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Swallowing Tempe

I never end up in Tempe for these things, but the way Thursday’s haboob progressed more north/northeast, and how behind we were, I skipped downtown Phoenix and went to this spot where I’ve shot a ton of times for other things…in fact, some of my very first images I took about eight years ago down here.

It’s a quick spot to get to, with an iconic view of downtown Tempe with the Mill Avenue bridges. The time-lapse is pretty sweet, I got two from here, wish I could have shot two more as looking east was pretty gnarly as well.

Oh and a Southwest Airlines plane is in there trying to outrace it

Over Greenland

On my way home from Sweden to Phoenix back on November 20th, our flight path had us going over the southern portions of Greenland. As we approached the shore my eyes widened at this incredible landscape before me that looked so desolate, harsh, frigid and impassable from my vantage point. And then we flew over land and all these glaciers were below me and I was spellbound. Never seen one in person before, so having this view of around nine glaciers was like a religious experience. I couldn’t look away. And then as we kept going west over the mainland, the mountains disappeared into unfathomable depths of snow and ice. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!

These were shot at ISO 4000 hence the grain!

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Airplane

Airplane - Downtown Urban Phoenix Reflection

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 30mm, iso 100, f/4 // buy print)

You may know about my love for reflection photos like this one. What you may not know is that I’m kind of specific about when I shoot them.

Like, if someone empties their swimming pool and it floods the street…I don’t rush outside with camera gear in hand. That just doesn’t get me going at all.

But what does motivate me are storms. Of course right? And when it comes to reflections…I like the puddles of water leftover after a good rain. And even more specifically…I like to shoot them at sunset or in the early, cloudy morning. And finally…I need to be in the downtown, urban environment. I could have taken some shots in my driveway this week, but I wasn’t as inspired until I found myself in an abandoned parking lot. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the way it is.

It’s kind of a weird thing to shoot too. You wonder if people are looking at you funny. You are just walking around, tripod in hand…staring at the ground. From 100 feet away, I’ll bet it looks goofy as heck. I love it!

Now I love this shot I posted today, but honestly I think the plane makes it and I never even intended for it to be there. I just liked the pattern in the cement and the glimpse of some powerlines. But as I was bracketing the shot, this plane flew overhead and turned an okay image into some a bit more special for me.

And the reason I like shooting after it rains is the stormy clouds that you usually have and that awesome texture you get in the reflection. Swirls of light and dark…adds an element you can’t really control.

Superman

Clouds in the sky from an airplane

(click to see this a bit larger with a darker border)

Perhaps it may surprise you, or maybe it makes total sense, but when I was a kid and thought about what it would be like to have the powers of Superman…I didn’t care about x-ray or heat vision, or super strength, or super-breath or even super-speed.

No, it was the flying. And the picture above is kind of what I dreamed about seeing if I was ever given the gift of flight. Soaring through the clouds, getting to look at them up-close…it was awesome to think about.

So of course I had to link this image to Superman for Movie Title Wednesday. I actually don’t have the love for the movie like you might think considering I was three years old when it came out. When I did get around to liking superheroes and saw the film…it probably already seemed a little bit old to me. Regardless, the first big screen version of Superman was awesome and Christopher Reeve will always be remembered for it. The rest of the films haven’t been that amazing and the latest entry, Superman Returns, was ugh. I absolutely LOVE superhero films, so I’m praying the next release puts Superman back up there with the Iron Man, Spider-man and  Batman franchises.

This of course is another image from my flight to Little Rock a few weeks back. You may remember the previous one I posted, it’s similar to this one, but I think I like this one better. You’ll laugh at me for knowing ahead of time that we’d be hitting Oklahoma around late afternoon, severe weather was in the forecast, so I sat where I sat to get a nice view north. It was all still luck, but when I was looking out the window and saw the dark clouds looming ahead…I felt like I had set this up perfectly!

I’ve never had a flight like this and I dunno if I will again. But if I ever win the lottery or something, I’ll probably hire my own airplane to become my stormchasing vehicle and start shooting this stuff from the sky. Landscapes from the sky are just so epic and breathtaking…it would be fun to do more often.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/7.1, iso 100, 1/250th)

 

Up in the Air

Clouds storm updraft airplanes

(Click to see the image full-sized or so it fits your monitor)

It’s another Movie Title Wednesday and this one comes from the sky and a Southwest Airlines window seat. I can’t tell you how lucky I was to sit on this site of the plane…the other side I believe didn’t get to see the action in the clouds that I did.

First off…Up in the Air. A fantastic film starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. It’s such a brilliant film and really tells the story of what it’s like for some of these guys who are constantly and always traveling. It kind of resonates just a teeny bit with my frequency of work trips to Vegas lately. They never are home enough to even have a home, so their apartments sit empty aside from a few items and their main concern in life is how many miles they’ve collected. The job Clooney has is a brutal one and I can’t image ever doing that. I loved the film. Kendrick was brilliant as well, never really noticed her before until this movie. Check it out if you haven’t.

There is a memory I have from sometime in the past, maybe when I was younger, of being in a plane and suddenly passing by a towering thunderhead off the wing of the plane. There is something about your aircraft being 37,000 feet (or so) in the air and then passing by something that makes you feel so small. I’ve always remembered seeing that cloud and everytime I get on a plane, I’m wishing for that to happen again.

So of course, last week was awesome. The plane weaving through these treacherous skies, giant clouds exploding all around us. This one above was absolutely beautiful and could have been a supercell. Hard to tell from the ground, but the height was impressive.  I love this photo with just a bit of the wing making an appearance in the bottom right to get you an idea of scale.

Something that kind of befuddles me though. The shot is at ISO 100, but there is a lot of noise in the clouds. Might have been because of shooting through a window, but it’s still a bit strange.

I actually like the noise. And I’ve learned to accept a bit of grain in my images. I’ve noticed a few times when I’ve printed an photo with noise, it really doesn’t show up as much as it does on my computer screen. Also…using any noise reducer would have destroyed the gorgeous textures these clouds have going on.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 35mm, iso 100, f/8, 1/320th)

 

 

Air Produce

Downtown Phoenix Urban Building Airplane

The day before our chilly, 6am Urban Phoenix Photowalk takes place, figured I’d drop one more image from one of my excursions down there before Christmas. We’ll probably be walking by this building once again and I’m hoping to find something new and different about it that I missed before.

Before I go on…I figured I’d talk a bit about clouds. Not a surprise right?

My buddy Bob Lussier (whom I apparently am in love with since I’ve now linked to him twice this week) is just finishing up a series he calls “Off-Season.” It’s a fantastic look at what the wintery season looks like up in Massachusetts and the New England area when things close down. Check out one of his latest shots.

The reason I bring it up is because without the moody, cloudy skies, I don’t think he’d get the same “abandoned, off-season, winter” feelings that he conveys through those shots.

Clouds are important to the photography I enjoy. I hate blue skies. If I find a building or structure that I’m dying to shoot…I’m going to wait until I get the skies to go with it. The entire reason I was out the morning I took the above shot was the clouds. There is something magical and beautiful about the morning sun creating textures and depth in clouds like this. It draws me and moves me.

While I was setting up to take this shot, I noticed how close the airplanes were on their decent into Sky Harbor, so I waited to snap my brackets until another one was flying over. I like the image with or without the airplane, but I think it just adds something extra.

(exif: rebel xsi, tamron 17-35mm, 17mm, f/8.0, iso100)

Clouds over New York City

Sometimes taking photos from a plane just doesn’t amount to much afterwards. You really have to find a sky or a scene in front of you that is so unique that capturing it from a plane makes it amazing.

I don’t think this is close to that kind of photo, but what I do love is the angle I was able to get with the plane turning to the right as we headed to JFK in New York. The clouds were beautiful and up on the horizon they were moving left to right and forming storms as they made their way to the right, as you can see.

Just a fun view of a giant city, one that I’m fond of and would love going back to someday.

(You can see more photos from my trip to Holland by clicking on this tag: Holland Trip)

Scenes from the sky

I’m in Springfield, Missouri this week for work, which is making for very long days. Not only am I far away from home and missing Jina and Lyla, but for the most part I’m hanging with “strangers” for almost 12 hours a day, including breakfast, work, lunch, work and dinner. Most people know I like to keep to myself when I travel, so I can read, write and do whatever, so this has been tough so far (and it’s only Tuesday afternoon!).

So to break up the monotony of my day, I’m taking a break while everyone else scurries about to post a few pictures I took on the way up here.

I flew from Phoenix to Denver, where it was snowing and 34 degrees when I landed. On the way we flew over the Rocky Mountains, which had peaks dusted in new snow and lots of puffy clouds around. I absolutely loved seeing all the white and really got a kick out of the white stuff sprinkling down on the tarmac.

Here they are, hope you enjoy them as much as I did seeing it all from the plane!

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