Comet Pan-STARRS As Seen Over Southern Florida

Comet Pan-STARRS over Florida Everglades. March 2013

After several days dealing with high upper-level clouds and rain showers, the skies finally cleared some this evening allowing me the opportunity to get a view of the Comet Pan-STARRS over Lake Okeechobee in souther Florida.

When I first arrived I was a little concerned with a big canopy of high-level clouds streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico, but as the sunset the large area clouds shifted slightly south giving a clear open view of the western sky at dusk. At first it was hard to find the comet, but after about 10 minutes of scanning the sky the comet began to faintly shine through a very thin layer of cirrus clouds and contrails.

Comet Pan-Starrs and crescent moon.

I could barely see it with my naked eye, but looking through my telephoto lens it popped right out of the frame hanging in the sky below a beautiful crescent moon. I'm really happy I got the opportunity to see this beautiful comet after several days of clouds and poor sky conditions, and thankfully mother nature worked in my favor tonight.

Also see: Vivid Sun Halo over southern Florida on March 13, 2013.


Hutchinson Island On The Rocks - GoPro3 Black Edition

I recently picked up a "GoPro Hero3 Black Edition" for the upcoming storm season, and I wanted to test it out and get the feel of this tiny, but powerful little camera, as this is my first GoPro in my bag.

This past week I spent a few hours on the coast playing around with the camera, and I have to say I was really impressed from the beginning. Now, this is not going to be a big camera review for the GoPro3, just a fun video I shot on the south end of Hutchinson Island on the rocks at the "House of Refuge Museum" near Stuart Beach, FL.

I found that I enjoy shooting in the 2.7K and 1080 / 60P resolutions modes of the camera the most, with the "CamRaw" feature on. The CamRaw mode shoots a more flat picture style (not real raw) which makes color correction a lot more enjoyable during post-production. I did try the 720p @ 120FPS mode, but I was not pleased with the amount of noise that I would see in the shadows and overall "blocky" look to some of the shots even in decent sunlight.

Jeff Gammons capturing waves with the GoPro3The video above was completely shot at 1080/60p, and this allowed me to slow the footage down to 24p and give that nice smooth slow-motion effect of the crashing waves on the rocks. I attached the GoPro to an old monopod allowing me to lower it down into the rocks and the water from above. This wasn't the easiest when trying to keep the camera stabilized, as waves crashed into the it and the rocks all while trying to keep my balance on the on the sharp edge. 

You'll notice in a few shots that it looks a little "shaky", but then again this is just a test run with the camera for the first time at the beach. A lot still to learn. All post-production of this video was done in Adobe Premier Pro CS6, including color correction and slow-motion.

This powerful little camera won't replace my more pro Canon HD-SLR'S that I shoot with every day, but it will be the perfect "B" camera during hurricane chasing, severe weather, mobile blogging or just some fun on the water during the summer. The better sensor, lens, and shooting modes that come with the GoPro Hero3 Black Edition I think is the best choice if looking into getting one for your bag. Thumbs-up. 

I hope you enjoy my short video, because I had a lot of making it. Thanks!


Hurricane Isaac Chase Updates Florida And Gulf Coast

Below will be the main blog post that I will update during my Hurricane Isaac chase / intercept over the next several days. Today (Saturday August 25, 2012) I am departing for the Florida Keys. I plan to intercept and film Tropical Storm or Hurricane Isaac in the central and lower Keys on Sunday. Later Sunday night I plan to leave the Keys (road conditions pending) and head northbound for the second forecasted landfall of Isaac in the Florida Panhandle region for Tuesday.

You can follow my quick updates on Twitter: @StormVisuals and more detailed updates with photos and some video here on the website. Thanks! - Jeff Gammons

Latest Updates Chasing Hurricane Isaac:

Update: 8:43am CT - 8/28/12 - Made it to Gulfport, MS and now with Jim Edds. Stayed the night along the Gulf only a few miles to the west of where Jim and I filmed and survived Hurricane Katrina 7 years ago tomorrow. Very sobering to return here and still seeing the scars left by Katrina and the horror stories from local residents.

Waiting to see if Isaac gets upgraded to a hurricane at the 11am update from NHC, as Recon this morning has finally found some hurricane force winds to the east of the center. Jim and I plan to do some more scouting around the coast and revisit the Mississippi State Coliseum where we rode out and filmed the most impressive storm surge to date.

Update: 11:12pm ET - 8/26/12 - Made it back out of the Florida Keys after filming in Key West all day. Isaac brushed Key West tracking about 40 miles to the south with a few strong squalls. Now in West Palm Beach at the Turnpike Plaza looking over the latest Isaac data and forecast from the NHC. Looks like the track has once again shifted to the west closer to New Orleans, and this will add more miles to the trip. going to stop for rest after midnight and look over everything again in the early morning.

Update: 2:09pm ET - 8/26/12 - Several strong feeder-bands have move through Key West in the last hour. Nothing too bad these great Key West locals can't handle. Overall, Isaac's radar and satellite presentation has improved, but still taking some time to develop a more robust inner core. Waiting to see how close the surface circulation gets to Key West later today. Back out into the squalls to film. :-) Tropical Storm Isaac 2012

Update: 10:31pm ET - 8/26/12 - Currently sitting along the eastern beaches of Key West awaiting Tropical Storm Isaac. Isaac should make a very close or direct brush with Key West late this afternoon. Also waiting on the latest update from NHC coming up at 11am. Winds are slowly beginning to increase.

Update: 10:59pm ET - 8/25/12 - Resting for the night Keys Style for tomorrow's possible hurricane intercept of Isaac near Key West. Isaac remains a 60mph tropical storm late tonight, but expected to be near hurricane strength as it nears the lower Florida Keys on Sunday.

Update: 1:34pm ET - 8/25/12 - Currently en-route to the Florida Keys to setup for tomorrow's first U.S. landfall. Tropical Storm Isaac remains a 60mph storm moving northwest just off the northeast coast of Cuba.

Southern Florida and the Keys have already been experiencing very heavy tropical rainfall from a disturbance tracking just ahead of Isaac. This heavy rain will slow my travels into the Keys by a few hours, as traffic will be heavy coming out of the Keys tonight.

Isaac wind and rain