Eyes on the enterprise

A tribute to Carlye Calvin’s 26 years of photographing NCAR/UCP/UCAR

January 3, 2014 | Few people have seen as wide a spectrum of our institution’s activities as Carlye Calvin. She joined the High Altitude Observatory in 1987 and soon became part of the former NCAR Photographics group. By the late 1990s, she was the organization's sole staff photographer.

Carlye Calvin
Carlye Calvin in one of her favorite places: the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (Photo courtesy Marian Bruno.)

Among Carlye's many honors was a first-place award in the commercial division of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Professional Photographers of America’s 1994 photo contest. She also shared “best of show” (first place) honors at the regional and international level from the Society of Technical Communications for several UCAR Highlights reports produced in the 1990s and 2000s.

Now officially retired, Carlye is nurturing her creative side in fresh ways (including hosting photo safaris) and working on freelance gigs. You may also see her on site every so often, documenting special events as a casual employee.

Below are a few of Carlye’s favorite images—along with her own reflections—from her many years of photographing our people and activities in Boulder and beyond.

Photo exhibit and reception

A selection of Carlye’s images that reveal the aesthetics of the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center is now on display at the Mesa Library. All staff are invited to join Carlye for an art reception/retirement party in the ML lobby from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Friday, 10 January.


Clouds photographed during T-REX field project near Bishop, CA, spring 2006

“This photo was taken during the T-REX field project near Bishop, California, in spring 2006. Every morning I woke up before sunrise and headed out to the Sierra Nevada mountains to try to capture the mountain waves and rotor clouds that were the main focus of the research. I took this photo at about 6:30 a.m. one morning and was lucky enough to capture the flight of a great blue heron with the rotor clouds in the background.” 

Joach Kuettner, photographed 2009

“I have taken hundreds of portraits of scientists and others over the years, but I think my favorite portrait experience was photographing Joach Kuettner [the late UCAR Distinguished Chair for Atmospheric Science and International Research] in honor of his 100th birthday in 2009. The results show his intelligence, kindness, resiliency, and gentle nature.”


Scientist at OASIS field project near Barrow, AK

“Documenting field projects is always a challenge—trying to capture the story behind the science, not really knowing what the conditions would be like, hoping to be in the right place at the right time. One of my biggest challenges was photographing the 2009 OASIS field project in Barrow, Alaska. At temperatures of –36°F, my camera would screech in pain as it tried to focus. Since the camera batteries would only last about 15 minutes before the camera died in the extreme cold, I placed hand warmers in my camera bag to help keep the camera warm. I absolutely loved the adventure!”


Bald eagle
“On my way back from Barrow, Alaska, during the OASIS field project, I took some time off for a weekend in Anchorage and photographed this eagle during a snowstorm near Sewell.”
Severe thunderstorm during VORTEX2 field project in northwest OK, May 19, 2010
“This photo was taken in northwest Oklahoma on May 19, 2010, during the second year of the VORTEX2 field project. This was a particularly picturesque storm that the researchers and many storm chasers were following. You can see this image covering almost an entire wall in the weather exhibit at the Mesa Lab.”

Children with lightning exhibit at Super Science Saturday, October 2009
“I have photographed every Super Science Saturday event to date. Not only have I performed at some of the events with the marimba band I belong to, but I’ve felt like a kid in a candy shop snapping photos of truly engaged and excited kids at all of the wonderful exhibits and demonstrations. These two girls were totally intrigued with the lightning exhibit."

Altocumulus at sunset above Anthes Building
“Over the years I have photographed all of the various UCAR facilities in many different lighting situations and from all different angles. Here is a photo I took of the Anthes Building one evening when the altocumulus clouds and the glow of sunset light on the building were particularly gorgeous.”


Formosan rock macaque, Taiwan
“During the 2008 TIMREX field project in Taiwan, I took a side trip with a couple of scientists to Monkey Mountain, just outside of Kaohsuing. The Formosan rock macaques were very accommodating and would even snatch objects right out of your hand if you weren’t paying attention.”


Yellowstone supercomputer, NWSC, Cheyenne, WY, 2011

“My first photo shoot at NWSC was the groundbreaking in June 2010. I’ve gone back numerous times since to capture the facility in various stages of development, including the installation of the computers. In this photo, I used a fisheye lens to try to provide a more creative look at Yellowstone.”


Gulfstream V aircraft, Anchorage, AK, during HIPPO project, 2011
“In June 2011, when I met up with the final phase of the HIPPO field project in Anchorage, Alaska, there were many opportunities for taking creative shots of the Gulfstream V. I lay down on the tarmac with my camera positioned on the ground to take this photo. I particularly liked the colors and the reflections on the tarmac."

NCAR scientist Julie Haggerty with intern Kelly Shick (Monarch HS)

“Every summer, I would find myself racing around on every campus, trying to capture all of the exciting activity surrounding the influx of summer students and their mentors. This photo was taken in 2010 at the Research Aviation Facility in Broomfield. It shows Julie Haggerty [EOL] at right with intern Kelly Schick [from Monarch High School in Louisville] at left. Kelly was a participant in what is now the Spark Pre-College Internship Program.”

Imagery of raindrops on car windshield

“Part of my job at NCAR/UCP/UCAR included photographing the weather. Whether it’s storm chasing, plowing through five feet of snow, braving a lightning storm, or taking photos through the windshield of my car, I am always trying to find a creative approach. During this raging rainstorm, I focused my camera on the raindrops on my windshield, allowing the vehicles outside to be out of focus. By the way, you can tell from the red light above the taxi that we were at a stop light when I took this photo!”

Sunrise launch preparation, Kiruna, Sweden, 2009

“Photographing the balloon launch during the first Sunrise field project in 2009 in Kiruna, Sweden was one of the highlights of my career. The goal was to use a huge balloon to deploy a solar telescope at an altitude of 120,000 feet. The scientists, engineers, and technicians who had worked for years on this project were both nervous and excited about the final stages of the mission. This photo shows the gondola suspended from the launch vehicle during the wee hours of the morning. The actual balloon launch was both nail-biting and breathtaking, and you could hear the roars of excitement from everyone present as it ascended successfully.”

Lenticular clouds above Nederland, CO

“On my way home from work one evening, I came around the corner of Barker Dam in Nederland and spotted these magnificent lenticular clouds. A couple years later, the U.S. Post Office selected this photo for a first class stamp in their Cloudscapes stamp series, which was released in 2004. I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that it had been chosen for more than a year after I found out, which wasn’t easy!”