Friday, September 17, 2010

September 15 2010 - Tornado Warned Storm Near Severy Kansas

 I had watched the storm form and the great radar presentation it had but nearly waited to long to head out for an intercept. After I got about 15 minutes out I realized I had left my cameras tripod mount on the desk so I was already off to a bad start. I got slowed down by some road construction South of Yates Center that put me back 15 minutes or so and ended up near Fall River on 400 when I heard that there was a verified tornado on the ground near Severy.

 I could see a section of intense lighting under the base of the storm that was highly suspect as I topped a few hills but I could see nothing definite. I stopped about 7 miles East of Severy to shoot the structure because I knew there was some history of monster hail in a few of the storms and that the tornado was supposed to be along HWY 400 so I decided not to punch through. Being the structure fan I am I started shooting in the path of the oncoming tornado with my Pentax K-7 and my Sigma 10-20mm Superwide Lens which gives great structure pictures but puts you much closer to the action than it appears in a photo. I wasn't let down even though it was pretty dark already....

September 15 2010 - Tornado Warned Storm near Severy Kansas

 Again, in this case I already know am in the path of a reported oncoming tornado, this is not the place to be! These photos while in my opinion show the beauty of the oncoming storm are a perfect example of why it is often what you do not see that makes them quite dangerous. I never seen this until after reviewing the photos but a lightning strike in just the right place in the clouds revealed a rain wrapped tornado moving right at me. This is a perfect example of why a rain wrapped tornado is so very dangerous.

September 15 2010 - Tornado Warned Storm near Severy Kansas, 10mm Super Wide Angle, Tornado included.

 The next hazard was of course my second favorite part of a storm, Lighting. The lighting was quite intense here. This is a photo shot a few seconds behind the one that revealed the rain wrapped tornado in which it is again not even visible to the camera.

September 15 2010 - Tornado Warned Storm near Severy Kansas

 The lighting show goes on as it gets closer.

September 15 2010 - Tornado Warned Storm near Severy Kansas

 And after many close calls, too close for comfort. Again this is at Super Wide Angle.

September 15 2010 - Tornado Warned Storm near Severy Kansas. 10 MM Super Wide Angle close lighting strike.

 I moved back to near Fall River as the tornado sirens started sounding there to catch some more lightning and then back to Fredonia where we got run over by high winds and torrential rain. Again, these and many other photos are for sale and can be found on my website at

Thursday, September 2, 2010

August Double Rainbows in Kansas

I love capturing atmospheric optics which include things like rainbows, halos and sundogs.

The morning of August 31st provided me with a small narrow line of showers perfect for morning rainbows. I headed out with my Pentax K-7 and my Sigma 10-20mm super wide angle lens and got on the East side of the line of showers. In order to get the best full rainbows you need the sun to be hitting the cloud full on while still low in the sky. This typically means when the showers are first popping up or you will end up with to much cloud cover to get any full shots.

The rainbow this morning went from a single to a double in short order and was persistent for quite a long time giving me a nice collection of Kansas Double Rainbow photos.

August 31 2010 - Double Kansas Rainbow under the morning rains.

I tried out various foreground scenes in a hurry while trying to stay in front of the rains but remain close enough to keep the rainbow right close and vivid.

August 31 2010 - Double Kansas Rainbow under the morning rains.

It turns out that you can actually toss quite a few things in the foreground when the rainbow lasts this long which is rare. usually the clouds block the sun partially or in full and it's a done deal.

August 31 2010 - Double Kansas Rainbow Over Wild Sunflowers

If you have tried catching a full rainbow then you probably realized that it rarely fits fully in the picture and especially a double rainbow. Along comes the superwide lens. My choice was the Sigma 10-20mm which was the most affordable lens for my budget that would still do a good job.

August 31 2010 - Double Kansas Rainbow under the morning rains.

If you have captured one this close you also realized that your camera is likely going to get wet. Generally that will spell doom for a digital camera but since my usual photographic outings involve storms and rain I opted for the Pentax K-7 with its weather sealing. Now you can get weather resistant lenses but in this case the Sigma 10-20mm is not and so you do run an increased risk of problems but I do feel better that the camera is still sealed.

Remember that my photos are available for purchase for prints or digitally for commercial and hobby use on

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Video Time Compression with VirtualDub

If you are like me you have probably wanted to do some video time compression of some video in the past but have never been able to justify the cost of the fancier programs that were set up to do. I have found the answer for both of us and it is free.

I had used Virtualdub in the past but could never figure out quite how to do it correctly until tonight. I took a simple HD video that was laying around that I had shot back in July with my Pentax K-7 hoping to get some good lightning strikes and tossed it in Virtualdub and got some pretty good results. The video was originally 3:14 long and was cut to :24.

Grab you a copy of Virtualdub if you don't have it and lets get started. Open up Virtualdub and drag your file into the window and drop it in and you should see something like this:

Then click on video in the menu and select "Frame Rate" like so:

Now here is the part you will have to consider but myself I went with an 8 to 1 ratio. If you want to speed up your video then multiply your frame rate by the rate of speed you want to compress it by (30 times your desired ratio) and enter it in the "change frame rate to (fps)" box and then enter the same multiplication factor in the "decimate by" box. Make sure you clicked the correct selections as shown below and click OK.

Some people will do a 4X rate and in that case you would have a "120" frame rate and a decimation factor of "4". In my case I wanted an 8x speed and so I ran a "240" frame rate and a decimation factor of "8" as shown in the next screen:

At this point you can go ahead and save the AVI file but it will be huge and need compressed. With the right codecs installed you can also do that under the video option as well by clicking
the appropriate codecs before saving the file.

Click File / Save as AVI and let it run out your new time compressed video.

It is that easy. Just remember that if you don't use some kind of compression codecs in Virtualdub that the file will be huge and will need to be compressed with another program after the fact.

Jim Saueressig -