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The city in the water

Motion, Tracks and Buildings - Downtown Phoenix Reflections

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/5.0, iso 100 // buy print)

There are two very different storm seasons in Phoenix. In the summer, it’s all monsoons and thunderstorms. The rest of the year, it’s just random winter-ish storms that roll through. The summers bring lightning, the winters bring rain.

So in the summers, I go outside of the Phoenix area to chase the weather. In the winters, I head downtown.

One thing I really ended up finding amazingly fun and rewarding was pointing my camera downwards at these giant puddles of water after a winter storm. And I like my images to be of the darker, stormier variety, so I try to do this when it’s dusk and the sun is going down.

It’s not easy…the chance of rain anytime here is usually slim, and then to hope the puddles last until sunset…well, it all makes it a rare occurrence. But I’ve been able to find the opportunity twice now and each time I’ve fallen in love with this kind of composition.

The above photo is the surface of a random parking garage. Tire tracks fly across the image. Two large buildings rise against the dark, angry evening clouds. In fact, it was in the midst of raining off and on at this point, I just happened to catch a break in the action.

This is an HDR image, so you may notice the bit of motion on the surface of the water. That was just some bubbles from a passing car, which I decided to leave alone and not fix.

The Two Towers

Two Towers Downtown Phoenix Chase Freeport McMoran

Without realizing what I’ve been doing, this has become the second Lord of the Rings movie to be featured on Movie Title Wednesday in the last few weeks. I guess I’m sub-consciously excited for the June 28th release of the entire extended edition version of the trilogy on Blu-Ray for the first time. It’s been pre-ordered for months and soon I’ll be camped out on the sofa for about 12 straight hours.

I’m going to have a heck of time finding an image to represent Return of the King. I dunno if I can do it.

This week we’re going with The Two Towers for obvious reasons. The movie is of course awesome. There are two parts in the film that I could watch over and over and over and…well…over. The charge of the Ents onto Isengard. Wow.

“The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.” – Treebeard

I get chills just thinking about that scene. The other is the appearance of Gandalf and the Riders of Rohan towards the end. So much love for this film. But I could babble all day.

So the image above. On the left is the Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix that I’ve shot a lot since moving down here, and the other is the Freeport McMoran. I ventured downtown on May 18th after a good rainstorm came through, which granted me another chance at some stormy reflection shots and dark skies for architecture shooting. I got stuck in a few spots when it suddenly started raining and I had to hide myself and my camera under a parking garage or two.

But wow do I love being down there shooting during dark weather as the sun is going down. It’s inspiring.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/5.0, iso 100)

 

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower - Chase Tower Downtown Phoenix

(click the image to view full size for your resolution, or if you have a humongous monitor, see it larger!)

Ah yes…rain in Phoenix. It’s always awesome. I can be completely “blah” about photography for whatever reason…long days at work, tiredness, blue skies, no motivation, you name it. But rain arrives, stormy skies ensue and suddenly nothing can stop me from getting out and exploring the world.

If you’ve followed me for long, you may have seen a shot or two of Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix. I didn’t go down there last night with the intention of shooting it however. I was looking for reflections again, but as I walked in front of this thing I was just struck by the contrast of colors and so of course I stopped and snapped away.

The clouds up top were moving in and after about 10 minutes it started pouring. But the lower portion of the building showed a few patches of blue sky left behind me and that dynamic was just too compelling to pass up.

I did add a few fun reflection shots to my ongoing series, so I can’t wait to process those down the road.

We’re headed out to Memphis today for our family vacation. As it would happen to be, Memphis is on the edge of having some severe weather this Saturday and after having missed out on most of that last week, I am hoping to get away for an hour or so to snap some great weather photos whilst in Tennessee!

I may be a bit absent on the Twitter/Blog front while we’re gone, so have a great week everyone and keep on shooting.

(exif info: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 21mm, f/16, iso 100)

 

The Town

Downtown Phoenix Reflections

(A much better view can be had by clicking to see with a black border and slightly larger!)

This is probably the first time that a Movie Title Wednesday film has been something so recent. That could mainly be due to the fact I don’t SEE as many movies as I used to what with a kid and all. Before Lyla, my wife and I would tend to see around 1-2 movies a month, always on Saturday mornings with the elderly folks at the earliest possible showing. It’s less crowded, more quiet and then we could always come back home after and taken a nice little nap.

Ah…the good ol’ days when we were just kids.

The Town stars Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner, along with the awesome mad man himself, John Hamm. Fantastic movie, I love that it was set in Boston and it’s one of the best movies Affleck has done in awhile. I really liked how it revolved around what it claimed to be a true story about robbery families being a part of the history of Charleston. There are some really tense scenes, and it reminded me a lot of the film Heat, one of my all-time favs.

Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

This image is the final one from my downtown Phoenix reflection series. That series could get a sequel down the road if we ever again see a drop of rain, but for now, this is the last entry. And I couldn’t be more proud of it and the entire series. In fact, this week I will be showing six pieces of art down at First Fridays from 6-10pm at the New City Gallery (more info here) and three of the images are a part of this series. The entire theme will be downtown Phoenix and I’m so excited about doing something way different than the last time I showed.

I will be there from around 6:30pm onwards, so if you happen to live close by, I would love to see you again, or meet you for the first time, whatever. There are going to be some other great artists, live music and food/wine. It’s a great night to be downtown and is also going to be the last of the New City Gallery’s First Fridays until the fall.

My wife saw the above image and asked if I did a texture overlay on it or something, because the reflection kind of makes it hard to tell. But no, this is just a puddle of water over a concrete slab with some awesome stains on it. I especially love the glowing “rift” near the top that was likely some leaked oil at some point now a part of the surface.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/10)

The Remains of the Day

(Please click on the photo to see it larger…my lightbox plugin gets lonely sometimes)

Today’s Movie Title Wednesday film may be obscure for some of you out there. In fact, it’s kind of obscure for me too considering I only saw it once and it came out in 1993. My wife (then girlfriend) and I worked together at a movie theater back in those days and so we’d pretty much see everything that came out as long as the reviews were decent.

The Remains of the Day was a classic, well-done film. At least, I remember thinking it was one of the good ones. Check out the rating it has on IMDB…8.0…that’s high. I don’t remember much about it other than Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson were in it and it was one of those period-piece movies that not as many people go to see as they should.

My wife and I used to crave seeing stuff like that and it kind of makes me miss those good ol’ days. If you want to broaden your horizons a little bit, check it out…the performances are superb.

This photo is part of my little “Reflection” series that I started last week with a shot called “Criss Cross.” The movie’s plot doesn’t necessarily correlate too well with the image above, but the name of it certainly has quite a few layers of meaning.  The shot was taken after a rainstorm in downtown Phoenix after the sun had just disappeared. So you can kind of see the rain being a “remnant” of the day’s storm. It also should be fairly easy to connect the number “24” to a certain amount of hours in a day. There might be a few other links to the title, but I’ll let you make your own conclusions.

If anyone wonders how close I was to changing this series to TV Title Wednesdays so I could use a certain show starring Jack Bauer…it was definitely on my mind. *grin*

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/10, iso 100)

Criss Cross

Criss Cross - Downtown Phoenix Reflections Rain

(image looks sharper and clearing by clicking on it to view in lightbox)

I rarely do “series” on my blog, because if I do they just get strung out for weeks at a time since I like to change things up on a daily basis. At that point it’s hard to keep track of them. But yesterday I started an “Over the Fence” series and today this is kind of the beginning of what will start out as a small “Phoenix Reflections” series.

Last week after we had a rare moment of rain, I decided to head downtown around dusk to get some reflection shots. My Dark City image last week was the first shot I took, but then I forced myself to start looking “down” instead of “up” or “out.”

Sometimes if you want to stay on task, you just have to make yourself focus.

So I found a nice, flat parking lot full of large puddles and started exploring their reflections. It was a beautiful time of evening, with the sun having just set, some murky clouds hanging around and awesome contrast in the asphalt with the striping. I made it a goal to keep the reflections based around the buildings around me.

Had a lot of fun and wished this particular moment in time had lasted three hours instead of 20 minutes.

I have a few more shots from that night, but this may become an ongoing series depending on the frequency of rain we get here…so it may be months *grin*

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 27mm, f/10, iso 100)

Dark City

(click on the image above to see it fit to your desktop resolution…and view it in a nicely framed lightbox)

I’m a huge science fiction movie fan. Not really so much the silly stuff that’s out there, but more of the solid, make-you-think kind of films, like Primer, Children of Men or Moon. When I completed this image and decided to use it for Movie Title Wednesday, I actually was thinking Inception at first, but without realizing it, I had been saying the true title to myself over and over while staring at it.

Dark City.

First off, I need to be honest. I saw the movie a long time ago and most of what I remember is that Keifer Sutherland was in it…it was dark and the ending was awesome. Oh, and I liked it. But I forgot everything else. I had to look up the plot again on IMDB just to remind myself. I even failed to remember that Jennifer Connelly was in it…and that’s hard to do.

If you haven’t seen it and love great sci-fi, go rent it asap. Almost everyone I know who has seen it thought it was brilliant. It’s kind of a cult classic in the way that not everyone knows about it but at the same time has a huge following. Like Firefly.

Also, if you haven’t seen Primer, Children of Men or Moon…well, rent them too.

This photo comes from two nights ago after it rained for half the day. I was hoping it would start clearing up before the sun went down and I got lucky. What I love about weather…is that even if I’m in the most urban of environments, I can still include it in my images. The leftover puddles…the clouds. I basically left home with the idea to find reflections in puddles wherever I could and I can’t wait to post the other shots I got from this night.

One last thing about this image. It’s HDR. It’s kind of dark. There are details you can’t see because of the shadows. And I love it. Don’t be afraid to process your high dynamic range images with details lost  in shadows. I know it seems counter-intuitive to capture the entire light range of a scene and then not show it all…but I urge you to give it a shot.

Also, I shot this with my 50mm 1.4. I *heart* that lens.

Morning Reflected

Sunrise Reflected Chase Tower Downtown Phoenix

Yes, it’s another shot of Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix. I’ve taken a few different views and angles of this thing, but none of were taken in the early morning hours as the sun was rising. I photographed this back on December 22nd.

My buddy Rick Young told me months before that I gotta get down there for a sunrise once because the reflection will be amazing.

You were right my friend.

I definitely feel like I need to plan a few more early-mornings out before the sun comes up. Lately I end up being too tired, so I stick to later in the day/sunsets instead. But my last trip out to the Superstitions on January 31st was in the morning and I loved it.

I’m hoping that the weather is awesome this weekend and perhaps another morning drive will be in order.

The Towering Inferno

I’ve never seen The Towering Inferno, but considering it stars Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, it’s probably a good flick. It arrived in theaters sometime in 1974, a full year before I was even born. Despite not ever seeing it, I’ve heard the  name multiple times and it was the film that came to my mind when I was looking at this image for Movie Title Wednesday.

I’ve posted a few shots of Chase Tower since moving downtown (here and here), but I end up going back to it when the background and reflections will be different. One day I will probably have a series of images from this very spot with varying types of weather backdrops.  This was sunrise on Tuesday morning and I wasn’t sure if I had missed it or not, but I headed up to the top of a nearby parking garage and suddenly the sky behind (and to the southwest) of the building exploded in a beautiful orange plume of color. Not only that, but the sky to the east of it was also lit up, so you get a reflection off the building.

There is something so simple and stark about a building framed against a sky with nothing else around it. Almost feels unreal… isolated…lonely. I love it.

Been a great week for weather in Phoenix…amazing morning and evening skies, rainy, gray clouds…and more to come.

Up in the Air

(Rebel XSI, Tamon 17-35 2.8, 24mm, ISO200, F5, 1/1600)

So this post title has changed since I published it just over an hour ago. I told my wife that I went with Far and Away as the movie title for this image, and she said…”Hmmm, I would have gone with Up in the Air.”

Argh! She’s always right, she’s better at this than me…and I’ve decided that now I will run all my Movie Title Wednesday photos past her first to make sure I pick the right film.

Thus, for the first time in the history of this series, I’m completely changing the name of the movie AFTER I’ve published the article. First off, I am not sure how much I really liked Far and Away anyways…but Up in the Air was brilliant. George Clooney and an awesome cast…a story about a guy who does nothing but travel on an airplane for most of his life, an empty apartment with nothing in it and failed relationships. This is a relatively newer movie compared to other ones I choose, so if you haven’t seen it, go check it out. Awesome stuff.

And of course, the film’s title is a great one to describe a photograph of one of the more iconic downtown Phoenix buildings, Westward Ho. It was built in 1928 when it was the the tallest structure in Arizona.

I just love the building. In fact, I plan on trying to finagle my way into some interior areas of the place because I know it’s gotta hold some secrets.

I snapped this photo right before a shoot at the Civic Space Park. The clouds were just amazingly fluffy and the sun was playing off them beautifully. There is nothing more beautiful to me than soft, cotton-candy-clouds like this, especially with a foreground as iconic as this one.