 I got into storm chasing back in 1998 as a hobby.  I fell in love with it in 2000 when I saw my first tornado in WY.  I didn’t start picking up the video camera until about 2008….I realized I have the photographic eye and have been in love with shooting and editing ever since.
You certainly do have great skill with a camera!  Do you only chase tornadoes or is it all weather you love to chase?
I chase all extreme weather from ice and snow storms to hurricanes to tornadoes.
Well, you’ll certainly get a chance to chase snow in Canada!  Can you tell us about the very first tornado you remember?
First tornado was in 2000 in south-east WY.  It formed over our heads and dropped just to our west close to some hills and I fell in love with it right there.

What made you get behind a camera when storm chasing?

I first picked up the camera in 2008 and shot some things then realized I was really good at framing and just shooting in general.

Did you then take classes on photography or are you self-taught?

I am self taught.  I learnt a lot on the road and being next to Discovery Channel camera operators for 4 years.

Chris Chittick strom

That’s a great way to learn!  What was the most memorable chase you’ve ever been on?

The most memorable chase I have been on was this year May 31, 2013 El Reno.  It was unbelievable.  The sights and sounds and smells.

That was an intense chase to watch, I can only imagine the intensity of being there.  Besides tornadoes, you’ve also filmed hurricanes.  What makes a hurricane so interesting?

Hurricanes are interesting to me because it’s a whole other beast…. new things to worry about, like how am I going to get this shot etc…..It’s basically a really big tornado.

Will you be coming up to chase blizzards in the winter?

I live in Regina now, so yes, I will be chasing blizzards with the team.

How did you wind up riding with Team Tornado Hunter?

I had met Greg a couple of years ago and thought he was a great guy.  I met Ricky last year in the U.S. Plains and couldn’t get enough of him.  So, this winter I left my old team and Greg reached out to me…next thing you know I’m living in Canada.

Tornado Hunter Truck

I had no idea that you’d moved to Canada!  Hope that you like it up here!  What was the scariest moment you’ve ever had chasing?

The scariest moments I have ever had chasing was in the earlier years when we didn’t know what we were doing out there.

You sure know a lot now!  What advice would you give to aspiring storm chasers/storm photographers?

Go to some spotter training courses and soak up as much knowledge as possible, or go on a tour with a respected tour company and ask lots of questions.

Great advice!  If you couldn’t storm chase, what would you do?

If I couldn’t storm chase I would be a camera operator for TV shows.

Is storm-chasing your full-time job?  What do you do in the off-season?

Storm chasing is my full time job.  In the off season I do speaking engagements and get ready for the next season.

I’m already looking forward to watching you guys chase next year!  What do you like to do when you’re not out chasing?

I like to play golf hang with friends and family and most of all hang with my girlfriend.

Thanks again Chris for taking time to chat with me.  I look forward to watching you and Team Tornado Hunter chase this winter and, most definitely, next summer!

You can follow Chris and his photography on:

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

TORNADO HUNTER WEBSITE

Also, check out my other Chaser Chats with Ricky ForbesCraig Hilts and Sean Schofer!

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

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and not a ton has changed.  It’s been a pretty quiet storm summer… sadly.  I know there are many who are thrilled with this and I’m grateful that we haven’t had any El Reno type tornadoes.  However, last summer was so dynamic that this one has been… well, a bit of a let down.  Thankfully, we’ve had a couple really sweet storms in the past week.

My favourite storm chaser team had been having a dry spell, but they had a pretty good storm chase a few days ago.  This is one of the coolest pictures from that chase.

Storm badlands MB

Amazing image from the Tornado Hunter Team!

I’ll make sure to include an awesome video at the bottom of this post from the Tornado Hunter team.  On Monday, a nice little storm blew in and I was able to snap a picture that I really like.  Sadly, the storm yielded nothing fun, just some rain.  However it was still a beauty to look at.

Regina storm july 22-13

Snapped on the fly from our vehicle.

Then we all got a treat yesterday in this surprising and awesome storm that blew across the province and gave me one of the coolest shows I’ve seen.  I wish that words could describe this storm accurately enough that you could all see what I saw.  I’ve never seen a storm quite like this.  I tried to capture images but my phone just isn’t up to the task.  (I will get a good camera one of these days and take a great photography class!  I will!!)  Anyhow, here’s the picture I got and a few WAY more professional and beautiful ones!

Storm Regina Jul 23-13

This one is mine and doesn’t even begin to capture the awesomeness of this storm.

Storm barn july 24-13

Another amazing image from Greg Johnson (Tornado Hunter)

Chris Graham supercell3

A great capture by Chris Graham

Here’s a video of the rope tornado that team Tornado Hunter caught up to this weekend.

Hoping for some more updates with some awesome storms in the weeks to come.  Wish us luck!

How has your storm season been?  Have you had a ton of huge storms?  Do you like storms or hate them?

~Sarah

Weather Wednesday ~ Intense

Lightning and lava bombs! 

WOW!  Okay, this photograph is AMAZING!!  I was breathless just looking at it.  Pretty sure I would not have been brave enough to get this close but, boy, was Martin ever rewarded for it!

Please check out Martin’s website by clicking on the photo!  There’s even more awesomeness over there!

What do you think of this image?  Pretty intense isn’t it?  Would you have been brave enough to face the lightning and lava bombs?!

~Sarah

Weather Wednesday

Photo by Craig HiltsPrairie Fire Photography

This beautiful image comes from Craig Hilts at

Prairie Fire Photography.

To see his amazing work, click on the photo!

(I currently have 3 of his photos in my home!)

~Sarah