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A final visit to the seventh floor

The Puddle - Downtown Phoenix Storm Reflection

(click to see the big puddle in a lightbox)

This evening of February 20th, 2011 was pretty awesome. Those that have followed me for awhile may remember some of the other shots (here and here) from the top of this downtown Phoenix parking garage right next to Chase Field. Seven stories. An absolutely amazing sunset with the most gorgeous clouds you ever saw. And a previous rain left puddles everywhere.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love clouds and sunsets like this. They are incredibly rare.

This will likely be the last image I post from that night. Time to move on, and leave it behind.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, f/16, 17mm, iso 100)

Hanging sunset

(click…to…see…larger…and…stuff)

Sometimes there are clouds and sometimes there are CLOUDS. This doesn’t even compare to the monster storm clouds I’d love to be photographing in the midwest right now, but as far as sunsets go in Arizona, this was one of my favorites.

You may remember a few shots already taken on this day: The “Seventh Heaven” reflection and the one of Chase Field called “Fever Pitch“. With my wife and daughter looking on in the chilly, windy weather, I was running around like a psycho trying to capture the clouds anyway I could.

Not exactly my favorite composition in the world, but sometimes I just love the sky more than anything. What stands out to me in a shot with stormy clouds like this is the way the lower hanging stuff gets lit up by the sun leaving the rest dark. It’s something you just don’t see very much.

I also love the stuff on the left horizon…the clouds are white and really defined.

Makes me excited for monsoon season…only…ugh…three more months. Sigh.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/16)

 

Fever Pitch

(image looks a lot yummier in lightbox, click to view)

I’d toss this up there with one of the most unique skies you’d ever see in Arizona. A gorgeous sunset, wispy, high cirrus…and then some dark, menacing storm clouds hanging low over the city, a tiny bit of sprinkling rain hitting our heads.

This is another installment of Movie Title Wednesday, one that had quite a few options to choose from. But believe it or not, Field of Dreams and The Sandlot have already been used since I started this thing back in September! There are a ton of great baseball movies, but the one I choose is a flick I really enjoyed.

Fever Pitch stars Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. Barrymore…I’ve loved her since E.T. I always liked Fallon from his days on SNL, but this movie kind of raised him up a bit more for me. And now he hosts his own late show and it’s friggin’ hilarious.

The film itself was just a fun one. Yeah, it’s kind of your standard romantic comedy, but it has something unique about it that not everyone probably knows.  The plot revolves around the Boston Red Sox of course and Fallon’s character’s infatuation with them. When they started filming the movie, they had no idea the Red Sox would win the World Series that year. In fact, the original end of the movie was written with them losing yet again.

But they won. They broke the curse. So the plot changed too…hurriedly re-written after Boston won Game 7. And it made for an awesome ending. When Fallon and Barrymore are seen celebrating on the field at the end of the movie, they were actually at Game 4 when Boston beat St. Louis and supposedly you could see some of the filming live on the Fox broadcast. When I watch the movie, it almost has a kind of historic feel to it now because it revolved around this real-world event.

I’d definitely put it up there with The Sandlot and Field of Dreams as my favorite baseball movies, although I did love The Rookie too.

About the picture above. I think photographers can honestly say that luck can be a huge factor when composing certain scenes. I mean, here I am running around the rooftop of this parking garage firing away at everything because the sky was simply amazing…and after being there 25 minutes, I stumble across the spot above and have roughly 30 seconds to setup and snap the brackets before the sun disappeared from its absolutely perfect position.

Which is what I dig. When out stormchasing or racing to find a great spot for a sunset, sometimes a little luck comes in handy.

For the out-of-state-ers, this is Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks looking east along Jefferson Street in downtown Phoenix. This was shot about 10 minutes or so before the other one I’ve posted from this parking garage called Seventh Heaven.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100)

Along Bush Highway

I tend to get out of my car a lot when stormchasing. I suppose that part is obvious. Of course, it can also depend on conditions. I may end up driving an hour just to get somewhere before I find the need to take a photo. Or I can stop every two miles along a beautiful stretch of highway and still have an endless supply of scenery to shoot.

Now, because summer isn’t here yet, I use the word “stormchasing” loosely. Mostly I’m just out shooting pictures before/during/after we get anything that involves rain or clouds. So it’s not really chasing anything…other than that next masterpiece of a photo I expect to take.

On this particular instance, I was out of my car along this stretch of Bush Highway because believe it or not, I had spotted some wild horses meandering through the desert. I know they exist, but it’s definitely rare to see them. Without the 70-200mm that I’d love to have someday, my biggest zoom lens right now is my 85mm 1.8. On a full-frame, it’s not awesome, but I slapped it on hoping to get a bit up close to these horses.

I nabbed a few shots, but the ponies were far off and quickly moved on. When I turned back to the car, I saw the road heading off in the distance and thought it might look kind of nifty with the 85 and a wide open aperture.

I used FocalPoint to help accentuate the blur in the foreground and off in the distance, which helped finish off the vision I had in my head when I took the shot. Simple B&W processing.

The thing about racing to the next storm or the next scenic view is that you end up flying past cool stuff. If I hadn’t been stopped to see the horses, I undoubtedly would have not scene the road in the same way I did standing alongside it.

I definitely treasure those moments when I stop and see something I didn’t expect.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/2.0, iso 100, 1/640 sec)

The Book of Eli

Bush Highway Arizona Desert

(newish: click on the image to view in a lightbox)

Last week was a drag for some reason, so it’s hard to believe it’s already Wednesday! And that means it’s time for a Movie Title!

The Book of Eli starring Denzel Washington. Lots of fun stuff about this film, not the least of which was how it was processed. Stark contrast, fast moving clouds…hyper-details…it felt a lot like a super-processed HDR movie or something. The plot itself is kind of hard to talk about without giving away too much…because sadly I was told awhile before I saw the movie exactly what would happen at the end and it kind of ruined it for me.

I think you get a mixed bag of reviews for this movie. I loved it, thought the ending was great and just enjoyed the entire post-apocalyptic yummyness. Also Mila Kunis was in it…and…well, you can’t do much wrong there.

This image was taken on Sunday morning. I got up around 5am (on a Sunday, yeah, I have problems) and drove way out east of town along Bush Highway. When I shoot weather and clouds, I am huge into contrasting lines in the sky with lines on the ground.  So there was no way I was not going to grab a few shots of this road. I actually didn’t stop for it…I had hopped the railing for another image that will arrive another day.

I usually start out with an idea of what I’m going to do with an image in post, but this sort of “post-apocalyptic” look came about totally by accident and suddenly I knew I wanted to create a bit more of a “hyper contrast” kind of style.

Hopefully it reminds you of the Book of Eli as much as it did me.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso100, f/20)

Seventh Heaven

Downtown Phoenix Urban Storm Sunset

(new: click to view in a lightbox)

This picture is really dedicated to my wife, whom without I doubt we’d have even been in this spot. We had a nice storm system move through this past weekend and I got up real early on Sunday and spent a few hours driving out in the mountains to get some photos.

Because I’d already been out, I just didn’t think about going out again because I had a lot of stuff to get done. Yet my wife comes home in the late afternoon and says “I can’t believe you aren’t out there with these clouds.

And she was right. I couldn’t believe it either. So around 5pm we packed up Lyla and hit downtown Phoenix.

I’ve been wanting inside this parking garage for a long time now and this was a perfect occasion. The guy at the gate said it would cost me $12 despite no event and not a single soul parked in the garage. I asked what I could do if I just wanted to shoot some photos for an hour. He decided to let me park for free near their office in the garage itself which was awesome.

We took the elevator up to the highest floor…number seven, and as my wife told her mom later that night…I was like a kid in a candy store.

The clouds were just amazing. Stormy, huge, fluffy…floating just above our heads. The entire city was basked in this amazing light when the sun went down. I have to rank it up there with the top three sunsets I’ve witnessed here.

I was a snapping, bracketing fool and we were actually on our way out (because there is only so much you can take seeing your two girls bundled up, looking cold, Lyla with those little eyes saying it’s probably time to go daddy) when I saw this scene. The roof of Chase Field where the Diamondbacks play can be seen on the left, which is kind of amazing because it’s such a huge stadium…the roof still towers above us despite being seven levels up.

The puddle obviously makes the shot, but I also just love this cement landscape that stretches out towards the horizon.

I had a heck of a time processing this one last night, starting over several times and spending at least 2-3 hours on it. I’m kind of a perfectionist now and when I think of something being blown up to 20×30, I realize all the tiny details matter.

Can’t wait to get to a few more sets from this parking garage. I have some nice shots of Chase Field itself so I hope those turn out awesome.

Wow I rambled today! Hope your week is going well!

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