Storm Chasing - Pinstripes Photography

So, I'm Going Storm Chasing

I love photography, but I think you already know that.

I am also fascinated by weather, always have been.

I’m not even sure how I came to know these existed, but several years ago I learned there’s tour companies out there that will take you out for days at a time and guide you towards – not away – from severe storms. As soon as I found out this existed, the idea vaulted to #1 on my Bucket List. I can’t even tell you what #2 is to be honest.

I’ve wanted to make this materialize for the past 3-4 years, but this year it is finally going to happen. And it’s quickly approaching. In fact, we’re down to 4 weeks and counting.

Before I get too far along here, let me address the elephant in the room. Yes, I’m stoked to be doing this. At the same time I understand the power of storms and in no way interested in seeing tornadoes destroy property or hurt people. In fact, I’d love to witness a ton of storms out in the vast land that look “pretty” but don’t really cause any damage. As a photographer, I’m hoping for the “majestic” storms. All that said, I obviously don’t have any control over the weather, I’m just going to be there to witness it. I also have no fear that we are going to get swept away in a storm. My “tour guides” – that I talk about below – are professionals and I am 100% comfortable they will keep us safe. The most dangerous part of this tour actually is the potential for a motor vehicle collision.

As I said, there’s a lot of companies out there that provide this service. I spent the better part of two years finding the one that was right for me. Ultimately I chose to fulfill this bucket list item with a company called StormTours.com. The owner is Brian Barnes. I’ve corresponded with him a few times and from the first time he replied, I knew his company was the one. Brain is incredibly personable and we have a lot of the same interests – amateur radio, fire/EMS service, emergency management, photography and weather. He knows a lot more about weather and I can’t wait to learn a lot more from him and the other guides during the trip, especially when it comes to forecasting and understanding storms.

One of the other big reasons I picked Brian’s company was that out of the different tours he offers from May through June, there’s specifically one geared towards photographers. Last year that tour was 7 days and that’s what I was anticipating. But this year he made it 10 days and so although there was the added cost, I’m pretty excited for the opportunity to pack a lot into this tour.

So what does one pack for 10 days on the road storm chasing? As much as you can and as little as you can. I’ve honestly been dry run packing for the last several weeks. Basically I’ll have a medium-sized suitcase and camera bag in which I need to hold all of my clothes, electronics and photo/video equipment. It’s not easy, but I think I’ve got it with room to spare. I’m taking with me two cameras (the second mainly being a spare just in case) and two GoPros, one for 4K video and one for time lapse video. In my head I have so much I want to capture, it’s going to be interesting. For the record, convertible pants and luggage packing cubes are great inventions!

As you can imagine, this isn’t the cheapest endeavor I’ve ever undertaken, which is the main reason it’s taken me several years to pull it off. In addition to the cost of the trip itself, I’ve bought quite a bit of equipment – from a new GoPro to extra batteries, extra memory cards, backup hard drive and various other “stuff”. I’ve spent a lot of time growing my photography business over the last couple of years which has really helped fund this venture. So for those of you have purchased things from me the last few years, thank you, thank you, thank you.

So when’s this all happen? Soon. Very soon. I fly out to Denver on June 7th. I’m going to enjoy a couple days in the Denver area before heading out on the tour. It’s my first time in the area so I’m going to check out the sights and also take in a Colorado Rockies baseball game. This will be MLB stadium #12 I’m going to check off the list (although I have to go back to Atlanta because they built a new stadium). My goal is to visit all 30 stadiums in my lifetime. Getting the west coast loop will be the difficult part and may have to wait until retirement.

Anyway, we brief the evening of June 9th and then we head out on June 10th. Where will go? Wherever the storms are. There’s really no limit. Potentially hundreds of miles each day to get in position to intercept Mother Nature. I’m sure I’m going to visit multiple states I’ve never been to and explore the vast countryside. Beyond the storm chasing part, this is the thing I’m looking forward to the most. Much of the time we’ll be off the beaten path so I’m going to get the unique opportunity to see a lot of the heart of America. I can’t wait.

Finally, the main reason I started this blog is that I want to share the experience with everyone. Yes, when I get back I expect to be posting tons of photos and videos. But there’s going to be stories and I wanted a place to put them down in writing. I want to fully document this experience, both for myself and for those interested. I hope you’ll live vicariously through me and enjoy the experience as much I expect to.