Archive for the ‘storm’ Tag

Storm at the Stage   14 comments

Storm at the Stage, a view of the White Mountains, New Hampshire, in autumn foliage

Storm at the Stage – @ Rob Hanson Photography


One of our favorite places to spend our vacation time is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We drop our tent in a campground located a bit to the right of this frame, and spend as much time as possible hiking the hills.

The weather doesn’t always cooperate.

I know that there’s merit in climbing a mountain in almost any weather, but as the years go by I see less and less sense in spending the day going up, only to not see a thing. I’ll leave that for the younger ones…

When the weather turns foul – as it frequently does in the mountains in autumn – we retreat to a certain spot along the road, where we can sit in the warm truck, watching the clouds rolling over the peaks, while plotting the next day’s adventures… weather permitting.

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Initially, I wasn’t sure what to do with this image as there was no distinct subject in the full frame that came out of the camera. I found that cropping it as a 2:1 panoramic did the trick. HDR from seven exposures +/-1EV, HDR Express, 32 Float, and Photomatix for the base, Nik and OnOne for the embellishments in Photoshop.

Under the First Layer   4 comments

Under the First Layer

To the same location where Molasses and I Fought the Lawn… were shot, I returned the other day with prints in hand to give to the elder Mr. Riggs, who owns the granary and feed store on the property. It was my way of getting him to allow unfettered access to the remainder of the property… and it worked. Well, he wouldn’t let me inside any of the buildings, but there was much to be seen as I worked my way through the woods and fields.

There’s nothing modern about this place. All the barns, silos, and tin buildings are worn and weathered, with some close to collapse.

I worked my way around one large building and found this vignette on the back and propped my tripod between the building and a large pecan tree that had fallen thanks to Hurricane Irene. I marveled at the slow collapse of the wooden siding, boards holding on by just a few nails here and there, and the weathered look of old tar paper and wood being revealed bit-by-bit over time.


This is a 9-frame HDR processed using both Photomatix Pro and HDR Express/32 Float. Also of note is that post-processing in Photoshop was done with the brandy-new Color Efex Pro 4 from Nik Software, now in beta. We’ve just been released to speak of the new program, and lemme tell you… it’s a great update!

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Squash Is Both a Noun and a Verb   5 comments

Squash Is Both a Noun and a Verb

The ironic thing is that we had a Trombocino squash garden growing under those Leyland Cypress trees… you know, the bushy trees that are nearly horizontal. Neither made it.

This was the scene as we went out the back door on Sunday morning after Hurricane Irene. The winds had blown hard out of the north, which is on the left side of the picture. About 12 years ago we planted three Leylands to soften the shed, never really expecting that they’d grow to 40-50′, nor be that lush. Sadly for them, all the dense foliage acted like a sail, so they were the first to go. Just off-frame to the left, there are two others that are down. There goes our privacy hedge.

There’s an old poem from Japanese poet and Samurai, Mizuta Masahide:

Barn’s burnt down —
I can see the moon.

While we lament the passing of these magnificent trees, we’re excited that the loss opens up an opportunity for us to plant new gardens or fruit tree guilds. For those following the story, the image The Vegitect was taken with my back to the shed, near where the grill is standing. And although the annual gardens have been a blast this year, we have plans to pull up the remaining grass and develop a permaculture (polyculture) food forest throughout the backyard in the coming years.

Another thought that struck me during this storm: Although the property is pretty ripped up, I consider this to be what I call “a first-world problem.” There are many people farther north of us who are still coping with record flooding situations, with some towns simply washed away. We’ve got issues down here, but nothing like some of those more northern places. I would hope that everyone who reads this could reach down and donate a bit to the American Red Cross, or other disaster relief organization, in order to help out those in need, particularly since funds at FEMA are about to be heavily politicized (Boooo!) Having been on the receiving end of the equation in the past, I can tell you that nothing is more welcome than seeing good people come to the rescue.

Please help.

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Where Do Hummingbirds Go During a Hurricane?   8 comments

A hummingbird works a hyacinth flower shortly after Hurricane Irene hit North Carolina

Where Do Hummingbirds Go... ©2011 Rob Hanson

We’re back up and online… at least for the moment. As you may know, our town in North Carolina was the first to bear the brunt of Hurricane Irene on 8.27.11 We took a direct hit, as we so often seem to do, and it has taken this long to clear the debris and get power restored, although service is still a bit spotty. We lost all the trees in our yard save for one.

While the storm winds were not a severe as we’ve taken in the past — NC seems to be a hurricane magnet — the size and duration were larger than I’ve ever seen. Winds started picking up on Friday night, we lost power in the middle of the night, and landfall occurred on Saturday. Even toward sunset on Saturday, the winds were still whistling through the shingles.

The combined effect of heavy rain and extended strong winds caused a lot of tree damage in the area. Fortunately, most structures stayed intact, but the number of downed trees and power lines is just stunning. Even as of Wednesday morning, there are still quite a number of people without power.

We might have been the lucky ones. Up north in New York and Vermont, the damage from heavy rainfall is incredible and sad. I think they fared much worse up there. It goes to show that with these tropical storms, you never can take them too lightly.

Shortly after the storm, we went out to inspect the area and were pleased to hear birds chirping, as well as a pair of hummingbirds that have called our yard home.

We were left wondering: Where do hummingbirds go for protection from 90MPH winds? They’re so light and fragile, it seems impossible, but the next day, they went right back to work. Incredible.

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Devastated   8 comments

The day after a line of strong storms and tornadoes moved through eastern North Carolina was a beautiful, clear day. Having hunkered down for the storms, we decided to take a morning drive, and (of course) I had my camera with me. Never before had I seen a situation like this close up, and it was both startling and humbling to see what nature can do. With great compassion and respect for the victims of the storm — both alive and dead — I decided to chronicle some of the effects, if only as a reminder that our lives are fragile and precious, despite our attempts to protect ourselves from the environment we live in.

On Saturday, April 16 2011, a strong line of storms approached North Carolina from the west, bringing high winds, large hail, and numerous embedded tornadoes. This same storm system had already done substantial damage in the mid-west, causing a number of fatalities.

We had endured high winds all day, even though there was little rain. We battened down outside, taking special care to protect our newly enlarged garden (see “More Hay“) by stacking courses of hay bales, covering fragile plants, and parking the truck just upwind. It seemed to work pretty well.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening, we sat monitoring the weather channels and internet, keeping an eye out for radar signatures that would indicate rotation in the many storm cells that were moving across the state. Areas such as Sanford, NC, near Raleigh, were especially hard hit by isolated tornadoes, in one case flattening a Lowe’s store. Pretty frightening stuff. Not long after, a strong cell moved through Bertie County to our north, causing widespread damage and a number of fatalities. We began to realize that our position monitoring the news was definitely a worthwhile effort — time well spent.

Toward 9 PM, we were watching the last of the storm line passing through the area, attenuating from a maritime effect coming off the nearby Atlantic. Just when we thought we’d be in the clear, we saw two lines of storms, one just to the north and one very close to the south, with tornadoes reported in each of them. As is sometimes the case, our town seemed to split the storms, and we realized that we would be in the clear.

It turns out that the squall line to the south contained an F2 tornado. The twister ran through the Croatan National Forest just a few miles to our south, carving a swath of damage through the trees. Since tornadoes don’t like resistance, they tend to dance over the treetops. Instead of toppling trees over at the base, the tops are simply snapped off:

Pine trees in the Croatan Forest are snapped in half by a tornado

Snaps in the Forest


A lone pine tree snapped at the base by an F2 tornado, Croatan, North Carolina

Oh, Snap!


Okay, in some cases the trees are just pushed over:

Pine trees in the Croatan National Forest are pushed over by a tornado



The tornado came to the boundary of the Croatan National Forest, approaching Route 70, a wide highway with plenty of clear area to set down. It seemed to be somewhat selective as it took only half of a sign. In a sense, we think what’s left of the sign tells a story in and of itself:

A roadside billboard shows the effects of an F2 tornado near New Bern, North Carolina

Little cuts


From what we understand, when a tornado leaves a forested area and comes upon a clearing, it will then set down to the ground. Such was the case here, as the clearing allowed the tornado to set upon the ground, crossing over Route 70 and slamming into a residential development fronted by older houses. Over 50 homes were damaged, with 10 likely completely destroyed. Fortunately, there were no fatalities from the twister, although at least 25 people throughout the state lost their lives to tornadoes like this one.

An older house destroyed by an F2 tornado near the Croatan Forest, New Bern, North Carolina



A residential development bears the brunt of an F2 tornado near the Croatan Forest, New Bern, NC



Our hearts go out to all who were affected by the storm, as they pick up the pieces and find some peace in their lives again.

Yet, there is beauty in all things, and though so much was destroyed in the storm, it is still the form of nature that fascinates. Even though trees are down and the area is ripped up, it will make way for a new beginning.

A tree damaged by F2 tornado near Croatan National Forest, New Bern, NC

Life in the Ruins

“Determination”   3 comments

A surfer plies hurricane swell during Hurricane Earl, near Oceanana Pier, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina


A surfer plies the storm swell from Hurricane Earl, off the Oceanana Pier in Atlantic Beach, on the Crystal Coast in North Carolina.

This is an HDR image, although there clearly isn’t a great deal of dynamic range available. It was processed with both Photomatix Pro 4 beta — available to all — and another beta HDR program that is not yet released.

If I have one issue these days, it’s choosing between the various HDR programs available, and which to apply to a given image. All of the programs are really strong, and each has its own distinct capability or style. Each also has its not so great points, so sometimes you have to find one with a nice balance.  Other times, you can process an image with different HDR programs, and then combine the results using layers and masks in Photoshop.

Such is the case here. I really liked what Photomatix Pro 4 beta did with the textures and definition in the water, but, as expected, it didn’t treat the surfer (i.e., skin tones) quite as well. Even the tonemapping of the water needed just a little something.  I could have also taken a pass with HDR Expose from Unified Color, or better yet, their new 32 Float plug-in for Photoshop, but I’m testing another new HDR product, so I decided to try that one.

Choosing between various presets available, I found one that came close to the look I wanted, and I then adjusted the sliders to balance definition, color, and contrast, with an eye to ‘keeping it real.’  Perfect.  Combining the Photomatix results with the second pass results allowed me to a) patch in the surfer the way I wanted, and b) blend the two environments — water, foam, wave — to good effect.

This multiple pass approach certainly takes a lot of time — more time than I’d prefer to spend. But I think that as time goes on, one can develop an eye for a specific image and immediately know which program would do the best job at rendering for the artist’s desired result.

And yet, that’s just one aspect of post-processing.  Now… which filters to apply? 8)

Although it makes one want to do a 365 project of nothing but SOOC shots, it’s nice to sit back and look at the final product while thinking, “That’s cool… I hope others enjoy this.”

I hope you do.


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