2017 Through the Lens of Jason Weingart
2017 was an absolutely incredible year. I was fortunate enough to witness some unbelievable storms, stunning landscapes, and even crossed a few phenomenon off my list including the Total Solar Eclipse and Northern Lights!
Our workshops had tremendous turn out throughout the year. Starting out with two early Spring astrophotography workshop, which were completely sold out in Terlingua, Texas. There we kept guests up until dawn to witness the spectacle that is the Milky Way rising in the Big Bend desert.
As April wore on and the flowers began to fade, storm chasing season was upon us. Starting off with seeing three tornadoes in the Canton, Texas area on April 29th (my birthday), we ended up seeing fourteen tornadoes by the time the sun set on May 19th. The second half of May was unusually quiet, but we still saw a ton of mesmerizing supercells. We chased storms in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, and Missouri.
With storm chasing workshops still in full swing we headed to the Northern Plains and chased supercells across Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Huge thank you to my wife, Savannah, who lead a second tour vehicle for two full workshops and drove every mile of the way for each one. Also a big thanks to Matt Phelps, Sarah Williams, Sid Smith, and Brandon Feister for assisting in giving our tour groups exciting and safe adventures.
These adventures went so well that we have added three additional adventures for 2018, with 5 and 7 day options in addition to 3 day.
As soon as Spring storms began to subside, it was back to Terlingua in June for a summer astrophotography workshop. Once in a blue moon Savannah and I get to do something nice purely for ourselves. We stayed at The Rock House, west of Lajitas for a day before this workshop. The back patio overlooked the Rio Grande, which was basically directly beneath us. We could literally throw a stone into Mexico,. We were even treated to a storm before two nights of crystal clear skies for the workshop.
We took the kids with us to Tennessee to watch the Total Solar Eclipse. I honestly can not even put into words how phenomenal it was to see this celestial event. Texas gets an annular eclipse in 2023 and a total eclipse in 2024. Think I'm going to start setting up those workshops soon. Huge thanks to Sarah Williams and Matt Phelps for helping find a location.
On the drive home from the eclipse, Hurricane Harvey emerged off the Yucatan and set its sights on the Texas coast. With barely time to unpack, I headed towards the coast with Brandon Ivey, where we chased the eye wall across the Corpus area with Matt Phelps. Once the storm headed off to the east, we headed home.
Then all hell broke loose in Houston. Savannah's dad, Aaron Williams Sr., called me up and said "Jason I got a boat, let's go help out in Houston!" I looked at Savannah as if to say, "I have to do this." She said, "Go". Next thing I know we are heading towards Houston with a 20 foot john boat in tow. Savannah and her friend, Jodi Mair assisted us from home, trying to help talk to people trapped in flood waters and putting us into contact with the Cajun Navy. Those two days there were filled with some of the scariest moments of our lives. I didn't do much in the way of shooting. While I never pulled out a DSLR in Houston. I found time to do a quick live broadcast and strapped a GoPro to my head as we ventured across an 80 foot deep flooded sinkhole. Special thanks to the Bleyzer family for giving us a hot shower and warm beds to stay in during our time there. Your hospitality was overwhelmingly generous. It was nice to help and make a difference for some people. I wish we could have done more.
Can't forget another stop in Terlingua for one more astrophotography workshop.
After a very busy spring and summer, I was fortunate enough to have three months mostly off work to spend time with my family. While it is tough being gone for sometimes long stretches, this is one of the best perks of my job, for the better part of August through February, it's mostly local and online obligations. This year, we went all out crazy for Halloween with our front yard. We easily had 500 trick-or-treaters and our house was the place to be. We blew through 20 bags of candy before we knew it.
I ended my year leading a winter adventure across Iceland to shoot the Northern Lights and Geminid Meteor Shower. My good friend Matt Phelps helped keep our guests safe on some downright treacherous roads. Weather was a factor, forecasting experience enabled us to work around the clouds and storm systems for several terrific aurora displays. I am contemplating a return trip in 2018, maybe a few months earlier this time.