Power

A heavy downburst of rain explodes outwards as it hits the ground, sending dusty outflow headed for Casa Grande. Lightning shoots out of the front of the rainshafts slamming in the ground.

Drove 45 minutes for about 14 minutes worth of shooting and that was it…but what a way to kick off Monsoon 2017 four nights ago just northeast of Casa Grande. Storms moving southwest towards that area weren’t dying out like expected, so the kids and I went into emergency drill mode and got everything in the car in record time, and bolted to McCartney Road just off I-10 and watched some crazy bolts flash before us.

Asher was our spotter on the way down, and hopefully I’ll post some short video later of his enthusiasm every time he saw a “flash” haha.

The storm itself was different, not sure why. Bolts were arcing out away from the cell over and over which seemed unusual…and I thought I saw some striations up in the cloud base briefly, but was hard to tell. Definitely a lot of drama with the downburst and dust exploding southwestward. That area is one of my favorites for that very reason…all that dust and flatness just adds so much to an image.

Haboob over Organ Pipe

I always knew southern Arizona near the border gets interesting weather…I think I saw a brief landspout down south of Three Points last year, it seems like supercells occur more that way as well, so with some shear in place yesterday and models hinting at storms popping in that vicinity, I waited for a few hours until things started going. Wow once they got going, they exploded. Big hail cores, supercell structure, severe warnings, pea-sized hail hitting the truck. One of my favorite chases here in AZ, culminating in this epic haboob with a stacked shelf cloud rolling over the stunning landscape of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

This is a 9-image panorama just to get the entire structure of thing thing in one frame. I have a couple time-lapses I’ll be working on later which should be pretty awesome…definitely up there with my favorites of all-time out here!
And rad to meet up with my buddy Trey Greenwood down there for this chase, we were pretty stoked to see this yesterday…although I have a feeling this kind of thing may happen down there more than we realize!

Undulatus Asperatus Sunset (Asperitas)

 

All spring I chase storms across the United States to collect footage of supercells, lightning, tornadoes and whatever I might find. Generally I don’t release any time-lapse clips from those chases until I put out my final end of season compilation film. But last night in North Dakota was too unreal to let sit on my hard drive for months.

We were chasing northeast of Bismarck, North Dakota and as storms were dying out, we decided to go for a lone cell on the backside of a line of storms. We knew it had a hail core on it and we were hoping that we might get some nice sunset color at least on the storm as it moved past us, and hopefully some lightning bolts. But we had no idea what we were about to encounter. The clouds were taking on a very different, curvy, wave-like appearance and suddenly we knew what we were seeing.

Undulatus asperatus clouds are a rare phenomenon and actually the newest named cloud type in over 60 years. I’ve seen tons of photos of them, but never anything like what we witnessed last night. We had a storm with hail in front of us and flashing lightning which was fantastic. But then we had this layer of undulatus clouds flowing across our view. Watching them was amazing already, but then the sun slowly appeared from behind some clouds to the west and lit up our storm like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We were like kids in a candy store. Running around, doing our best to capture it from every possible angle.

I did two time-lapses…one on the right side with a 50mm and then a wide angle with the 11mm. The colors here are real. I only increased the contrast. In fact, I was thinking of actually REDUCING the saturation because of how intense the colors looked with the contrast added. But that’s how it was and I left it that way. Six of us were there and all our photo and videos look the same.

This was undoubtedly one of the most incredible scenes I’ve witnessed chasing storms for the past 8 years.

Music: “Bayt Lahm” by Ryan Taubert

Gear: Two Canon 5DSR’s, Canon 11-24mm, Sigma Art 50mm 1.4

McLean, Texas

Couldn’t be happier that Sarah, Sandra and Josh all got to see their first ever tornado yesterday southwest of McLean, Texas! Although Josh and I did see a tiny little needle twister last week, this one was legit! More information on my storm chaser tours.

Was amazing to watch this happen right before our eyes. This new area of rotation just formed right in front of us, the rain began to wrap quickly, a clear slot appeared and suddenly it started dropping funnels. It reached the ground before it ever fully condensed, so we knew we got one, but it was awesome when it finally looked like this!

It disappeared in rain, so we went north and then it was there again off to the left, and roped out gorgeously over a hill. Will be sharing that one later as well!
Resting today in Woodward, TX…tomorrow looks huge.

Perryton

Ohhhh if it had only been daytime, but dang this storm was awesome and definitely tops for structure I’ve seen at night so far this spring. We were on a line of storms right away when they began to intensify northwest of Perryton, Texas, and while we were watching them explode, the southern cell rapidly developed a rain free base. I could see striations forming as well, so we flew south about 10 minutes and I parked at this spot mainly to get those windmills in the frame.

This was from my 5D4 with the @Tamron 15-30mm, but the other camera was doing an 8K time-lapse of this beast and I cannot wait to render that. I don’t have a ton of footage this year yet, but what I do have has been pretty great for nighttime stuff. Looking forward to hopefully more action next week!

Paducah, Texas

Been bad at editing lately, or I’m just so desperate for new material that I don’t want to go back to old stuff right now. But there are still a few images I love from the past few years that I’m trying to get around to working on…so here’s June 14th south of Paducah, Texas. An isolated beauty that spun towards me across farm lands for near an hour. As it got closer, the lightning became more visible and I was lucky to snag a couple nice bolts!

Horseshoe Bend

This has been a roller coaster week of emotions, lack of sleep and total exhaustion. From Phoenix to Texas and then to northern Arizona for two photoshoots. Feelings of helplessness and pain as a friend left this earth way too early, to a day later witnessing two people promise to share their lives together at one of the most beautiful places in Arizona. A day later spending time with another couple celebrating a 30th birthday at Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

It was stormy up there last night…incredibly windy and rain was coming. Our session ended before it got dark, which allowed me some time to myself. The sky was gorgeous, the clouds beautiful. This photos has what looks like a raggedy shelf cloud approaching my position.

I stayed there awhile, soaking it up, enjoying the spot with only a few people around. I even took a few portraits of two random couples and texted them the images just because after this week, I am inspired to try and be a better person and love people as much as I can.

More Wynnewood

A strong EF4 tornado spins across the fields near Katie and Wynnewood, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016

This tornado! Never get tired of it 🙂 I’ve been wanting to take some frames from the time-lapse of this guys and do more fine turning on the editing…so I’m finally getting around to doing that. This was one of the first few frames I shot when I got to this spot south of Wynnewood, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016.

You can see the time-lapse of this at the end of Vorticity, but it’s cropped a bit so you miss out on the beautiful structure above that twister.

Part of doing the fine tuning was removing the powerlines, because while it’s too difficult to do in a time-lapse, I really disliked them and wanted this to feel more in the middle of nowhere. If you can’t tell, I’m dying to get out chasing. Just about three weeks until my schedule is open and I can head out!

Crack of Dawn

(click on the image to see it full sized)

Last summer I made quite a few trips up to the Grand Canyon in an attempt to capture lightning, but always I failed. I even had a perfect storm right in front of me with a nice little downdraft, but nary a bolt came out of it. It was incredibly frustrating to say the least. To make the attempt over and over and come away empty handed…well I’m sure you can understand how that might feel.

I’ve had a few people say…but you’re at the Grand Canyon though, so it’s always worth the trip. Inside, I wanted to say…no, it’s not. It’s 7 hours of driving only to fail again and again. Outwardly, I’m like…yeah, true. You’re right. But of course I really didn’t feel that way.

However, this photo kinda represents what those people were trying to say and maybe it’s changed my heart a little bit. I arrived the night before to capture any lighting I could, but the storms didn’t cooperate as usual. I parked in a campground, pretty depressed, slept an hour or so, woke up early and made my way to Navajo Point to watch the sunrise before heading home.

The sky was dark, and then slowly the light grew. Then clouds were majestic. The North Rim caught the first light of the sun perfectly and I stood there in silence, taking it all in. It was overwhelming. Even though it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States, it was 6am and I was utterly alone. It was perfectly quiet except for the clicking of my camera.

I won’t soon forget that morning. Despite the supposed failure, I was thankful to be there. I left with a happy note in my heart and knew I’d be back yet again.

Watson Falls

I don’t do a lot of straight landscape photography these days as my time is spent between storms, weddings and family…but my annual road trip with my pals is when I get to stretch my muscles a bit.

Watson Falls, Oregon. This was a beautiful place and I did my best to channel guys like Peter Coskun, Michael Shainblum and Mike Mezeul II. I worked hard to get into this spot that was sorta right over the river as much as possible. I wanted to get those rocks with the small flowers and hanging grass, plus try to get the water rushing underneath me.

I love how it turned out, but it was a difficult shot. The misty spray from the falls was brutal, and I wanted to shoot this at f/22 to get a longer exposure and sharpness throughout, but the waterspots were horrible. I dropped to f/6.3 and they disappeared! So this is a blend of the two shots, mainly to get the smoothness in the water running in the foreground.

Hope you enjoy this little break from storms!