The taxonomist in me can't help but notice that photographs of Hurricane Sandy, now bearing down on the Atlantic coast, fall into distinct categories. So I've made a helpful guide to 10 common storm images, complete with identification tips.
1. The Satellite Overview
Diagnostic traits: white, swirly, often accompanied by a NOAA stamp. You wouldn't be able to take these with your cell phone. Unless you're an Astronaut. Which is unlikely.
2. The Rising Tide
Diagnostic traits: water in places it really shouldn't be. If you look out your window and see something like this, you should probably think about moving to higher ground.
3. The Concerned Politician
Diagnostic traits: furrowed brows, telephones, bureaucrats. I'd give the above looks-of-concern 7 out of 10.
4. The Oddly Empty
Diagnostic traits: whatever the venue- subway stations, roads, grocery store shelves- it's got an unsettling amount of open space. If you're a storm photographer averse to doing anything dangerous, here's your genre.
5. The Intrepid Journalist
Diagnostic traits: expensive equipment, windswept clothing, general chaos. High potential for self-inflicted damage.
6. The SandBag
Diagnostic traits: Preparatory barriers and supplies, often with neighbors pitching in to help, or a child and/or family pet waiting for the storm. The pinnacle of this genre would be neighbors laying sandbags under a dark, stormy sky while a kid and her dog stand by.
7. The Obligatory Wind Shot
Diagnostic traits: Objects more sideways than usual. These scenes sometimes attract Intrepid Journalists.
8. The "Are you insane?"
Diagnostic traits: subjects apparently unaware there's a hurricane going on.
9. The #Instacane
Diagnostic traits: Artful vignetting, hashtags in the caption, may be interspersed in a social media stream with moody photos of food.
10. The Wreckage
Diagnostic traits: Trees where houses should be, houses where trees should be, unruly debris.
**Update. And how could I miss:
11. The Blatant Fake
On a more serious note: if you are in the path of this hurricane, please be careful! Pay attention to official advice and act accordingly.