Sticks and Snow

Desert Storm Arizona Dead Tree Snow Weather

Lately the blog has been returning to more and more of my usual landscape and storm shots. We’ve had quite a few nice winter storms since December and it’s reignited my passion for this stuff. I was out last weekend a few times, and this weekend I went out Sunday morning to chase after some high desert snow, but it was a lot higher than I was hoping.

This image is from back in late December when we had daytime highs of around 36 degrees and some fun snow storms along the Beeline Highway.

One thing that helps your landscape or storm images is to have something interesting in the foreground. I can’t tell you how often that is a struggle for me. Not because the desert is devoid of interesting things, but mostly you worry about boring people to death with yet another shot of a Saguaro cactus with a storm in the background.

So when I’m out there running around, I do my best to mix things up. Find something else that will make a key element to the photo that people don’t normally get to see. That’s been a fun goal for me lately and has made me think twice about a lot of photos I might take.

Do I really need that scene? Is it a whole lot different than one I’ve shot in the past?

I loved this gnarled old tree skeleton. I’m not sure what it was when it was alive, but it was beautiful in death. The sun was lighting it up nicely against the dark, stormy clouds off in the distance. Really dug the contrast.

(exif: rebel xsi, tamron 17-35mm, 17mm, f/20, iso 100)

  • James Brandon

    simple and beautiful. another great shot Mike 🙂

  • Jerry Denham

    Boy, black and white sure does bring out the detail in those clouds. Incredible shot, Mike.

  • Scott Wood

    Great image Mike. I kept looking at the skies this weekend but didn’t have a free minute to get out and shoot.

  • Chris Jones

    Fantastic shot and BW – great work

  • John Sotiriou

    This image really portrays a sense of foreboding!

  • Toad Hollow Photography

    It’s a masterpiece Mike. I, too, LOVE photographing boiling skies in my images, and you are a big inspiration for that for me. The introduction of the natural wood elements to the scene adds a ton of drama. I love this image, my friend.

  • Chris Kenison

    Great shot, Mike! Love the contrast and how dramatic it is! Keep it up!

  • Brian Furbush

    This is awesome Mike – great tones & contrast, such a striking image.

  • Chris DeAngelis

    Another wonderful B&W shot Mike! Love the foreground element.

  • Jason Hines

    I know what you mean about finding an interesting focal point here in AZ. Things like palo verde trees just don’t work well. Great image, I love the black and white and the Beeline Highway is one of my fav drives.

  • Servalpe

    Awesome BW. I love the light and the clouds shapes !

  • Mark Blundell

    yup- great image – foreboding sky and beautiful light on the tree. Mono suits the mood very well.

  • Adam Olson

    Very nice shot! You certainly found a good foreground element for this scene.

  • Justin


    I am looking forward to the new season of storm chasing, is this a little precursor?

  • Mike

    Thanks everyone for the amazingly kind words!

    Can’t wait for summer to get here and the real storm chasing begins!