David Drummond on October 9th, 2011

West Texas Lightning

Just finished up editing lightning photos from the chase night before last across West Texas and Eastern New Mexico.  Fun, but long day, despite the lack of anticipated severe weather and flooding rains.  It was nice to finally get a shot at some local lightning photography!

You can view all the photos and the chase story here. All the photos there can be clicked on for a larger size!


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David Drummond on October 4th, 2011

This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch storm chaser Ben Holcomb’s new 2011 Storm Chasing DVD creatively titled Relocated. Ben moved to Central Oklahoma from Michigan to more conveniently and actively pursue his severe weather interests, and this DVD shows that move certainly paid off!

In full disclosure I must confess that I am friends with Ben. I’ve known Ben for a while now and have watched him grow not only as a storm chaser but as a photographer as well. His video skills have greatly improved over the last couple of years, and some of the segments in this video really show that!  That said, he knows that I would be brutally honest in a review of his DVD, good or bad.

Despite the fact that I personally had the worst storm chasing season since 1988, Ben seemed to have been on a lot of tornadoes in 2011, and I’m kicking myself for not being there.  There aren’t the killer, more well known tornadoes from 2011, but some of the lesser known events. Despite them being lesser known events, they are still no doubt stunning captures. A couple of the tornadoes he caught I was somehow unaware they even happened!

The package quality was no less than you would receive from a store bought DVD. Nothing about it screams amateur DVD.  (In fact, I’ve seen a couple of tornado knockoff videos in the past that sold on store shelves that were downright awful compared to Ben’s offering).

Most of the DVD is in full resolution HD. I watched in on a 82″ DLP screen and the quality was great on most of the clips.  There were one or two (a clip from the dashcam) that come to mind, that were sprinkled in that didn’t appear to be HD, as well as some of the trailers for other chaser videos at the beginning (more on that in a minute).

If you like tornado footage, this DVD does not disappoint, including a couple of long lived tornadoes he managed to capture.  I found myself yelling at the TV while he was shooting the tornado near Chickasha, OK. There was an embankment about 15 feet tall next to the road he was on, and as the tornado moved behind it I was begging him to grab the camera and run up the embankment, as it was obscuring the ground contact of the tornado!  Nonetheless, it was a great tripoded video segment and clearly had me engaged in the action!

He even includes a bonus at the end of video and photos from his trip to view the final space shuttle launch.  A nice treat I wasn’t expecting.  As a whole, I can find little to complain about in this DVD (I know, a rarity for me, right?)

One thing that really stuck out as a negative was a couple of the trailers for other storm chaser DVDs.  This was a nice idea and I kinda hope it catches on, to expose people to more of the DVDs produced every year.  But one thing I would do, and this is directed at the creators of those trailers, make sure your trailer is in full 1080p HD before you give it to someone to include on their DVD.  Some of them looked downright awful on a big screen, especially the text.  There are a lot of big screens out there now.  I know Ben just inserted them in the quality he received them, so not a knock on his DVD.

Bottom line, go right now and buy Ben’s 2011 Relocated DVD, you will NOT be disappointed!  If you aren’t convinced yet, here is the trailer!