Storm Chasing

I officially went on a real storm chase with my husband yesterday.  Storm chasing has been part of his career for several years now.  Though we’ve been best friends for all of those years, I’ve never gone on a chase with him, at least not one that amounted to anything.  Yesterday, a group of four of us circled the OKC metro area chasing severe storms.  We saw approximately nine tornadoes throughout the course of the day.  We were on the major tornado right before it hit Carney.  We saw the tornado that went over the interstate in Shawnee and hit the trailer park.  We also saw the tornado north east of Norman near Lake Thunderbird.

Before yesterday, I had been in a tornado (though some have questioned whether it was actually a tornado or just straight line winds, I call it a tornado).  I’ve even driven through a tornado with my dad when I was a child.  One thing about my family, they aren’t good a hiding from storms.  I personally will take shelter, every single time.  My dad doesn’t so often.  We drove through a storm near Purcell with the sirens going off.  One of the most stressful times of my childhood.

You see, I’m actually terrified of severe storms and tornadoes.  I know, it’s ironic.  I do feel safer driving next to the tornado, because I can see it, as opposed to hiding in my bathtub not really knowing whats going on.  Yesterday, I was most fearful for my puggy dog, who we had to leave at home.  I’m sure poor Suruchi was scared as well, and I wasn’t there to cuddle with her.  Thankfully, Norman made it out just fine.

A friend reminded me this morning that I used to want to be a storm chaser.  I did have my dreams set on being a meteorologist at one point in life.  Until math happened.  I’m not so good at math.  I discovered I’m a much better writer, however, that hasn’t gotten me very far in life, so I may have made a mistake, but that’s beside the point.  I did take meteorology in college as my science, because, even though I’m deathly afraid of the weather, it still fascinates me!  I was ready to see some severe weather and use my fancy camera to take a few photos.

We had an amazing time.  Tornadoes have a beauty of their own.  Yes, they bring destruction, and yes, that does break my heart.  But, you can’t deny the power and presence.  I stood in awe of several very large tornadoes yesterday.  It was like nothing I have ever seen before.  A huge force of nature roaring through trees, power lines, and unfortunately, even homes.  It’s indescribable and emotional.  I laughed and almost cried, stood breathless and couldn’t hold my camera still from my hands shaking.  Pure nature, completely out of human control.

We couldn’t stop it, all we could do was capture it.  But, silly me, I couldn’t even do that correctly.  I’m embarrassed and infuriated with myself over the chase.  I have a very expensive camera, that I use often.  I can take good photos, especially of people.  I’ve practiced with it and had internships as a photographer.  I’m not a newbie by any means.  But, I do have one flaw.  I tend to let peer pressure affect me, and I worry about what people think.  This gets me in trouble all the time.  And got me in trouble yesterday.

First, I will say, I love my husband.  He is incredible at what he does.  He’s photographed storms for forever and takes marvelous photos.  I wanted pictures like his.  I’ve had a friend tell me before, and had my husband tell me also that I need to start using my manual focus and ISO and other fancy buttons and switches on my expensive camera.  You see, I’ve always shot automatic.  It’s easy.  I am comfortable with it.  The way I see it, I paid for my camera to take nice photos and work the way it does.  It doesn’t need me to mess with it or change things up.  But, for some reason, yesterday, I decided that I needed to play with my manual aperture.  Completely a disaster!  I could just kick myself.

And the unfortunate thing is, I knew better.  I give into “peer pressure” so easily.  I care too much about what people think.  I wanted to be a cool kid in the car who knew how to operate my camera all fancy like.  Now I just wonder, “why did I do that?”  I definitely don’t look cool now with all black photos.  So, while the day was incredible, my photos were not.

I do have to say thanks to my little brother Colt.  He did call me and ask if I could send some pictures to him on my cell phone.  I didn’t even have my phone out until after he called me.  I wasn’t using it to take photos until he asked for some.  Because of Colt and his curiosity,  I did capture some tornadoes with my Iphone.  Not the best quality, but it’s something.  Who knew a cheap Iphone would take better photos than a fancy camera!?  Definitely, user error.

Overall, it was a life-changing experience.  I’m still not over all the crazy emotions and I fear today.  I did learn a few life lessons:

1. Forget trying to be like everyone else, fit in with the crowd, and impress others.  If something works for you, and you like it, then do it.  Being like everyone else is overrated.
2. Tornadoes are no joke.  When there is a warning, please go and hide!  Take it seriously.
3. It’s probably not a good idea to stand on your roof or mow your lawn while a tornado passes by your house.  Just be smart.
4. Regardless of whether or not you capture life moments on camera, you still make the memories.  Photos are just temporary anyway.  Your memories stick with you forever.

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