Hurricane Charley - Punta Gorda Florida
Friday the 14th, August 2004
Video below


If you're looking for gear to keep your still and video cameras dry then you've come to the right place.  Let me save you a lot time and money testing every gear bag out there like I did.  If you sometimes shoot in a wet environment like I do then Lowepro is for you.   What do I mean by wet?  Well, just click on the photo on the left of wicked Category 4 Hurricane Charley from Punta Gorda, FL on Friday the 13th August 2004.  Now I'm real picky about my gear.  If it's not functional and doesn't feel right I don't use it.  After several years of testing gear bags I finally took a good look at the bags to see what brands I was using.  I don't really pay much attention to brands.  Hey, if it works well, then I like it -that's what matters.  To my surprise everything was Lowepro.  In the Charley video I was using a Lowepro backpack to carry around my Sony VX-2000 and accessories.  I can grab it with one hand and sling it around my shoulders in 2 seconds and I'm off.  During the above encounter with Hurricane Charley, besides keeping my gear and precious video dry, the portability really saved my hide.  I was downtown in Punta Gorda, FL on foot looking for a good place to film this nasty hurricane.  Ok, why was I on foot?  Because it was supposed to hit Sarasota but turned at the last hour.  I made a bee-line for Punta Gorda and had to toss my well thought out intercept plan out the window.  So I get to Punta Gorda and there is no good place to hide from the wind - the town is deserted and everything is locked up!  So I found a "safe" place just outside this eye doctor's office in a little corner where the plywood meets.  When the town started coming apart I got on my knees with my tripod in front of me.  My Lowepro backpack was . . . well, on my back.  I was really squeezed in there tight because the wind was slowly shifting on me from north east to south east as the eye approached.  Here's a photo of my shooting location.  I was tucked in there right against that corner.  See that window missing most of the shutter?  That came off during a big gust and dropped right in front of me - yeah I know - a real confidence builder!  About 5 minutes after I shot that sweet video above, I packed up the camera because I knew the only chance I had of getting out of there alive was to make a run for it back to my car during the calm eye.  If I had correctly positioned myself then the eye should be coming soon.  If not, then the wind would shift more southerly sending all that debris at me and not down Highway 41.  As it was, I was already getting dirt and particulate from those plants in my eyes.  Talked about a marked man!  As the wind was roaring past me it created little vortices or mini- twisters spinning all that dirt  from those green plants in my eyes.  I couldn't see very well so I packed up the Camera into the Lowepro backpack not wanting to waste any time for when I had to run for it back to my car which was stashed away out of the wind at a local bank.  I had goggles but left them in the car unfortunately!  Now the praying began and I wished I was in a different line of work!   The winds increased another 20-25 mph suddenly if you can believe that and it got really bright.  I could feel this tremendous pressure wave hit my chest.  I'm about the size of an ant right now and wanted to crawl into the backpack for protection!  Then the winds came down to about 25-30 mph and I am in the eye.  It was so eerie but I knew seconds counted.  I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and I ran for my life!   I sprinted 200 yards around down power lines and debris everywhere back to my car.  Now how many gear bags can you haul at full speed?  Probably only this one.  Fits like a glove around my VX-2000, had plenty of pockets to put spare batteries, a polarizer, on camera light, manual, extra tapes, white balance card, and a wireless mic setup.  And it keeps everything dry to boot.   I got back to my car and the backside eyewall hit.  It blew me down face first 25 feet away.  I didn't even know it - I was too focused on jumping the curb and getting my car out of the wind around the other side of the bank.  I did a self interview around the back side of the Bank which aired on Good Morning America the following Monday. I was still pretty scared and most everything was wet - the inside of the car thanks to debris hitting the back window letting all the rain and of course I was soaked to the bone - everything except the camera thanks to Lowepro!  Check out the Good Morning America clip by clicking on the photo below.  About a year later I had to quit my boring day job.  The unique Hurricane Charley footage was just selling like hot cakes and my financial planner said I could start living my dream right now.  Basically the Charley footage was becoming my "pension plan".  So I typed up my resignation letter and gave it to the boss.  What fun that was!  I've never looked back.  The secret to life is "doing what you love" and for me that's filming Mother Nature at her worst.  Life is too short not to do what you love.  So go for it and don't forget to buy good equipment that is functional and works.  If I had had another camera bag no doubt my gear would have gotten wet and ruined my camera or it may not have even worked when I needed it for the "money shot".  I even had a tablet of notebook paper in the back zipper pocket that was dry after this ordeal.  How about that?  So take it from me and do yourself a favor and get the Lowepro gear - it works!! Right after Hurricane Charley passed a nearby film crew from CBS WFOR in Miami found me - and my Lowepro backpack.  Here's the photo:

And here is the Hurricane Charley core video