A new image from May 9th of last year near Muleshoe, TX. This was a beautiful supercell that earlier dropped a brief rope tornado near Sudan and then sped away so fast I couldn’t keep up with it. Here I am chasing it from the south side, trying super hard to keep up with it. I gave up after this though and just enjoyed watching the stunning structure and that monster tail cloud, along with some beautiful cloud-to-ground strikes!
Back in 2015 west of Gila Bend, near the Paloma Dairy I saw one of the most extraordinary sunsets I’ve ever witnessed during the monsoon. Dust was blowing across the ground. The sky lit up in all shades of orange. Lightning in the distance. It was astounding.
Ended up being a beautiful time-lapse! But here’s a frame from that time-lapse, complete with a nice little lightning bolt to top off a gorgeous scene.
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Music: Breathe by Ex Makina licensed through the Music Bed
The moment I heard the opening thump of bass…I knew I would be using this song for my film. But then those haunting vocals hit my ears…and blew my mind. It was like a punch deep in my soul. It’s hard to explain that feeling when you first hear a song and you immediately fall in love with it. Almost like you’ve known it all along.
I hadn’t even planned to start working on this film yet, but I was so inspired that I furiously began to lay down time-lapse clips. I couldn’t stop pouring over it. It was last September and I was supposed to be working on Monsoon IV, but I forgot all about it once I heard Ex Makina’s “Breathe.” It almost felt like it was made for a black and white storm film.
About halfway through editing, I knew the song title would be my film title as well. It was so perfect I couldn’t believe it. Sometimes for me…when I’m chasing or watching an amazing storm…I’ll realize I haven’t taken a breath in awhile. Never really thought of it until I heard this song.
I love being inspired by other artists. I love soundtracks. I can’t imagine the movie Interstellar without that powerful pipe organ soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. Music is so important to what I do and I’m so incredibly thankful to husband/wife duo Iain and Rebecca Campbell for writing this amazing song. Thanks to the MusicBed as well for having such fantastic musicians and artists.
In early 2017, I put together a film called Pulse that was my first ever black and white time-lapse movie. It was so different and fun, I wanted to do a follow-up this year before the next chase season begins. Breathe is made up solely of storm clips from 2017…either from the spring across the central plains or from the monsoon here in the southwest. Some are favorites, some are just ones I knew would be amazing in monochrome and others I used because they fit the music so well. I also went with a wider aspect ratio on these films to give it more of a cinematic feel.
This is also the first film I’ve ever done in full 8K resolution. I’m super excited about that. You may not be able to watch it in that resolution, but it’s there if you can. Otherwise, 4K is a must if you can!
I truly hope you enjoy this. For me, I needed something to pass the time and bridge the next few months as I wait for supercells to return to the plains. But honestly, I truly love putting these together. Thanks for all your support in the past and feel free to share!
I used two Canon 5DSR’s along with a Canon 11-24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 135mm and Sigma Art 50mm. Manfrotto tripods. The final product was edited in Lightroom with LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro.
I usually get this blog post out before the end of the year, but aside from two weddings I had to shoot in the last three days of 2017, I took some much needed time off. So January 1st it is! It was a crazy year…the busiest one for me so far in many ways. Mostly on the storm chasing front. I drove more than ever before…35,000 miles during the spring, about 14,000 during the summer. Long days on the road and many, many days away from my family. Two workshops during the summer down in Tucson. It was incredibly rewarding, but the grind was wearing. I welcomed the offseason big time.
Being able to switch gears from storms to portraits I fully believe helps keep me balanced. I photographed 32 weddings and did around 52 other photoshoots. I met some insanely awesome people this year, traveled to cool locations and captured some super fun events.
This blog post is in chronological order. I released four time-lapse films this year which are scattered about in the midst of waaay too many photos below. But I took out so many ones I loved out already, I couldn’t cut anymore. These posts are also just for me personally, to be able to look back and quickly remember what happened in a year.
Highlights for me are of course the four films, but a road trip through Oregon with my buddies early in the year, a trip to California Adventures with the family, adding our pup Winnie to the mix, having Anderson Cooper walk in to a wedding reception, a rainy shoot in Sedona, an Antelope Canyon elopement, the McLean tornado, two plains storm-chasing tours, incredible mammatus and asperitas sunsets, visiting Montana twice, a trip to Holland with Jina, taking Lyla and Eli along for a late June chase in Colorado, haboobs in southwestern AZ, a landspout tornado in downtown Phoenix, lightning at the Grand Canyon (FINALLY), shooting a wedding in a monsoon downpour, photographing a wedding where Lyla was the flower girl, seeing families I love for late year Christmas photos, taking some last images of my late Grandma and finally, seeing an epic rocket launch.
Thank you all so much for your support during the year, it means so much to me! I hope you enjoy this look back at 2017!
National Geographic contest link: Click here!
This year has been amazing…but to end it on this note is just awesome. I swear I rarely enter photo contests for a number of reasons, but I tried to do more in that area this year. I was already blown away with the Weather Photographer win a few months back, but now my Grand Canyon lightning photo won 3rd place in the Landscape category for National Geographic Photographer of the Year! Can’t believe that.
Many of you know that trying to capture lightning up at the Canyon has been a frustrating experience for me for many years. Nothing but failure. But this summer things changed and the skies cooperated with me finally and it was one of the highlights of my storm chasing career. This photo embodied everything I had been after. And to have it honored like this is beyond words. So very humbled and thankful!
Appreciate local radio station KTAR the nice write-up about it!
Met up with my pals John Sirlin and Chris Frailey last night out near Saguaro Lake for some chilly Geminid fun. Put the new #SonyA7RIII through the ringer coupled with the Canon 11-24, and I have to say, I’m pretty friggin’ stoked with this camera.
Saw a bunch of meteors, this is a stack of about 19 over the course of about 90 minutes. Plenty more in other directions of course
Great to hang out with my buddies that I haven’t seen since storm season basically…but man that heater felt good in the truck on the way home!#desertrat
August 26th began out southeast of Globe where me and the kiddos purposely ran into my buddy John Sirlin so they could see Aspen whom they just love! We watched some distant storms there, then drove through Safford as more storms pounded that area. We raced south and then eventually ended up at Marsh Station exit for what would be one of the best shows of the summer. We sat at this overpass for over an hour, watched a stunning, super orange sunset, and lightning striking all to our west…which was ideal haha. The colors, the bolts, the light trails from the passing traffic…it all lined up for such an amazing evening.
Ran into Lori Grace Bailey there as well and we all were going bonkers of course! Love nights like this!
It’s only taken me about eight months to finally edit a bunch of stills from our annual Lost//Discovered road trip. My buddies Andrew, Aaron, Jay and Jason, along with myself, flew to Oregon, rented an RV and did a trip down the coast, then back inland to find some waterfalls and then three of us ended up at Mount Hood to finish the adventure.
Here are the pics. Hope you enjoy!
Have tried and failed so many times trying to get lightning after dark at the Grand Canyon. Years of driving up there to only come home empty handed. It’s a 3.5 hour trip one-way to just sit in a spot and wait and wait and wait and not only hope for a storm to pop-up, but for it to be out over the Canyon and also to not rain on you. So many things have to come together for it to work out.
Last Monday I was watching the models and it sure looked like Wednesday would be a good day for storms up there and even some potentially at night. I left at 7am that morning and was up there just in time to watch some good daytime stuff, even scored some bolts at sunset out over the Canyon. It was all great, but they looked to be dying out. I figured I got skunked once again.
My buddy John Sirlin came up as well and as it got dark, beyond hope, some cells popped up just south of the Grand Canyon Village and started moving north/northeast. Then bolts began exploding, but out over the plateau where you can’t see the landing point. All we did was wish and pray it would come out over the Canyon itself.
And then it did. One was on the edge. And then one was out over the middle. And we cheered and clapped loudly amidst the chilly temps and high wind. It was incredible to see something so massive lit up in front of you even for a brief moment.
This bolt was the last one we saw…a huge positive well away from the precip core. So much power to light up something so massive at the Grand Canyon. I love all the shadows and textures, even the Colorado River totally visible.
I must be learning how to be more patient these days, or at least, maybe finally realizing I can’t be on every storm, so might as well do the best I can with what I got. I was way down south yesterday, near Santa Rosa and Pisinemo with some really nice storms, but I had a bad feeling that they wouldn’t last into the night. At the same time, I see a nice line moving into Phoenix and realized I’m probably hosed.
In the past, I may have turned around and raced back home in a panic, but yesterday I stuck it out, got in front of the storms moving towards Organ Pipe and saw some of that magical monsoon light that shows why it’s special to chase out here.
Only captured two lightning strikes yesterday, this was the first and made the entire trip worth it. The rain was cresting the peaks, the sun was blazing on the desert landscape and it was all stunning. There is a little rainbow behind the left saguaro, plus an even fainter second one near the bolt. That Organ Pipe area has really grown on me this year. Always something awesome happening out that way.
And now it’s bed time. I had a time-lapse/photo gig at PIR shooting DC Solar construction lighting equipment at 1am this morning and got home around 5:30. Haven’t slept at all! Time to crash!