Storm Chasing…….Should’ve been Storm Waiting

On Friday we took a phone call from a studio requesting us to try our best at capturing the upcoming storms.  We obviously jumped at the opportunity and Saturday around mid afternoon Scott, Bre, Tracy and I loaded up the 02 Accord “perfect storm chaser as it doesn’t have a straight fender” and headed west to get to a place we thought would put us in position to accomplish our goals.  We had very solid storyboards so the vision for the plates were clear.  Well when we got to our spot about 60 miles from home we captured what we wanted then got back in the car.  What we heard was a little worrisome at first.  A severe thunderstorm with tornado potential heading right through our county.  We decided to head back that way and try to lay down some more footage along the way.  Over the radio we heard the storm gaining strength and then a report of a tornado down.   Then we heard it’s path and that’s when things got interesting.  If it held its course it would put the  tornado in our backyard.  With Scott at the wheel and me with my EPIC in my lap we were on two missions.  First and foremost make sure our children were safe who were at our house with Grandma and second capture the storm.  We ended up making it back home just as the tornado was two miles east turning our neighbors world upside down.  The first images we laid down have my house in the foreground.  Mission one was a success.  Family safe.  We traveled past our home and pursued the tornado and found a vantage point that we were comfortable with.  With the EPIC rolling and my mind on nothing but focus, composition, and exposure Scott took a sobering phone call.  This is when we found out our neighbors were a nearly direct hit.  At that point it was an easy decision.  Camera off, gear away, and an immediate trip to put our hands to use at something more useful.  Helping friends.  Derek and Amy Herzog experienced something very few will ever.  They hunkered down as a very large tornado destroyed nearly everything they owned and have worked for.  To see something like that on television does no justice to witnessing that kind of destruction in person.  Too see how Derek took it all in and immediately just got to work was truly amazing.  The dude has got some mettle!  After it was obvious everyone was ok and the roof was tarped for the next round I decided I could be most useful documenting through images their experience.  That moment was a very profound one in their lives and I hope that I captured it in a way that will always help them remember, and if they don’t want to remember they can trash the images.  What I found out that it is a serious task to tell the whole story in one image.  I think I came close in the image at the top of the this post.  The composition has three parts, the tree “destruction” the cattle “life perished and still hanging on” and the sun “the beauty among the tragedy”.  The framing is wide and subject matter to the left hopefully starting the story there and insisting that there is much more to this story outside the frame to the right.  I have several other compositions that are more intimate with the tree and cattle but the idea was too big to center on those objects.  The whole world was affected and I wanted to remind the viewer.    I ditched the color almost immediately in post as I did not remember seeing the scene in color and it did not contribute to the image.  The sun I did remember so it’s color got to stay.  It also helped bring hope back into the image.

Today in my estimation 60-90 people showed up with tools, heavy machinery, or just their hands and an incredible amount of work got done.  Amazing to see so many people working for the good of others.  My thoughts and prayers go out to any others who were affected by yesterdays storms.

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One response

  1. Denice Dater

    Matt, I read your post and viewed pics. Do you have any photos you would share with the Monitor Journal? I’d appreciate any input you have on the story too. Thanks for your consideration. Denice Dater

    April 16, 2012 at 2:29 pm

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