|A Little About
Photo by Jeff Lawson
As a kid: I had an interest in the atmosphere. It has been that way since I was very young. I remember days when we would watch Harold Taft, the chief meteorologist at NBC 5 explaining what was on his live radar. I did the usual weather weenie things including taping specials on severe weather or live coverage on TWC, and local things that occurred in the DFW area. I loved science so I wanted to be a volcanologist or meteorologist, giving that I was closer to storms then I was a volcano/earthquake, I chose meteorology.
I got my first camera when I was in the third grade and took a lot of pictures of weather and tape-recorded the sounds they made. I got my first camcorder when I was in the eighth grade and I video taped various weather phenomena that I could find locally.
When I got my car in the tenth grade, I began going after these storms. Most were not very successful because I didnt know what to look for. After I graduated, I went to a junior college and was planning on majoring in meteorology. Thats when I visited the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Ft. Worth. They told me about the huge amounts of weather information on the Internet. So I bought a computer and started to explore the web. It took about five months of reading every paper or article in the SPC, NSSL, Storm Track, Weather Net, and other homepages. I purchased text books, weather map books, and really got interested in forecasting as well as storm observing. These articles and books gave me a feel for how things were done in real life.
Currently: I'm a student at the University of Oklahoma finishing up my B.S. in meteorology. I'm a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) which has some excellent journals that I'm able to get online through school. I also got my ham radio license for communication when observing storms. I'm KD5HPZ.
Another interest of mine is photography. I purchased an SLR camera for my freshman year of high school for a photojournalism course which has recently been sold to an young aspiring storm observer. In winter of 1999 I got another camera with a lot more manual capabilities (Canon A2E with a Tameron II 28-200 & Sigma 19mm 2.1 lens). I love taking photo's of nature and especially weather. I also recently purchased a cheap medium format camera that I occasionally use. I use 35mm slide film when storm observing, often times I use Fuji Provia or Kodak Elite 100, both are professional grade. I also own a Pro Digital SLR, the Canon D60 which was released in spring of 2002. Since my main purpose of taking stills is to put them online, I decided to purchase one of these. This will allow me to shoot an unlimited number of images and be able to upload them immediately. Also, I won't have to hassle with scratched or lost slides, which I've recently suffered from. But I will continue to shoot slides of storms as well as digital.
Storm Chasing: I began chasing in 1994, and did a lousy job of it. It wasn't until 1996 when I had more time and money to chase. I slowly began getting better at finding the right storms and forecasting the right area. In this hobby, experience is a great lesson of storm observing. Where have I traveled for storms, and where do I consider my domain of observing storms? Like most, I'll crawl out of boundaries if things look too good to be true. But for the most part, I want to stick to an area outlined in blue on the map. Basically my domain is east of the Rockies, north of I-20 in Central Texas, and west of the heavy tree line. My ideal spot is an area with decent roads and no trees at all. So my favorite of choices would be between AMA and LBB on the Texas Caprock. The yellow colored states are states I've chased in. I average about 15,000 miles, sometimes much more on certain years. Some days are over a thousand miles all together, so mileage certainly adds up fast! I don't think twice about heading into Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, etc. If its a good day for storms and I'm free, I'm there! The past few years I've taken summer college courses which have restricted me from heading out as much as I would like in June. Luckily I'm able to be free all of June now. Many of my most memorable storm days are the ones that don't involve tornadoes. Instead, slow moving gorgeous supercells, preferably on the high plains where traffic from locals is minimized. My ultimate goal on each individual storm day is to have fun, learn more, see something interesting, and capture it on film. I'm basically a storm structure person more then anything. I've always been plagued with the inability to shoot great video *and* shoot great slides at the same time. That's when I decided to go strictly stills and use the video when things are just right for only video. If you haven't experienced slide film on a gorgeous supercell day, then you are certainly missing out on something intense. I'd recommend going to a local place and purchasing one roll of 100 speed slide film and just trying it out. As some of my friends have said, "I'll never go back to prints."
So that's my story for now, I'll add more when I have the time.
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