Sunday, March 27, 2016

03/15/16 March Madness

Spring kicks off its own version of march madness as supercells develop in west-central Illinois near Macomb, IL

On March 15th, I ended up breaking out the storm chasing gear once again as I had been contemplating a possible storm chase for several days somewhere in Illinois. After reviewing the weather models for several days this dynamic spring storm system continued to slow down putting west-central Illinois in the cross-hairs for the threat for severe weather and possible tornadoes on this day. On Super Tuesday, I had to work till 3:00pm in Peoria, IL, but I checked out of work early by 1:30pm to head west to an initial target near Macomb, IL under sunny skies. A low pressure system that was heading into west-central Illinois by evening looked to spark discrete supercells by 5:30pm near the Mississippi River and move quite quickly northeast into west-central Illinois and points east. By late afternoon, I was already at my target near Colchester, IL. This area featured around 1,500J/kg of CAPE, 0-6km shear at 60kts, 0-3km storm relative helicity around 250m2/s2, and a moistening boundary-layer with dew points near 59°F. The ingredients were certainly present for supercells and even tornadoes. Discrete supercells began to initiate and organize along the Mississippi River after 5:00pm. A few supercells continued to organize for the next hour or two generally moving toward my position. I ended up being patient initially trying to determine which one was going to be the more dominant storm in this area. I chose the southernmost storm initially as it looked as if it would have the best environment to feed off of during the evening. This supercell was moving at a pretty good clip though. Even with a fairly good road network it was difficult to keep up moving north and east from my position while keeping out ahead of this supercell. It had good mid-level rotation while I was chasing it, but it quickly moved too far to my northeast to keep up so I had to let it go only to regret that later on when it produced a tornado. Since I couldn't get back ahead of the supercell I wanted to chase I drove north of Colchester, IL to intercept another supercell to my west that had a nice lowering wall cloud and horseshoe structure. I had already lost my view of the easternmost supercell at my position as that storm went tornado-warned and produced a tornado near Good Hope, IL. While that storm was producing a tornado to my northeast, I noticed that inflow into my supercell to the northwest really pick up suddenly as I was photographing this storm. This supercell looked to be occluding and for a brief few minutes was tightening its rotation which allowed me to photograph a nice funnel during this process that was nearly wrapped in rain. This supercell didn't drop a tornado like the storm to my northeast did, however it did provided a few photogenic shots that I was quite pleased with nonetheless. Once I realized I couldn't catch back up to these storms as they were moving too fast to my northeast and the sun was beginning to set I decided to begin the drive back home to Peoria, IL. My route back home was fun in itself after getting pelted with quarter-size hail north of Bartonville, IL on I-474. This supercell was also quite intense as it moved northeast. Its circulation moved into Peoria, IL which would later be found to have caused minor tornado damage the following day seen here. My parents that live in nearby Edwards, IL also took a beating with golf-ball size hail that covered the ground for a brief time as well. Luckily, I managed to get back home at a decent hour and found no damage at my house from hail etc. All in all, it was a decent first chase of 2016 with all things considered even though I missed out on the tornado near my initial target. You'll have these type of the days when chasing storms though. Anyhow, it sure was nice to get out once again especially so close to home however. Here's a nice radar loop from the National Weather Service (DVN) illustrating how the storms evolved during the entire event here. I've added a few photos from the chase day below:

First view of the supercell that would later produce a tornado near Good Hope, IL
Supercell storm structure starting to form to my west as it moves quickly off to my northeast eventually producing a tornado...
Supercell #2 to my northwest just before sunset northwest of Colchester, IL
"Angry skies"
 Inflow increases suddenly...
 "Spinning clouds"
Closer-view of this funnel that tried to spin up...
This supercell begins to dissipate as I begin to drive back home...

That wraps up this chase day. This day left me wanting much more to be desired. I ended up with some decent storm structure, but left me hoping for more chase opportunities sooner rather then later in the coming weeks.

Friday, March 18, 2016

03/04/16 Artistic

Trying my hand at some artistic photography earlier this month in Peoria, IL

On March 4th, I decided to do some product photography in hopes of getting some artistic photos. It's a category of photography I haven't spent too much time on over the years so I decided it was time to try something different. I had recently bought a light tent at work and I used it to photograph a few decorative bowls that I have in my house. The spiraling nature of these items intrigued my eye enough that I thought I could get a few neat photos out of them. I ended up using my camera's flash while setting them up in my light tent and started shooting. I was quite pleased with the results as they really are quite pleasing to the eye and give an abstract kind of feel in the photos. I've added photos from the day below:

"Spiraling"
 Quite cool!
 Love the colors!
 My favorite!
 "Swirling"
 "In a galaxy far, far away!"
 Captivating to the eye...
The weather nerd in myself can see a hurricane in there...
The light tent and the swirling lines in these bowls really made for some neat photography!
These shots kind of have a desktop wallpaper kind of look...
Quite photogenic!
"Whirlpool"
Cool stuff!

That wraps up this post. I had a fun time playing around with certain angles to achieve some of these artistic shots. I also ended up storm chasing on March 15th and I'll add some photos from that local chase as soon as I find some free time over the coming week or so.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

03/01/16 Vintage

Some clever Adobe Photoshop work with my Canon AE-1 film camera at my house in Peoria, IL 

On March 1st, I decided to take some time to photograph my Canon AE-1 film camera in hopes to get a few vintage photos that I could bring to life in Adobe Photoshop. I decided to keep a few of my color photographs while creating some dramatic black n' white photos as well. I also decided to do a color splash on my favorite photo of the bunch (above). I've added a few more photos I shot below:

It's quite interesting to get a feel for what many photographers used to photograph with before film cameras switched to digital...
The black n' white really gave a more dramatic vintage feel to the photo!
 "The rest of the world was black n' white"...
"But we were in screaming color!"
A once very popular film camera in its day...
"Old-school"

That's all for this post. I also found some down time to partake in some more artistic photography earlier this month as well. I will post those photos in an upcoming post.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

01/11/16 Winter Wildlife

A blue jay enjoying a January afternoon in Edwards, IL 

On January 11th, I headed out into the great outdoors with my Canon 5D Mark III and Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.0-5.6 II L IS telephoto-zoom lens to capture some wildlife photos in Edwards, IL. I had not photographed some wildlife in a good while so I figured I'd take a boring January afternoon to do so on this day. I was quite happy with several shots as I was able to capture some cardinals, blue jays, a red-bellied woodpecker, and a house finch. I shot several photos on this afternoon and I've included several of them below:

A cardinal perched in a tree!
 Quite a photogenic shot here!
 A red-bellied woodpecker!
From branch...
To branch...
A cardinal on a fence...
A blue jay's turn!
 Another neat shot as the blue jay's really cooperated on this day!
 Quite a vivid cardinal here!
 Shooting photos of wildlife sure does gives one something to do during the winter months!
 A house finch!
 Someone had a few too many peanuts...
 A mid-day snack!
 The cardinal once again...
 "Should I stay or should I go now"?!
 "Ready for take-off"
A female cardinal!
"Hanging out"
Another photogenic shot!
One last photo of another cardinal on this afternoon...
It was a good day for some wildlife photography!
"Hello, from the other-side!"
"Lunch-time"
One last shot to end the day on...

This was a good day of photography as I was able to capture some good shots of some of the winter wildlife in the area. I'll be sure to add more posts as needed in the upcoming months as spring approaches.