Friday, June 7, 2013

The 2013 Monsoons - Coming to a Neighborhood Near You.

The 2013 Monsoon Season

So the local weather reports here in Arizona are already talking about the 2013 Monsoon Season and how it is expected to start within the next two weeks. Perhaps this might be a bit early compared to last year. Actually, if this occurs, it would be right on time. And it's time to prepare, gear-wise that is.

Capturing the Season

So it's truly time to prep and get all the gear and planning into action. Seems silly to some to be so diligent about this, I am sure. But if you think about it, when was the last time you went out to capture mother nature's fury? There are several things to prep for. There are equipment issues, safety issues and even simple monitoring issues. By monitoring I mean monitoring the weather reports, statistics and specifics that when these things come together, they show when, where and potentially how strong and event will be. This probably goes a bit beyond the standard weather reports that are broadcast by the locals.

The Tools

I gather up my arsenal of tools and equipment and prepare for immediate action. Sounds like a war is about to happen. Perhaps. Perhaps it's a war with mother nature. The reality is that if one is not ready to go on a moments notice, one might miss a gorgeous opportunity. Hence, one would miss the shot of a lifetime. I have prepped my smart phone with one page that is specifically loaded with tools for monitoring weather, calculating depth of field, sunrise/sunset times, a flashlight, and many other little apps that are pertinent to the job.
I have several USB connectors in the vehicle at all times should batteries or devices need to be recharged. I usually do this while the vehicle is in motion to not drain the vehicle's batter too much. Then of course there is the main equipment. The cameras, sliders, tripods and much more. I always take more with me than I will probably ever need. But from experience, I learned that it is always that one little thing that you really need that got left behind.

The Attitude

Attitude may seem silly, but it's so important. I have over the years had so many people ask if they could go with me on a "chase". Of course I always said yes, knowing that they would never come. You see, mother nature doesn't give a damn about time. It does what it does when it does it. So if you are tired, watching TV or doing something that you just can't get away from, then you most likely will never see what mother nature has to offer during such events. As said, mother nature will do what it wants when it wants. If you don't like mother nature's schedule, then mother nature won't give you any opportunity whatsoever to capture its beauty. The attitude must be that you are ready to "roll" at any given moment. I have stopped calling people to see if they want to come. If they call me and ask, then I tell them where I will be and to just show up. Even then, by the time they get there it's over. That is what mother nature's fury is all about.


I particularly love chasing lightning storms. And yes. This is a very dangerous prospect if one is unaware of the reality of such storms. I have had storms literally turn on me, within minutes. One really needs to understand the dangers and be prepared for anything. I write in my eBook about how my wife holds the umbrella so that the cameras don't get wet. Yes. This is purely a joke and meant as humor. Although she has been known to chase with me, and yes, held the umbrella for me, there is one major little fact I left out about that. This was only during a simple drizzle in the winter time where there was absolutely no lightning whatsoever.

Just recently I read a blog comment section where the debate was about tripods and lightning. One person truly believed that an aluminum tripod was safer than a carbon fiber tripod. So which is it? Neither... Lightning will strike and travel where it damn well wants to. It doesn't care what material it is! The truth of the matter is that you most likely will have enough conductive material no matter what you do, equipment you use, wear, or drive in. You are best off getting a great lens that will allow you to keep a distance from the storm. And even then, you may still be in danger.

There are many other dangers as well. Particularly in the dark. Living in the desert we are very familiar with these. They can range from flash floods to poisonous snakes, from cactus thorns to wild Javelinas, from dust devils (yes, they are tornadoes too) to Mountain Lions. We have it all. Common sense will only save you from disaster or even death. So use it!

I personally also recommend always taking a second person with you. A spotter if you will. Even if this person doesn't or isn't a shooter. They may actually be saving your life at some point.

So play it as safe as possible always!

A Preview of What's to Come

For those that dream of seeing what I get to see every year, but simply can not make it nor want to make it out of fear (perhaps the smart ones), here is a gallery of footage for you to look at, enjoy and even purchase if you like:

(Clicking on any one item in the Widget below will take you to that selection in a new window. Or you may simply click here and visit the entire selection. ):

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