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Oklahoma tornadoes: Nebraska photographer tells story behind tornado photos he took May 31

Omaha World-Herald photographer Chris Machian was in Oklahoma City covering the Nebraska softball team at the Women's College World Series. Friday evening, he took photos of a killer tornado near El Reno and Union City.
BY LEIGHANNE MANWARREN lmanwarren@opubco.com Modified: June 4, 2013 at 5:57 pm •  Published: June 4, 2013
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Omaha World-Herald photographer Chris Machian was in Oklahoma City to cover the Nebraska softball team at the Women's College World Series on Friday when he decided to go storm searching.

Machian soon found himself south of a massive tornado system ripping through Canadian County.

“I have never seen a tornado before,” he said. “It was exactly where I thought it was, exactly where they said it was. You don't really think; you just shoot at that point. I had to stop several times to look up and above me and around me to make sure there wasn't anything else sneaking up on me.”

Using a 300 mm telephoto lens on his Canon 1Dx that he used to photograph softball, Machian took photos at a distance that he said he felt he could get away safely if the tornado turned.

“I saw the big one come down first, photographed that one, and then some smaller ones came down after that pretty much out of the same storm,” Machian said.

“I couldn't really grasp the scale. I mean you can see some buildings in the background but when you have a telephoto you kind of compress space. I knew it was a safe enough distance from me, but I couldn't tell how big it was.”

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