Still Photographs, Video, or Both?

Still Photographs, Video, or Both?

  • Still Photographs

    Votes: 29 22.5%
  • Video

    Votes: 8 6.2%
  • Both

    Votes: 92 71.3%

  • Total voters
Chasing preference: Still pictures, video, or both?

My first couple of years chasing, I used a 35mm SLR with Fuji Velvia (I still do) and a video camera. During the 6/29/99 chase in the Texas Panhandle, my video and tripod were knocked down by the RFD, destroying the camera (entertaining video though….you see the funnel touching down, then the tripod began to tip over, followed by a string of expletives before the video stops). I never replaced the video camera, and I’ve focused exclusively on still photography since that day. I love storm footage, but I can’t say that I regret the decision to not replace the video camera. I feel that I can get more, better still photos if that is my concentration. I know many people would much rather shoot video than stills, and that there are plenty of chasers who are very good at both. I am just curious to hear your preferences and why.
I really love still photography but if you're interesteed in making money, video is the way to go. The networks love the action shots and they either want to see damage being done or intense roation at the surface. I don't want to advocate getting really close and I don't advise it but thats the truth.
I use both for my storm events. I have a Canon Eos K2 Rebel SLR Film and kodak Easyshare camera along with a JVC camcorder DV. Upon opening this Topic I was thinking you were asking about Still Photography and video frame grabs and the comparrison between both. The Only High quality frame grabs Ive been able to achieve are from a Sony DSC-P100 Digital camera. Its amazing the quality I get from video grabbing from this camera. The quality is worthless with the Camcorder and Easyshare Video Files. Not sure what everybody else uses, maybe another topic to ask...

I personally dont sell my footage, was never in it for the money. Its all passion for myself and showing the photos off for fun. These days you really havta spend a good amount of money on equipment just to qualify for Income Considerations. For me, I'll leave it to the pro's.

I voted for both, two days ago I would have said just video but buying a new Rebel has altered my opinion; however when it comes down to it the video camera is going to be the first thing I reach for and the only one I reach for if time doesn't allow for both. Pictures are great to have around hang on the wall but they don't allow me to relive the event like watching the film does, video is also better for sharing with others friends and family as it allows them the oppurtunity to feel as if though they were there.
Still photography; transparency film.

I only shoot video as an extra, particularly if something is wildly in motion, particularly in the Plains. Then I'll do both.
I really love still photography but if you're interesteed in making money, video is the way to go. The networks love the action shots and they either want to see damage being done or intense roation at the surface. I don't want to advocate getting really close and I don't advise it but thats the truth.

Oh, I wouldn't say that's entirely the case. I think you can make good money with photography. You couldn't LIVE off it, but I doubt you could live off of video, either. (Fair disclosure: I don't know if it compares to what you can make with video or not -- I've never done storm video :).) With photography, I think you could maybe recover the cost of chasing and your equipment cost over time. From gleaning the lists and forums over the past couple years, it seems the video segment has really heated up -- to the point that chasers are seriously underbidding each other and driving down the market price of video. The thing about videography is that if the subject is interesting enough (a tornado exploding a barn while cows and ostriches orbit it), it doesn't really matter if the technique isn't entirely down -- shaky video of that kind of thing is still awesome to watch and I'm sure someone would pay for it. On the other hand, when you screw up photographic technique, you usually don't end up with anything that anyone would want to buy. Nobody wants that big smudge of a photo that you swear is a tornado exploding a barn with cows and ostriches orbiting it. So there's a kind of "filter" there for the photographers -- it's a lot harder to create an interesting photograph than it is to create an interesting video. I can probably count on two hands (with a few fingers to spare) the number of really good storm photographers out there that I know of. The demand for really good storm photography is strong enough that those people probably don't go home with empty pockets... and they have the added luxury of not needing to chase after the local media a half hour after the storm is over to get on the 11 o'clock news! :)
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I really love still photography but if you're interesteed in making money, video is the way to go. The networks love the action shots and they either want to see damage being done or intense roation at the surface. I don't want to advocate getting really close and I don't advise it but thats the truth.

Sean is correct, video is the way to go ;) .

I personally do both, since it is really pretty simple.
I used to do both, but have turned my focus to photography ever since I got the D70 two years ago. I think it's the artistic side in me... video for me is a lost art, and I have lost the passion for it. I actually made more money on the side licensing a few photos here and there than I ever have with video. Going this route also allows me to chase more "secondary targets" away from the hordes as well as more subtle chase setups in hopes for that unique shot
I went with both, but I personally prefer taking stills...I just get more satisfaction out of it. I am not anywhere near as good a photographer as some on the list, but there is just something about being able to freeze a moment in time that peaks my interest more than video. Having said that, I do enjoy going back and watching the video, especially when some of the smaller details have escaped my memories. Unfortunately, most of my chase partners over the years really lived for the moment, so a lot of the video we shot is collecting dust in closets. That's another reason I lean towards stills...I can grab any shot I took whenever I want and at least relive a brief moment in time as opposed to trying to track down an old tape that may not even exist anymore.


I am in the state of mind that when you predict or assume a storm is going to tornado or atleast go severe, then it is worth documenting to it's fullest. Not so much just the action that we all live for (which offers the best photographic potential) but the birth of the storm and it's eventual maturity, for these beginning stages I prefer video. Video is AWESOME for timelapse work and pictures of the chase can be artistically edited into the video.

With my Panasonic miniDV and brand-new Kodak P-712, I will be doing both this upcoming season!

My youtube video shows some of my storm video and timelapse work synched with a friends song.
Set up the video and let it run from when we stop until we load up again. I usually don't fool with it.
Then grab the camera and focus (ha ha) on the still photography.
I love the beauty of a spectacular moment captured in a single photo. And I relish the challenge of capturing that moment well, not that I personally am good at it; I have a lot to learn. Getting into position for such a shot is a tremendous challenge. But the difficulty of actually getting a well done artistic photo in such a time-sensitive setting with all the adrenaline and changing conditions multiplies the challenge. I have the utmost respect for those of you who are truly gifted in this.

However, I answered "both" for two reasons:

1. I have the luxury of chasing with three other enthusiasts who shoot the video while I concentrate on photography (is this cheating for this pole?)

2. Stills do not always document clearly what is actually happening. Just because the storm's structure depicted in a still appears to be rotating or just because a lowering looks impressive does not mean it was a wall cloud/funnel/tornado. How many posts on this board have been started with a title something like "Is This A Tornado...What's Your Opinion?" Not to take anything away from those posts, but video that clearly displays said event is harder to argue with.
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In support of stills let me add this: When it comes to lightning, I prefer a nice clean still shot with those crisp channels, especially when the CG contact point is relatively nearby. I'll take one of those shots 90+% of the time over what is typically captured on video of the same event. High speed has its place, but most video I see is "soft" and often has that ghost imaging that occurs with strokes on some frames.
I still shoot old fashioned SLR stills (I know I should upgrade to digital, but the cameras are a bit "technical" for my taste. One of these days, I'll probably make the change) and I tend to keep the vid going from the time I leave home until I get back (makes for one tedious editing job at times). The one thing I've got to remember...zoom in more.
I use a digital camera, but can then go through the video and snap a photo of anything i see in there. This way, I can capture the EXACT frame I like, print it out, or have it sent to just about anywhere in three minutes. It's amazing the technology today. Last year, while storm chasing NW Alabama, I videotaped, snapped, downloaded, and sent to my office, and they saw the still prints within 5 minutes of what I was chacing...awesome. Video is more compelling, but still shots leave a LOT of room for peoples own imagination of just what may have, could have, or DID happen. So....BOTH.
I like to put the video camera on the tripod, let it shoot, and then snap off some still shots. It's nice to have both to go back to.

The 8MP high resolution shots can be processed to bring out rain obscured features that you may not have seen well.

The video can also reveal some things you may not have noticed. For instance, on Sept 16th I went back and saw that before the first tornado along I-90 had touched down there were two quick multi-vortex swirls that whipped up suddenly.
Also as the tornado was cranking in the field my video captured a satellite horizontal vortex in the wallcloud that we hadn't noticed before. It's nice to go back and review what was happening too fast to take it all in at once.
I do both. A lot of the time however, I'll get caught up in taking video and wont take as many picturs as I woud like to. However, since I've started using tripod video more, I'm getting better at taking a lot more pictures.
I only shoot stills right now. I'm holding off on video until I can afford to go HD. With Vista just hitting the shelves, very expensive early generations of HD camcorders on the market, and editing software that's barely keeping up with those camcorders--not to mention the computing horsepower required to edit HD--it'll probably be at least another year or two before shooting HD becomes practical for me from both a recording and editing standpoint.
I'd like to do both a bit more, but my still camera is lacking at best. I also am working on a mostly video project this spring, so I'm naturally more drawn that way (along with the one other person who voted for video). When I get a new still camera, which will most likely be a digital SLR, I'd go with both. But I'd rather have good video right now than a good still just for what I'm working on, :D
along with the one other person who voted for video

I was the other one who voted for video. IMO I think the video camera is a better way to capture what is really going on. I mean you can hear the wind, and see the motion in the cloud or tornado. You can catpure hail and lightning easier with a video camera. I also chose video camera because my dad John O'Keeffe, he does all the photography while I do the video camera, so I guess I've just become more attached (I guess you could say) with the video camera.

I've been filming storms since I was 6 years old, so I have much more expierence with video camera as well.
As expected, I'm in the overwhelming minority on this poll. Being a purely video guy, I'm rapidly becoming a novelty in the chasing world. There's just something about motion I can't get over.
IMO you have to be really good at photography and have the 'eye' for it to make it worthwhile to spend thousands on a body and lenses. That I am not, so I stick to video which is something I am better at and enjoy more. It would make no sense for me to spend over $2000 on a good DSLR setup any more than it would make sense for me to go down to the art store and buy an expensive easel, canvas, brushes and paint.

I own a humble point-and-shoot for those rare times I do take stills. It usually doesn't do well with tornadoes anyway - zoom in at all and the image is blurry. The times I've stopped videoing to take stills I'd just wished I would have kept the video going.
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