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The Three Watchmen

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4 l, f/22, iso 200, 1/4 sec // buy print)

There is something majestic about the Saguaro cactus. When they stand by themselves, or even in a group of three…they make me think of something ancient…guardians of the world. Almost like Ents from Lord of the Rings.

Ooops, there’s my nerdy side.

I was driving down this road chasing a gorgeous storm coming in over the Bradshaw Mountains when I spotted these guys. I just loved, loved, loved the composition with the storm in the background, so I set up and prayed that I’d capture a strike.

This was one of those “I hope I get lucky shots” where I had to employ rapid fire with the camera because it was still so light out.

Well, I did get lucky and couldn’t have asked for a better placed lightning bolt.

One of my favs from 2011.

Pillar in the Rain

Pillar in the Rain - Arizona Monsoons

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/16, iso 100, 1/13th // buy print)

My wife was proofreading my upcoming Stormchasing Arizona photojournal (should be ready for preorder next week!) and she commented on how much she loved this particular photo. So to thank her for the 4-5 hours she sat in front of my book, editing and ensuring it was better than I could do myself, I thought I’d post this guy today.

These are the Bradshaw Mountains north of Phoenix. I had never really been to this area before, nor down this particular road, so it was awesome to be able to check it out with a great storm blowing over the hills. I pulled out the 85mm for this shot, not wanting a vast angle of the storm, but instead the falling rain shrouding the mountains with the sun lighting it all up from the left horizon.

I may have taken this shot anyways, but I was a lot more interested in the scene because of that little pillar of rock. Curious what it looks like up close, may have to check it out someday.

Weather on the Bradshaws

Storms on the Bradshaws - Arizona Monsoons

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/22, iso 100, 1/5 sec // buy print)

So all spring long (and all year long really), I like to keep up with the stormchasers from the midwest. They post photos from chases and usually you see some wicked storms that make me insanely jealous. And some of the photos are really, really great. For example, Stephen Locke and Extreme Instability.

But most of the time chasers just snap images from inside their car, on a road with cars flying by, powerlines, etc. They are just there to see and shoot, nothing very artistic. Mostly for memories. And for me…I always wish I could be out there seeing what THEY are seeing so I could frame it in a beautiful way. A windmill, an old barn, whatever.

The reason I rambled on about that is because of my shot today. There really isn’t much of an interesting foreground. I don’t have tall saguaro cacti. No giant rocks, or trees. Or abandoned structures.

Just the Bradshaw Mountains and a beautiful storm.

Storm clouds change so fast, sometimes when you see something amazing, you literally have minutes to shoot it before it’s gone. This cloud was one of those moments. What I see is a little horse-shoe-shaped base wrapping around falling rain. The entire structure headed towards me like a flying saucer. Absolutely gorgeous in my eyes.

And I wanted to capture it, whether I had a cool foreground or not. Sometimes when you are out stormchasing, that’s all you can do.