Cliffs of Insanity

Despite my absolute love for stormchasing, lightning and severe weather…a simple drive out to the Superstition Mountains before dawn when there is only a bit of rainy clouds in the forecast…can be just as beautiful and inspiring.

I love the awesomeness of a lightning storm. The adrenaline when I’m trying to get to a good spot for a tripod setup.

The morning I took this photograph wasn’t like that. It was relaxing. Lazy. Rolling clouds, some rain in the distance…but nothing thrilling or exciting. Yet I ended up having just as much fun as I usually do. I don’t believe I have ever been out on the Apache Trail before as the sun comes up. It was magical.

With a day predicted to have rain, you don’t even know for sure if the drive out there will reward you with a sunrise because the clouds could definitely block out any light. But not on this day. The clouds kind of rolled in after the sun was up…and the light and shadows were magnificent.

On a total side topic…this was my first day out with the 5D Mark II. I only had a 2gb card because the others I ordered hadn’t arrived yet. The RAW size is around 21-25mb, so the card could only hold around 60 images. Since most of the time I shoot six brackets per scene…I only had roughly 10 total shots I could take.

So of course I took my laptop with so I could dump photos to it as the morning progressed. Solution to the problem.

And of course I left the USB cable at home…so I couldn’t do anything. Problem remained.

I have to say…it ended up being an interesting experiment. What brackets were actually not worth keeping in exchange for a new scene I just found? Was the new scene better or worse than what I already had? Was I going to cry because I deleted one road shot for another?

I was a nice exercise in self-control. Usually we just fire off millions of shots during a photowalk or excursion like this (and I’m not saying we shouldn’t, I certainly wont stop), but it did teach me to take a bit of pause and make absolutely certain this was a shot I wanted.

ON YET ANOTHER NOTE, check out my guest blog post over on Justin Balog’s blog, Light as Magic! Thanks for asking me Justin to be a part of your Out the Front Door series…was a blast to write!

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, 50mm 1.4, iso100, f/10)

  • Heath O’Fee

    Fantastic play of light and shadow in this image. Very nicely done, man.

  • James Brandon

    Killer shot Mike. I love your B&W work and this is no exception.

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  • Dave Wilson

    As ever, you’ve done a lovely job on this scene, Mike. The foreground and sky detail are beautifully balanced and the overall tone is great.

  • Jim Denham

    Wonderfully done Mike! Great shadows and cloud formations!

  • Jesse

    I cant get enough of these sky dominating desert landscapes. I really like the B&W conversion as well.

  • Justin

    No sweat Mike! It was a very cool read. I love where you went with it.

  • Brian Matiash

    Perfect tone and framing here, man. Love it. Epic sky.

  • Chris Kenison

    Very well done! You have a talent for B&W. Would be nice to know your processing steps for this. 😀

  • Sean

    Fantastic image Mike, Love your B & W processing! Thanks for sharing!

  • Mark Garbowski

    I both love and hate the equipment story, because I’ve experienced some variation of it more than once. The shot is epic.

  • Bob Lussier

    Gorgeous shot. Love the BW.

  • Steve Beal

    Awesome capture Mike. Your black and white images are inspiring!

  • Heather

    I love the Superstition Mountains. This is awesome!