Posts

Anduril

(click on the image for a nicer view in lightbox)

Sometimes getting the right shot is all about being there.

I’m not going to brag about this photo being some kind of amazing composition…because in reality, it’s pretty simple. At the time I was actually wishing I had something better to get into the frame than just a few saguaros. Like maybe a glacial lake in the Himalayas (whaaat?)  But sometimes all it takes for me is a killer sky. And killer skies aren’t always easy to come by.

I remember seeing photographs and always being jealous that they somehow lucked out to get that beautiful sunrise or sunset.

The fact is…they were there to get it. That’s all it takes really.

I’ve grown to love getting up before dark, packing my gear, grabbing a coffee, some snacks and heading out down some desert road to see where the morning finds me. Sadly, it just isn’t something I can do all the time. On this particular morning, it was around 33 degrees out, I was bundled up, hiked down a short trail and waited for the sun to peak over the Superstitions.

If you ever are wondering how you might decide whether or not there will be cool clouds the morning you decide to do a trip like this (esp when it’s dark out still), usually times during or after a rain storm can be perfect. Yeah, it might be raining, but it will likely break here and there and offer stunning shots. In this one above, you can see rain falling on the left horizon, headed my way. You can also look at infrared radar to see if the skies are cloudy around your area before you head out.

Of course, a lot of this is based on Arizona. I know in places like Oregon or the east coast…just because it stops raining doesn’t mean the skies wont stay gray.

Then again…if you aren’t out there waiting for a spectacular moment…you’ll miss it.

Oh, if you are wondering about the title…it’s from Lord of the Rings. If you figure out what it means, it kind of fits the image perfectly.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 18mm, f/16, iso 100)

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)

Terry’s Bug

(image looks a wee bit sexier if you click on it to view in lightbox)

This bug was one of the first arrivals at a car show the morning of our February 5th Urban Phoenix Photowalk. The sun wasn’t even up yet when we wandered through here and there were quite a few of us grabbing shots of this sweet ride.

I’ve always had a fondness for Beetles even though I never owned one. I was friends with a girl in high school who for some reason had an awesome tripped out blue Bug that I got to ride in a few times. I always thought that thing was cool.

So a quick story about the Bug in the picture. The owner was standing around, but none of us got his name or information. When I was processing this photo, I zoomed into the little decal on that rear quarter-panel window and got the name of Wolfsburg Registry. Amazing resolution on this 5D.

Quickly I did a search, found the Wolfsburg website, clicked on photos and voila, there’s a shot of this bug. The caption under it read “Terry’s Rassy taking in the day.

No idea what a “rassy” is…I thought it was perhaps a special type of Bug, but I couldn’t find anything. I’m so very NOT a car guy, so perhaps one of you out there has an idea.

I tried to register on the site, but it’s pretty locked down, so I saw the name of the photographer, tracked him down to Facebook, sent him a message and haven’t heard back.

I’m just hoping he’s one of those guys who only checks Facebook once a month and will eventually write me.

I love this shot of his car. The Heritage Square area of downtown Phoenix is absolutely beautiful and he picked a perfect place to park his bug.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/4, 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)

Humming by the creek

Early last Sunday morning I met my buddy Ken Peterson up near Table Mesa Road north of Phoenix. We’d had a crazy bit of cold weather move through and the snow level was supposed to be as low as it’s been in a few years.

I think we probably should have gone east of Phoenix into the Superstitions where the snow was a lot closer, but sometimes when you wake up before dark, you just can’t really be too sure!

Besides, I would have missed hanging out with Ken and this beast of a vehicle. I’d never been in a Hummer before so it was a rare treat to go barreling down dirt roads, splashing muddy water all over the windshield and making mincemeat of whatever terrain the desert could throw at us.

We hit this creek that eventually flows into Lake Pleasant. There were two half-submerged trucks in the water (see Ken’s photo here) which was mainly why we made some pretty awesome maneuvers to get down to this spot.

I’ll end up posting some shots of the trucks at some point, but I had so much fun in the Hummer that I wanted to process this for Ken. I can’t imagine ever going off-road without one of these bad boys (or some of the sick vehicles two of my buddies Jesse and John have).

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/22, iso 100)

Foundations of Stone

(Looks nicer in lightbox…just click on the image for a larger view)

– Usery Mountains, Apache Trail, Superstitions

One thing becomes evident when you explore the mountains and cliffs of the Arizona desert: The stuff under the ground appears to be made from jagged rock and rising stone. Everywhere you look, you see giant precipices bursting out of the earth…and you realize that the soil is hiding some amazing beauty that we may never see.

The title of today’s post is from the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers soundtrack. Weird how just kind of browsing for a title helps find meaning in a photo.

This was taken back on January 30th on my lone day off before I started the new day job. I can’t even tell you how amazing that day was with the light, the shadows and the clouds. I was definitely blessed when I hit the road that morning.

What I do like about this shot is the fact I pulled out the 50mm for it. I tend to mostly shoot landscapes wide with the 17-35, but sometimes you want to get something different.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/10, iso 100)

Looking up

Lights Against the Sky

One aspect of photography that I love are people who see lines, symmetry and shapes in anything and everything. They can see a simple staircase and frame it perfectly so it looks like art.

I don’t know if I have that talent. I have no idea if I’ll ever develop it. I don’t necessarily “see” that way too well. Now, if you want to ask me how best to frame a storm cloud, I can help you out.

This is kind of a different image for me. Well, not kind of, it just is. No major post processing, no multiple brackets. I was outside practicing some fill-flash with my little girl when I looked up and saw these cool clouds that suddenly made an appearance. We have string lights up ever since Lyla’s 2nd birthday back in November and I just liked how they criss-crossed against the sky.

I get so consumed by waiting for the big storms, the big weather, the cool abandoned dog track…that I forget a picture taken just a few feet from my back porch can make me just as happy.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/3.2, iso 100, 1/5000)

Southwest Shakespeare Company Gala

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do for a little exposure, a little practice and just a little bit of growing up.

The Southwest Shakespeare Company held a gala last weekend to raise money for their theater group. The cost was $100 a ticket, so it was a fairly ritzy event. A member of the company, Sara, asked if I wanted to help do a photobooth and hand out my business cards for a little bit of exposure.

I’ve been wanting to practice and get better at the whole one-light photobooth kind of setup, so I said sure I would. Plus it helps a good cause. While I don’t get out to shows or plays too often, I do enjoy them when I do.

So these are just a few of the shots I took that night. Sarah brought some props along to give it a cool, old office feel and I think it worked pretty well.

Used a Speedlite EX II off left with a light stand and umbrella. Flash was manual and power around 1/4. Canon 5D Mark II and a 50 mm 1.4 set at around f/5.0 and ISO 200. Backdrop was a giant drape/curtain I borrowed from church which proved perfect.

Definitely still learning, but for what we were trying to accomplish that night, they turned out pretty good I think.

Who holds the key?

My first thought when I saw this lock through the broken glass wasn’t what it should have been. There are at least two other aspects of this scene that are way more interesting than the question that went through my head at the time:

I wonder who has the key to the lock…or does anyone even know where it is anymore?

So now you may wonder, what are the other two things?

Both of them only occurred to me AFTER I embedded this photo tonight. Which means to me that I need to take my time more. But it kind of makes sense…because I found this abandoned water/power structure while on the way to Lake Mead while the sun was going down and I honestly was a little nervous being all alone. I was rushing to get shots quickly, composing fast, without really noticing what was around me.

Yet even during post-processing I didn’t see it. Not until now.

Okay, the first may not be a big deal, but the fact that the chain is going through the broken windows is kind of amusing to me. Obviously someone decided they needed to keep people out after they’ve tried to get in a few times.

The bigger thing is that the friggin’ door is OPEN. I mean, I don’t know how far I could have pulled it ajar…but maybe enough to get a camera slid inside to take a couple of brackets? Maybe it would still be too tight.

But the strange thing is that I just didn’t even notice.

Regardless of all that, I just loved this old door and I still can’t sing enough praises about using the 50mm on stuff like this. It’s just brilliant.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.0, iso 100)

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)