One Year Later

Well, it’s been a whole year since I started this journey and I haven’t faltered or looked back yet. Hooray! I’ve kept up my blog posts (averaging 2.5 a month, which I’m really happy with). I’ve posted relatively regularly to my 500px gallery and my instagram (nathan_chester). I’ve written a lot, but still not finished anything, which bugs me. I’ve done some courses in photography and Photoshop that have really improved my skills.

All in all, it’s been a successful year though without any dramatic advancement. I’ve left the stifling and total security of my house and crossed the backyard, but I haven’t yet ventured very far under the eaves of the wild, creative forest. I am inching closer and that’s the goal for the next year–to be more adventurous, more dedicated and invest more of myself into this journey.

I’ve posted the photo below as an expression of how far I’ve come and as a promise to my future. I almost didn’t get this shot because I was standing safely on the beach, clicking away. When that egret landed in the water, I didn’t think twice about slogging through 100 metres of thick, slippery, above-the-ankles tidal mud to get close enough for the photo. A year ago, I probably wouldn’t even have taken a chance and headed to the coast for the possibility of a sunset like that. The future is bright (but with good contrast and properly exposed highlights).

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Tense atmosphere

Storm season again in Brisbane has put me back onto my storm chasing story. Reading back over my planning, I’m actually really excited about this story. I feel that it will work really well. It has a lot of great elements that will, with enough work, go together to create a great narrative.

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I’ve been caught in a couple of the big storms recently and for this story I want to capture the tension of the season–of always having the weather hanging over your head, no matter what you are doing and where you are. I want to capture the reluctance to drive anywhere in the afternoon in case your car gets wrecked by hail; the drama and excitement of a severe storm impacting the city and totally disrupting routine and timetables; the nagging fear that you may not have a house to go home to at the end of the day.

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It’s one thing to chase storms but quite another, I’ve discovered, to watch a rotating updraft base form right over your house. That’s probably the best place for it, all things considered, because that means it’s unlikely to cause damage before it moves on. But the ominous swirling clouds, the deadly stillness on the ground, the oppressive heat and the faint hail roar are enough to trigger a very primitive awe and fear. And that sort of tension is gold for a story.

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Begone, foul fiend!

The gritty, grey Demon of Daejobb has been winning lately. I haven’t done any writing and, up until a few days ago, almost no photography. It’s busy at work at the moment and the longer hours are making me too tired to do much other than watch TV in the evenings. Which is a crappy excuse, but there you go.

I got sick of feeling like I wasn’t doing anything creative the other day and decided to strike a blow for the Angels of Art by joining Instagram.

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By its nature Instagram takes away the good old ‘lack of time’ excuse. It’s instant. You see a cool scene, you take a photo (I carry my phone everywhere), you create something beautiful and post it online. Easy, fast, creative, fun.

Not only that, Instagram opens up my photography to a huge new audience. I already have an unrelated follower (i.e. not friend or family), which is very exciting. It feels like a validation that my photography is actually decent and not simply people I know being polite.

And just like that, the Demon’s shadow lifted and I’m feeling alive again. I was even a couple of minutes late to work the other day because I stopped to take a photo of the sky. Take that, Demon!

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A speckled sky. #sky #clouds #sun #weather

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The Zen of storm chasing

Time is the inhale and exhale of the sky.
The sky breathes in.
Your destination is wherever the wind blows.
The sky breathes in.
The endless flat earth rolls past on the curve of the horizon.
The sky breathes in.
Traverse and chart the lost and scattered dreams and faded stories.
The sky breathes in.
Form is your food, colour is your air, texture is your drink, discovery is your rest.
The sky explodes.
Clouds and cu and light and rain and wind and storm and hail and in and out and core and tails and walls and scud and spin and run and run and run and run and catch the lightning.
The sky breathes in.


Surprisingly, storm chasing in real life is not like it is in the movies or those TV shows. For some reason they leave out all the days where there’s nothing to chase and the hours and hours spent just driving, instead focussing more on flying cows and people over-dramatically screaming at the camera. To be honest, I didn’t see any of that. I did, however, see some amazing storms, some incredible landscapes, some beautiful abandoned buildings and even a couple of tornadoes.

As exciting as it sounds, for me, storm chasing was incredibly relaxing. I think it’s because the life of a storm chaser is so far from my normal existence. Not being any kind of meteorologist, I chose to go on an organised tour. (You’d be crazy to try it on your own, with or without meteorological experience, because it is dangerous – driver fatigue could get you even before you see a storm.) As with any vacation tour, having everything organised for you is a nice break from real life. But I chose the Jim Reed Tornado Photo Tour with Tempest Tours (highly recommend these guys). So for two whole weeks, the weather and photography were the only things I thought about. No work, no commute, no computer, no books – just pure creativity and the awesome, random power of nature.

 

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