Not gonna lie…I enjoy getting close to lightning. Yeah, I’ll hide in the truck when my cameras are shooting…but I just really enjoy the close bolts and all the detail in them.
Yesterday was fun in the afternoon down southeast of Tucson…got some nice daytime bolts, enjoyed some flash flooding near Corona de Tucson…but after that, with storms in all directions except for where I was in Tucson…I couldn’t decide. West…east…north closer to home. Ugh. Went north, it sucks, went back to Tucson…pulled over, took a shot, then it was insane rain everywhere and I was done.
But storms popped over Phoenix while I was down there and so I was hoping to get lucky on the way home. Lightning was hitting Maricopa and near Sacaton north of me, so I setup on 187 and was hoping to get a bolt striking nearby up I-10 (which is where the car light trails are in the photo). But I setup the 50mm first and looked away as my buddy Chris Frailey pulled up, then looked back and suddenly a massive CG hit what felt like right in front of me. I stumbled as I raced to the car to get the wide angle, and two more bolts slammed down in the meantime. They were landing just about 1-2 miles away.
I got the 11-24mm ready, set to 15mm, calmly focused, f/8, iso 100, set it up, hit the shutter and BOOM this happened and then that was it haha.
25 second exposure, it all hit at once (other than the distance left one) and it was magnificent. Been waiting for a monster bolt like this for awhile now.
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
On July 9th, 2018, I woke up in Blythe, California, and checked the forecast one more time and it confirmed what I already knew the day before: the potential for an awesome storm rolling west down Interstate 8 was looking pretty good. And with that came the likelihood of a dust storm, or haboob. I already had the entire day’s route planned out…I’d hit south near the border towns of Sells and Santa Rosa, then head back north to I-8 to catch the storm outflows from Phoenix and central Arizona.
Rarely does a forecast come to fruition so perfectly…but this one did. I chased some good severe storms in the far southern portions of the state, and then headed north…hitting the town of Chuichu south of I-8 just as things got rolling. A big microburst kicked up a wall of dust that would move west and eventually merge with other, strong storms that rolled through Phoenix.
We jumped on I-8 and got west out of the dust and pulled over first at Vekol Road, my favorite spot along that freeway. The wall of dust was incredibly impressive…shelf cloud over it, the dust connecting right into the cloud base…it was amazing.
It was around 5:00pm at that point…and the chase would continue, for hours, all the way to Yuma. One of my final shots came around 8:30pm in the area of Ligurta. All told, around 140 miles and three and a half hours of chasing. Never have I chased a wall of dust for that long. Or been chased!
Besides July 5th, 2011…this was hands down, the best haboob I’ve ever seen. So many shapes and sizes. Incredibly density and definition. And the colors at sunset. Magnificent.
The film has all the clips from start to finish…somewhat in order, but not always. The microburst at the start was in Chuichu and the final scene was Ligurta.
It was fun to not only share this with some other chasers all having the time of their lives, but also with two of my kiddos. What an experience to have together!
Hope you enjoy this, and the music by Ryan Taubert.
I shot around 5,000 frames on two Canon 5DSR’s for this. Lenses were the Canon 11-24mm and 50mm 1.2.
Edited with Lightroom, LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro.
Yesterday didn’t seem like anything too exciting. Started south of town early afternoon, dust storm was weak, came home, picked up the kids and we decided to play the storms out west by Tonopah because I had a feeling that the action would end up propagating out there. Things got more intense with strong downbursts near the Salome Highway/I-10 intersection as an outflow boundary progressed northward.
The storms started forming over me as I raced towards the town of Aguila, dodging donkeys along the way while marveling at the sunset light that was beginning to shine on everything. As I started making it on the north side of the storms, my cell data returned and I realized the storms I had raced under were intense. I was looking up at the cloud above me and suddenly saw shelfy structure…and when I pulled over, it looks like a supercell for a moment. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
But the most insane thing to me was the green. I’ve never seen green like this in Arizona ever. It was so intense. I was standing there in disbelief that a seemingly average day would suddenly go supernova to have this huge storm with a green hail core. And to make it even more incredible, as it moved towards me, the sunset light somehow exploded and I was just in completer and utter awe.
This image is a tough one for me…I edited it just like I do all the others. Layers of contrast, a teeny bit of vibrance added…but the colors were so whack, I think people will be asking (and have been on Twitter already) if it’s legit. It looked like this to me standing there. Yeah, I edit stuff to look good, but I really tried not to make it look different than it did. I love it
A stunner of a sunset on August 23rd last year out along Vekol Road. I was flying down there, exited the freeway and of course my buddy John Sirlin beat me there by five minutes. Such an incredible sight…the colors were intense and the bolts were everywhere. This was my favorite one from this spot…we left west after it got dark and shot more lightning near Gila Bend and then up in Sun City West even later in the night. One of the top days chasing last summer!
So fond of Matt and Alyssa. From a wonderful engagement session up in Cave Creek to this beautiful wedding at Desert Foothills. I’ve shot at this venue a ton now…never gets old!
A new image from this past August 25th in southern AZ, looking out over Interstate 10 from the Marsh Station overpass. This storm was one of the highlights of the 2017 monsoon. Sat here for over an hour, with not much rain, enjoying a spectacular view of the sunset with lightning between us. Can’t ask for much better than that!
Back in 2015 west of Gila Bend, near the Paloma Dairy I saw one of the most extraordinary sunsets I’ve ever witnessed during the monsoon. Dust was blowing across the ground. The sky lit up in all shades of orange. Lightning in the distance. It was astounding.
Ended up being a beautiful time-lapse! But here’s a frame from that time-lapse, complete with a nice little lightning bolt to top off a gorgeous scene.
A favorite wedding from last year that I finally got around to blogging (thanks Joanna)! Mike and Lia were so amazing to work with, from a beautiful engagement session in Sedona to this wonderful day at Wrigley Mansion.
Thank you both for being a blast and I hope to see you guys again down the road!