Bucket List: Downtown Phoenix Lightning

(click to view in lightbox, a much better experience!)

Late last year, after moving to downtown Phoenix, I stumbled upon this special little parking garage when I was trying to capture a beautiful sunset one night. It’s where I shot the haboob video. I’ve been up there a bunch.

But when I first stood there, I knew I wanted to capture lightning over downtown from that very spot. It was a bucket list kind of photo that I just figured would be hard to get.

Turns out it only took a few weeks of monsoon season to make it happen!

Last night was epic. Lightning was exploding everywhere, striking at an insane clip. The only problem was all the rain and finding a good spot. I got a few shots earlier in the evening and was north of town a bit when I saw the lightning alert over south Phoenix.

I dunno how I made it. I was 17 miles away. I had to stop for gas. I only put in five gallons ’cause I was in a hurry. I finally got to the garage after 25 minutes. Didn’t expect any lightning to be still going on. And it had all been north of the garage. When I got there though, it died out. So I ran to the south side, for the shot over the city and within two minutes, lightning started hitting right where I wanted it to.

I definitely let out a loud, echoing yell in this empty parking garage, like I had just won the Super Bowl or something.

(on a side note, I wasn’t up on the top of the structure, I was one floor down, protected from the rain, which was huge)

Some of you who were on Twitter last night will probably remember me bragging about this bucket list shot being a triple-strike. I still have that, but this one hit a few minutes later and I like it the most.

I’ll end up posting the other one at a later date of course.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 35mm, f/8.0, iso 100, 20 sec)

  • http://www.brianfurbush.com/blog Brian Furbush

    Dude! This. Is. Sick. The framing is spectacular, not to mention the awesome color in the sky…you rocked it.

  • http://scottwyden.com Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    Stunning capture. Talk about timing and location!

  • http://hdrexposedphotography.com Dave DiCello

    Mike this is IT dude! I was JUST talking this weekend about your lightning shots and how I wnated to get one over downtown Pittsburgh…you’ve certainly inspired me next time there is a storm to do just that! This is epic man.

  • http://www.chrisfrailey.com Chris Frailey

    Good stuff Mike. Last night was crazy with all the lightning. Hopefully more tonight.

  • http://brianmatiash.com/ Brian Matiash

    Wow man, that is just crazy! Look at you rockin’ the bucket list. Love it.

  • http://ginameolablog.com Gina Meola


  • http://photostry.com/ Kristi Hines

    That’s an awesome shot! Great way to capitalize on some kick a$$ lightning! 🙂

  • http://ramblings.chriswray.net Chris Wray

    That’s the money shot! Awesome photo, Mike.

  • http://jstolarski.com Jon Stolarski

    I love the silo of the City with the office lights on, the streaks from the cars and that powerful strike just sets it off! Well done sir! That location has definitely paid off for you.

  • http://theperfectsunset.net Jason Hines

    Great catch man!

  • http://axphotography.wordpress.com/ Scott Ackerman

    I don’t throw this word out too often but I think this one definitely qualifies – Epic!

  • http://Www.ryoungfoto.com Rick Young

    One of your best!

  • http://www.flickr.com/cliffbaise Cliff Baise

    I love this. The colors are fantastic!

  • Jack Partin

    Mike – You continue to amaze me my friend….

  • http://www.avestyles.com Alex Evjen


  • jina

    It’s amazing… really. So proud of you.

  • http://goldenhourstudios.com Jesse

    No way this is real.

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  • http://www.doephotog.com A.Barlow

    Good job man, nice exposure too. Glad to here ya got your shot. That always feels good to check something off the list!

  • http://www.myblueheaven.com Scott Wood

    Simply outstanding. Great capture.

  • Capnschwartz

    Dude I want that picture – FYI you missed my birthday!

  • http://www.hansrico.com Rick

    Awesome! it’s still on my list to capture a big one like that!

  • http://www.cdeangelisphotography.com/ Chris DeAngelis

    My goodness! That is inacredible. That should rename that parking garage in honor of all your amazing shots from there!!! Funny that I mentioned you and that same parking structure in my post today then you come up with this 🙂

  • http://www.curtfleenor.com Curt Fleenor

    Wow Mike, this is crazy! Incredible capture!

  • Tommaso

    Uau! Great!

  • http://www.jackazphotography.com Jack

    Stunning! Glad you were out of the rain. It’s the only thing I managed to successfully capture (not in camera thankfully). For those that weren’t around to know what kind of rain Mike was hiding from – it was raining sheets of rain; like walking through a waterfall.

  • http://www.edithlevyphotography.com Edith Levy

    Fantastic shot Mike.

  • http://www.stevebeal.com Steve Beal

    I missed this the other day but have to leave a comment now. This is absolutely one of the sickest lightning images I’ve ever seen and definitely my favorite of all time of yours. It looks like a book cover, especially with your well-placed logo, dude… next level game.

  • http://wezwanders.com Wez

    I know its been a few days since you posted this, but I had to come on and comment about how amazing this shot is. I love it. Keep up the awesome work.

  • http://imagesbyjw.com Jan Winther

    Killer shot Mike, – did you play the lottery that day too? What a spectacular capture, right where you wanted it. Im sure this print will be on your best seller lists.