Lightning!

Last summer I realized I could photograph lightning with my little point and shoot camera. Downside was that it was a continuous shot mode, took 2-3 shots per second and you kind of had to be close for the camera to pick it up.

But I was hooked. Big time. I LOVED chasing storms and getting lightning shots. So I knew I needed a better camera, one that could do lots of cool things.

So I bought a Rebel DLSR. Most of you have seen how much I’ve used it since October or so. But as much fun as it has been, I couldn’t believe how long I had to wait until summer to get thunderstorms for lightning shots.

Surprise surprise…we had a nice little winter thunderstorm show last night and yes, I rushed out thanks to my buddy Tyler letting me know he saw some bolts lighting up the sky.

It was a fun storm chase for me, although it ended up with my Blackberry being slaughtered by my car and pouring rain. I stopped to shoot some photos and was in such a frenzy that my phone fell out of the car onto the rocks without me realizing. I left just as pouring rain and hail showed up (drove through some pretty dang good hail), and didn’t realize it was gone for over an hour.

After looking all over the car, I came back to the same spot and somehow spotted the red blinking light. Soaked with rain, scratched from me likely running over it, the phone was still ON, but nothing worked.

Ah the fun of storm chasing 🙂

Here are four shots from the night, the only four I really ended up with. The first three were shot from Higley and the 202, looking northeast. Amazing how high up this little corner was and how it almost looks like they were shot from a hilltop.

This last one below isn’t as good as the others, but I do love the rain you can see falling, while the lightning appears from out of the middle of it all.

Contrails over the desert

I took these awhile back, but never posted them on the blog. I noticed some awesome contrails over the desert and so I drove out at lunch to take some shots.

Contrails usually don’t show up too well on bright, sunny skies, but the usage of HDR and a polarizer filter can really bring them out.

These are all HDR, shot south of Hunt Highway.

Chandler Park Sunset

The same park I took some other shots at in a previous blog post also provided some amazing sunsets the day before.

The park is high, around three stories, so you get an amazing view.

Some more cement pipes that have been turned into art. This is one that set up perfectly for a setting sun.

I’ve gotten a lot of good feed back on this one. I call it “Ocotillo Sunset” because of the ocotillo cactus in the foreground. Got me an AC on Wunderground (Approver’s Choice)!

New Park

There is a new park in Chandler, built on an old landfill that has been closed for many years now. It’s about three stories high because of all the trash under it, so it’s kind of an interesting place.

They have some new playground stuff, interesting items used as “art” and it provides a high place to look around the town of Chandler.

Here are a few shots from around the park.

This is a giant concrete pipe turned on it’s side acting like a silo, or sort of like the corner of a castle around the playground area at this park. I stepped inside, saw the open ceiling and had a field day. This is an HDR.

An HDR of the playground…loved the clouds behind it…stunning.

One of those fun rope contraptions I used to love as a kid.

Another shot through the “silo”

San Tan Mountains

On Monday, Lyla and I took a little trip in my car out to explore around the San Tan Mountain area. There is so much to see over there and it’s only 10-15 minutes away from my house…I just haven’t taken the time to look around.

I will say that I can’t wait until Lyla is a little older and understands what I’m doing. I think maybe she will enjoy the outings to different places and love to explore with me. Hopefully…crossing fingers.

So here are the results of the little excursion.

A simple HDR photo of some rolling hills. My style with HDR lately is to try hard to make it look as natural as possible.

This might be my favorite one. Found this giant cactus and hiked out to it. HDR.

Same cactus, different angle…this is an HDR with an almost black and white treatment to it with lightened borders.

Black and white HDR

Thought this mailbox was funny sitting in front of empty land. HDR.

Some desert photography

Over the Christmas break, we drove around a bit, to Anthem for a little shopping and then just some other random places. A few times we ventured further out to the edge of whatever little area we were in and looked for some desert landscaped to photograph. Here are a few.

This was shot up by Anthem. It’s combined with a texture I shot at a desert park on Lindsey and Chandler Heights.

This is the same shot in black and white.

A waterfall at the park here in Chandler. Hard to believe a sight like this is just around the corner. The day was cloudy, with virga clouds. HDR.

Black and white. HDR

Shot this in northeast Mesa, up on Brown Road. HDR.

This was taken up in Anthem as well. A hiking trail disappears off into the distance. HDR

Aston Martin Vantage

One of our favorite places to eat is Joe’s Farm Grill and while we were there the other day, we stopped to get coffee next door. Sitting in the little covered area across from The Coffee Shop was one of the owner’s cars, an Aston Martin Vantage.

What a sexy vehicle…the lines and the look was too perfect to pass up. I snapped a few shots and stitched them together to make an HDR, plus did some enhancements and smoothing to really make it shine.

Mill Avenue Bridges

My previous post about the sunset over the Tempe Town Lake wasn’t the only thing I photographed down in that Tempe area. My excursion that night led me all the way to downtown Phoenix, but my favorite stuff ended up being what I found in Tempe.

In fact, it’s an amazing thing about photography. The stuff I was “planning” on shooting when I left the house ended up being my least favorite things that night and it was the random, surprising stuff that made it such a worthy trip.

So after the sunset I drove down to the little beach park area underneath the Mill Avenue bridges that cross the lake. There is a northbound and southbound bridge, a light rail bridge and then an old railroad bridge. A fairly awesome place to take pictures. So here are the results:

(FYI, some of these might look great hanging somewhere in your house, office or Tempe Chamber of Commerce *grin* let me know if you are interested in a print)

This first photo is an HDR and is off the Mill Avenue Bridge from the west. We’re looking south into Tempe during dusk and the lights that are strung across the bridge really light this thing up. I love this photo.

I moved east into the little space between the north/southbound bridges. This is an HDR, but technically came from only one image. I’ve learned a lot about processing and have snagged a few tools that really help finish these things off.

This shot is further west between the light rail bridge (on the left) and the railroad bridge. The light rail has this unique aspect of having the underneath lit up by lights of all different colors. You can see some of them here.

This shot is of the light rail on the east side and is just a standard, time-lapsed photo. The yellow and white streaks at the top of the bridge are actually of a light rail train passing over while I took the photo. You can see further down the bridge where the white lights start, which is when I pressed the shutter open. The light on the bridge itself can be seen changing from a blue-ish color to purple off in the distance.

This is the same as the above shot but also an HDR.

Sunset in Tempe

I went on a little adventure Tuesday night and it paid off in some big ways. The first of which was making it to Tempe Town Lake just  in time for a seriously spectacular sunset. I found a spot just on the north side off Rural and ran to the water’s edge and found the setting sun igniting the clouds and the lake.

Here are the four sunset photos I snapped, three of them are normal, the last is an HDR.

Sun Devil Stadium on the left of the photo

This last one is an HDR

Storm photos from Tuesday

We had some fun storms blow through town yesterday, I took a few photos from my office building and then after picking Lyla up from the sitter, I jumped down south of Hunt Highway to check out some crazy looking clouds.

This is an HDR shot taken from a parking garage near my office.

HDR shot taken from my 19th floor office window!

Another HDR shot down south from my house.

A regular photo, no HDR here.

Another normal photo, processed with a bit of a dirty color to give it an old look. I love this style.