Stockton Tornado Zoom
[Part 4 of 5 -- if you came straight to this picture, please go to the beginning of this tornado for the full story.] The Stockton tornado reached its peak size and apparent intensity right here; and it was almost a miracle I was able to capture it on film. I had just changed to a 200 mm zoom lens, and (having lost the tripod clip) braced the camera atop a tilted post. I leveled the camera body with a stone I happened to have in my pocket, hand-cradled the front of the lens, and clicked away. Luckily, I didn't jiggle it! Rube Goldberg style photography worked, and this came out as my favorite personal tornado picture to date. The view with my eyeballs was even better, as the tornado's base whirled furiously while big scud chunks rotated under the wall cloud base above. Cloud tags at the bottom of the tornado took just 1-2 seconds to race in a semicircle from one side to the other. At this stage, it would probably have produced intense damage had it hit any well-built structures.
5 SSW Stockton KS (15 May 99), looking NW