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Two spikey peas in a pod

Desert Snow Storm Arizona Cactus Yucca

I’ve been having a ton of fun this fall/winter playing around with urban exploration, processing grungy images and discovering my love for shooting in downtown Phoenix.

But I absolutely miss the summer storms. Big time. I feel like I’ve learned something about the  kind of photography I want to produce when it comes to weather images and now I’m anxious to see that vision come alive in the upcoming monsoon season.

I love this picture. It was shot during the cold weather that brought some snow storms to the deserts in late December. One of my favorite moments in weather is after a storm leaves. Lots of times you get awesome light, clear, crisp air and an amazing contrast between the storm leaving and what you see in front of you. This image is no exception. As the storm exits to the right of the image, you can see the darkness still alive in it. But here where we stand…beautiful sunlight casting long shadows…and a crisp, vibrant air that gives us an amazing clarity all the way to the snowy peaks on the horizon.

There is one negative to this image: It only increases my craving to get back out there. And summer is still a long ways off.

(exif: rebel xsi, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, f/20, iso100)

The Notebook

Chair and Notebook from the Dog Track

I could have gone with another movie here guys, but I didn’t think anything else worked as well as The Notebook. Sure…Shattered Glass starring Hayden Christiansen is probably more manly…but truthfully? I think Christiansen is actually a bit more girly than a girly movie.

I’ve been married for almost 13 years. My wife is from a family of criers. Before we ever got hitched, I remember sitting in a theater watching one of the biggest sob fests of all-time, My Life (Michael Keaton, Nicole Kidman) with my wife, her parents, her sister and her sister’s husband. I looked down the aisle during the movie and they all had tears down their faces. I was like…really?

Flash forward to now and I’m officially part of the family because I get choked up at everything. Having a daughter has even made it worse. Too many father/daughter moments in TV/movies just totally ruin me now.

The Notebook was a great film and an amazing story…one that hits close to home with  my now deceased grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer’s. I wasn’t super close to him, but I remember always reminding him of my name when I saw him those final years. And I’m sure my grandma went through more than anyone knows.

With no real way to segue from that, the movie title is also a main subject of the photo above, one of my favorites from the dog track. This photo was kind of like The Notebook for me…it almost made me cry. Ha! Okay, not really, but when I took it, I showed it to buddies Rick and Scott and told them “This is probably the best photo I’ll take the entire time we’re here.” And I meant it. And I still feel that way.

As photographers, we can take a picture, look at it and feel like we totally nailed it. Best.Photo.I.Have.Ever.Taken. But I’ve had a number of occasions where a photo of mine that I felt was my best work just didn’t get received the way I thought it would. We have all probably dealt with that because it’s hard to be  completely objective when it comes to our own stuff.

I love this scene from top to bottom. The chair amidst shattered glass with a notebook sitting on it. An open doorway letting in an intense amount of light from the setting sun. Rich shadows. This was one of the first shots I processed from the dog track but it took me this long to post it to the blog. I was almost fearful of putting it out there and getting hit with the stark reality that it’s just not as good as I think it is.

But that’s photography really isn’t it? I mean, not all of it…but we want our photos to be seen by people and when you do that, you are welcoming in all comments and critiques…good, bad, indifferent. And that’s just part of being what we are. And the truth is…the more I shoot, the less I care about what people think because this is WHO I am…this is my style…and I’m confident in it and proud of it.

Now excuse me, I’m sure my buddy Bob Lussier is going to ask me for my man card at any moment, but the joke’s on him…I gave that thing away a looooong time ago.

Into the light

Morning Sunrise on the Apache Trail

You know me…a hint of weather, a mention of rain…and I can suddenly feel the juices get flowing again. When I go weeks and weeks at a time with nothing but blue, sunny skies…I kind of forget how much I love being out there chasing storms.

Monday was a day off for me…I wanted a nice little three-day weekend before I start my new job today. As amazing luck would have it (or maybe a nice little gift from the man upstairs), we actually had a storm system blow through the state that morning and afternoon. Clear skies today and the rest of the week…clear skies before that…but somehow…storms on Monday…my day off.

I was pumped.

Now, they weren’t storms that I normally love to get after…lightning, towering clouds…but it’s weather alright? I take what I can get!

I decided to get up at the crack of dawn and make my way to the Superstition Mountains before sunrise to see what I would so. It was a beautiful morning…standing outside in 35 degrees, watching the sun rise and light up the morning clouds.

This was actually the last shot of the day…taken around 9am. As it usually happens when I’m out doing this stuff, I didn’t plan this shot, nor stop to get it. I did stop to climb the hill to take some pictures of a forest of Ocotillo cactus, and on my way down I realized how much of the road I could see disappearing into the distance and then the sun started creating awesome rays from behind the clouds.

That’s my favorite part of stormchasing really. Never knowing what you’ll find when you are out there, nor what shots you’ll get. It’s a matter of exploring, looking, observing and getting lucky.

Now we return you to your regularly blue skies…already in progress (ugh).

(exif: 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35 2.8, 17mm,  f/16, iso100)

The Ruins

I loved the movie A Simple Plan, which was made from a book of the same name by Scott B. Smith, so when I heard he was writing a scary horror novel, I was pumped.  I think the first day The Ruins hit bookstore shelves, I bought it.

Now, this is Movie Title Wednesday and here I am talking about a friggin’ book! Well, of course The Ruins was made into a movie, and while it was a lot of fun to see it for those of us who are huge fans of the book, the film was just so-so. But if you aren’t into reading and just like a good popcorn horror flick, then check it out. The concept is fun, a little different than the norm.

However, if you love books, it’s a great read. If you don’t know this about me, I’m a huge book fan. I gobble them up. One year I discovered Dean Koontz and probably read 30 of his books in 12 months. I love that supernatural/sci-fi genre of storytelling.

This image has a bit of that feel to it for me. I think if you were walking up to this place by yourself, as the sun was going down…you’d probably get some chills, perhaps a few goosebumps, and likely turn around. Although I know a few of my urban explorer buddies would just whip out a couple of cannons and blaze ahead.

The building above is from my abandoned dog track series. My cohort Rick pointed out the actual track itself earlier in our outing, so I made sure to walk out there and see what I could see. Basically dirt and some cement borders that disappeared into overgrowth in a lot of spots. But looking back towards the building from the track was an awesome angle. You guys probably know how much I love roads and paths disappearing into the horizon, so this was kind of my money shot. Long, lost road, desert, broken glass windows…and of course, clouds in the sky.

Because for me, this shot would have been about 40% less exciting without the sky looking the way it did.

Lots more to come from the dog track…being there for around three hours was a perfect amount of time to just walk around slowly, see angles, explore and then even go back over it all one more time.

Brick

Yes, there is a movie called Brick.

Thanks for visiting for another Movie Title Wednesday and an image that I’m extremely excited about and what it might mean for me down the road. First off, the movie itself is a strange one.  It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the dialog is almost written like a Shakespearean play. If you love Independent films, you might want to track this one down and give it a looksee.

This photo was shot in downtown Phoenix back in October and represents a new world that I plan on exploring slowly over the coming months. I knew it would be an awesome challenge to tackle urban exploration (UrbEx) close to my new home and this photo is my first real trek into that arena. I’m a complete weather junkie, but I also love old and decrepit buildings and architecture. There is something beautiful about worn out bricks, discolored pavement, rusty metal, graffiti, broken glass, etc.

I’m friends with a few photographers who love to shoot UrbEx. Some of them are downright awesome at it. Their work has been an inspiration to me personally and being able to learn from the masters has been a blessing. I know some of them love to follow my stormchasing images…so I’m hoping to turn the tables on them today *grin*

There is much to see yet in downtown Phoenix and hopefully I get a few chances in the coming weekend to be out there a bit more. I want to get better at it and hopefully develop more of an eye for architecture and the urban environment in general.