Art Therapy and a Happy Storm!

Art as Therapy

I missed a week on my blog and as I write this I feel very self-conscious.    I was explaining to a friend that while I feel like I am running at full capacity, I am only getting a quarter of what I normally get done.  I had surgery on my leg a few weeks to fix some damage done when I got hit by a car in a hit and run while I was photographing a storm.  I guess I expected to wake up and get up the next day and run like I used to before I got hit.  When I woke up and realized that the surgery would actually take some time to get over and that until then I was actually moving even slower I went through a mental slump and found it hard to get motivated.  My shutter count is way down from normal.

For me, art is my therapy.  I have joked often that my camera is my therapist.  When Dana Crandell offered me the chance to try out a new lens, I jumped on it just to do some fun, non-client based work.  Irix makes two lenses.  I am giving the 15mm 2.4 full frame a trial run. 

This is a sweet lens, first, it is fairly fast.  When a photographer speaks of a fast lens he is referring to the f-stop.  The f-stop is the size of the hole in the lens that lets the light through.  This is adjustable for exposure purposes and artistic issues.  To say a lens is fast is to say that the hole can be opened wider than most.  Now the odd thing is the smaller the number the bigger the hole so f-22 refers to a very small hole and f-2.8 is a large hole.  This is because really that number is the bottom half of a fraction.  1/8 of a pie is less than ½ of the pie.  The faster the lens the better for the artistic issue of photography but usually the faster the lens the more expensive.  In the case of Irix, the price is very reasonable.

Because of the sky being filled with lighting I thought the 15 would be amazing.  I was able to photograph almost the entire scene before me.  The lens is very crisp.  And creates a beautiful image with little distortion.

I could hear the distant thunder and looking at the radar, I could see a storm system east of my home in Amarillo. Storms typically move eastward in these parts.  I thought I would go west to capture the thunderhead lit by the sunset.  Watching the radar on the phone as I moved west two more cells seemed to pop out of nowhere to my south and seemed to be moving straight south as the Storm Cell I originally choose began to die out.  The one thing you have to be when photographing weather is fluid.  That saying “if you don’t like the weather in Texas, stick around cause it will change is so true.

South on i27 I rolled.  I stopped by Tex Randle, Canyon’s iconic 50-foot cowboy statue.  But the angle of clouds really gave me nothing good to shoot. So I continued south with plans to get south of the storm and take pictures of whatever I would find.  I didn’t think about the fact that the storm system was really two cells. 

As I drove past the first storm, I marveled at how dark the sky became.  I wasn’t even in the rain but the majority of the storm was to the west of me and moving straight south and I was in its shadow.  I kept moving south and suddenly the sky seemed to catch fire.  In fact, the change in the sky was so sudden and dramatic it startled me and I pulled over to look for a bit.  The clouds were still hiding the sun but it was causing them to glow beautifully and then the lighting started.  I am not a meteorologist but what I was looking at seemed like the two storms were spitting lightning between them.  The sky was filled with lightning.  Daytime lightning is kind of tricky but the easiest way to catch it is a time lapse.  Time-lapse means setting your camera up to sequentially take shots automatically.  And this is what I did.  I ended up getting about 600 frames.  I am still working on the time-lapse video as it appears I bumped my tripod at one point and the video jumps.

Now here is the funny part.  I was like a kid at Christmas, hadn’t been out in a while, new lens and holy heck, the most beautiful sunset and lightning. I just knew I was coming home with lots of pixel gold.   I hurried home and guess what, a time lapse of a sky full of lighting and I got maybe 5 frames total out of 600 with nice lightning strikes.  But I am very happy with those images.

The image you see here was shot with a 15mm lens and is cropped in a great bit.  I wanted the wide angle to give me the best chance of catching some lighting.  The image is so crisp that cropping allowed me a nice image without losing quality.

There is something metaphorical about watching two storms spit lightning at each other over a town named Happy.  Honestly, it was one of the most delightful sunsets I have watched.  The storms and the lightning along with the magical glow and nostalgic skyline of Happy Texas created a wonderful vibe.

For me, the camera is better than any physical therapist.  It pushes me to go and look and as far as depression, the ability to see what is beautiful in the world is one of the greatest gifts my lens has given me.  But the lesson I have learned is I don’t need my camera to do either of that.  One of the most powerful anti-depressants I have found in my life is to take either 15 minutes in the morning or 15 minutes at night and watch, really sit silently and watch the sunrise or sunset.  We rush so much, to sit still for 15 minutes can seem daunting.  But the value of quieting the mind, well if you don’t know, I suggest you try it.  Watching that bit of beauty play out in the universe kind of reset my emotional clock and reminded my problems are small, the Universe is big and beautiful, and beauty abounds in the middle of life’s storm if we only take a minute to look.

If you would like to this image it is available HERE!

And on a side note, if you are looking for a wide-angle lens, I strongly suggest giving Irix a look.  Modestly priced, good quality and great images.  I am very impressed.  To find out more about Irix go HERE.