I have no idea what a hurricane or tornado is like. I only have footage from television to inform me on this count.
So when Astra invited Movie Lass and I along to an artist’s talk at the Annenberg Space for Photography exhibit titled Extreme Exposure we decided to go and were fascinated by Mike Thiess’s presentation and commentary as a photographer and videographer of hurricanes and tornadoes.
We heard the story of how he documents these massive storms to show people why they should be evacuating and he gets right in to the eyewall so as to get the full brunt of the weather conditions rather than the relatively ‘gentle breezes’ of the outer zones where most film crews are getting their news footage after going through a major hurricane as a teenager in Florida.
We saw so many photos and video clips of hurricanes, the before, the during and the after, however I was most in awe of the tornadoes. The photographs of tornadoes are incredibly beautiful and totally blew my mind with the colours and contrasts and cloud formations. However seeing photos of Greensburg, Kansas tornado in 2007 where the entire town was torn apart and flattened, and seeing trees that looked like they’d gone through a mulcher had a great impact on me in terms of the severity and relentlessness of these storms. I don’t know how I could live in tornado alley where this type of threat is always a possibility.
In Australia we’ve had our share of major disasters this year with the floods in Queensland and Victoria and the cyclone in Northern Queensland, but for me, coming from a town where the major storm events are massive red dust storms and irregular floods, the idea of such strong winds is really foreign. But I now have a much greater appreciation for them.