When the subject of Energy was announced, I began planning my panorama. Since I live on the Gulf Coast near an area that is filled with refineries, I wanted to try for one of those. I also have a good working relationship wth the power companies and have shot pictures many times before at several power plants. And my third choice was to shoot in the hall of dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural Science representing the source of fossil fuels.
I quickly received a positive response from the power company to shoot two of their largest power plants in the area. They wanted copies for their own promotion. The shoot never happened. The museum also wanted to cooperate. They were also interested in having copies. It never happened. I had made arrangements to do both shoots on Thusday September 22. Neither shoot was to happen. I didn't realize the impact it would have the week before. But Rita was coming. I have lived in Houston for almost 50 years. I have seen hurricanes come and go. Not one had the impact that Rita did. Up until Wednesday September 21, I still had hope that I would be able to shoot my project for WWP.
But Rita had made some dramatic changes over the course of a few days. She had magnified to a category 5 hurricane. And the 3rd most powerful hurricane in recorded history. She was steering directly towards one of the largest metropolitan cities in the United States. A direct hit on Houston and Galveston was going to change our lives. Businesses shut down on Thursday so people could make plans to evacuate. Others were preparing for Rita and the aftermath. No one could have met me to shoot my pictures even if I had wanted to. And part of me still wanted to. Somewhere I read that a category 5 hurricane puts off as much energy as a 10 megaton nuclear bomb every 20 seconds. That's energy that man cannot create or control. It was enough energy to move 2.7 million people from an area, to move water inland and flood entire regions, and to flatten buildings as if they were a house of cards.
On Friday, it seemed that Rita had downsized and was moving to the East. Still a large system, and we had no idea how much wind and rain we would get. On Friday evening, the clouds began rolling in and the wind began picking up. The first signs of Rita began rolling in. A beautiful rainbow followed by a gorgeous sunset defied the weather that might follow. I stood there watching the clouds and decided that I was not going to let Rita put me off from this project. There in front of me was a small portion of one of the greatest energy sources I could imagine. Rita. I quickly shot 7 shots handheld with my fisheye lens. There was no time to set up a tripod. Then I shot one shot up and started to shoot one down. Before I could shoot my last shot, it grew darker and the wind and rain picked up. I never got my last shot. We settled inside to see what Rita would bring. For us, Rita, moved far enough east that we saw no damage. Still it changed the way we look at storms that we have lived with all of our lives.