NCAR and UCAR are fortunate to have a number of highly talented photographers on staff, several of whom use their knowledge of the earth and the atmosphere to capture stunning natural images. This month, Staff Notes Monthly profiles four photographers. Caspar Ammann (CGD), Vanessa Carney (JOSS), and Jim Hannigan (ACD) are major contributors to UCAR's Digital Image Library, a collection of images portraying atmospheric science that will be posted on the Web early next year. Veteran photographer Greg Thompson (RAP) has sold images to several publications.
These profiles are just a sampling of the talent in the organization. We plan to highlight the work of additional photographers in coming issues. All photos are copyrighted by the photographer or UCAR/NCAR/NSF.
|Southern skies. (Photo by Caspar Ammann.)|
|Solar eclipse. (Photo by Caspar Ammann.)|
Caspar's portfolio includes a scientific cloud atlas and striking photos of volcanoes and skies. He captured the southern skies at night with a six-hour exposure while doing fieldwork in Chile. "You can see the stars make almost a quarter of a turn around the South Pole," he says. "The picture shows the absolute brilliance of the sky over the desert of South America. You can see every detail."
He photographed a partial solar eclipse in Switzerland in May 1994, capturing clouds as well as the sun. "It was very close to sunset, so the sun was not overly bright," he recalls.
Caspar's goal in photography? "I am looking forward to taking a
picture of our baby." He and his wife, Emily CoBabe, are
expecting their first child in December.
|Caspar Ammann. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)|
|Vanessa Carney. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)|
Vanessa still remembers getting her first camera at the age of six from her grandmother. Her father didn't let her early photographic mistakes get her down. "The pictures would come back with people's heads cut off or flowers that were blurry," Vanessa recalls. "But my father always said they were really good." She took photography classes in high school, set up a darkroom in her basement with her brother, and eventually began capturing high-quality images with a Nikon F camera that her father gave her, as well as a Nikon N70.
Vanessa looks for the unusual in landscapes. "My eyes will
catch a certain odd shadow or color or just a weird formation,
and I think that's a really cool shot," she says. "I like to
think I see certain aspects of images that people don't see,
and I want them to see what I see."
|Coral. (Photo by Vanessa Carney.)|
|Arch. (Photo by Vanessa Carney.)|
|ACD's Jim Hannigan (left) took this picture of the aurora borealis while traveling in Canada in April.|
Jim became interested in photography as a teenager, when he started to develop black-and-white pictures in a home darkroom. Since beginning to travel for NCAR to such remote places as Antarctica, he has learned to pack along his camera. "I just make a point to always carry it with me and take a lot of photos of the interesting places I am fortunate to go to," he says. On a recent airborne project to study tropospheric ozone in the Arctic, Jim shot more than 35 rolls.
He has taken some of his best pictures when on vacation. Jim snapped the picture of lava in January when he and his wife, Wendy Saemisch-Hannigan, visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park during their tenth wedding anniversary. In April, he captured an unusually magnificent display of the aurora borealis outside a hut in British Columbia owned by the Alpine Club of Canada. "It was dominating the sky," says Jim, who used a 20-second exposure to capture the phenomenon. "It was one of those rare events where at different times it filled the whole sky. There was a full moon at the same time, which made it even more spectacular."
|Jim Hannigan. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)|
|Lava. (Photo by Jim Hannigan.)|
At a recent meeting of the Boulder chapter of the American Meteorological Society, Greg presented an impressive collection of photos of clouds, rainbows, lightning, tornadoes, and sunsets. He stressed a number of basic rules for aspiring photographers, such as learning one's neighborhood in order to incorporate church steeples and other interesting objects into pictures of the sky (the objects can also be used to block out sunlight), and taking as many vertical as horizontal pictures. He also urged the use of graduated neutral density filters, which can create more even lighting in high-contrast situations. But, he added: "I certainly advise occasionally breaking rules."
|Fall aspen. (Photo by Greg Thompson.)|
Even when Greg hasn't been able to capture severe weather with his Pentax cameras (including an old K1000 and his newer PZ-1P and 645N), he picks out something of interest. While taking wildflower pictures during a recent trip to Texas, he couldn't get a shot of a storm-filled sky over a flower-filled meadow because the skies were clear for several days. Instead, he took a photograph of a sign that read: "Storm's" the name of a Texas fast-food restaurant. The moral? "Look for humor."
Edited by David Hosansky,
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall
Last revised: Thu Dec 20 16:57:22 MST 2001