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Reflections of the Monsoon

Monsoon Sunset Reflected
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/8, 1/15th // buy print)

If you follow my work, you may remember this epic looking, isolated thunderstorm from last year and also the timelapse that went with it. The storm was seen all over by tons of people…cell phone shots of the “UFO” cloud were sent in to all the news stations.

This is kind of the aftermath when it was fading away to nothing…but right as the sun was going down, when that gorgeous anvil cloud captured perfectly the colors of the sunset. We had a bit of a rain storm the day before so there was this massive puddle on the side of the road. Had to use it of course. You don’t get many chances for reflection shots like this in the middle of the desert.

It’s still one of those storms I wont soon forget and I’m dying to photograph some real weather again. The good news is that the monsoon season start date is just over a month away. Hurry on up already!

A lucky lightning strike at sunset

(click to see on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4, f/5.6, iso 200, 1/1000th // buy print)

If you watched my timelapse last week, then you’ve already seen this image. I also posted it it on 500px, so you may have seen it there too. But I felt like this still frame deserved it’s very own post on my blog because I absolutely love it and it’s why I am so obsessed with storm chasing.

One thing that’s always been true for me when I’m out chasing…is that I tend to get my best images where I least expect them. Last Thursday my goal was to blast down to Tucson right at sunset to shoot some lightning. That was my whole reason for going. And yet, I was stopped just short of Casa Grande when I saw this cloud turning into something amazing right before my eyes. Whatever I had planned down in Tucson suddenly evaporated and I knew this was the best thing going on at that moment.

It’s kind of what I dig about chasing the monsoon. And it also makes it hard sometimes. I leave the house a lot completely unsure of myself. Will I get anything tonight? Will it be a bust? How can I get something new or different? What if last season’s lightning barrage was it for me?

And then as I’m driving I see a cloud like the one above and I remember why I do this and how it usually works.

Just to speak about the image for a second. This was part of the timelapse as I said. So at this point in the capturing process, I was taking a photo every 4 seconds. The shutter speed was 1/1000th. I shot for around 40 minutes. And in that time I saw less than three lightning strikes.

And somehow…I got lucky enough to get one here. I mean…4 seconds apart at 1/1000th! The odds must be incredibly high. It makes me so incredibly proud of this one!

So thrilled to get this last week…on only my second day out chasing. Going to be a fun season!

Monsoons and Barbed Wire

I’ve been holding onto this one since late July for some reason. I just wasn’t sure about it. I actually have a version of it without the barbed wire, but for some reason I kind of like this a little better. You get a sense of what is happening in the background anyways, the cactus, the vegetation and the monsoon storms brewing in the background.

I had taken the original photo, was about to walk away and realized I liked the rusty old barbed wire and wanted to see what I could do with it. This is an HDR from about 5-6 brackets.

Lots of blur going on here, something I don’t really mess around with too much, so I’m curious how it comes across to people. Do you like the style or does it make your eyes water? 🙂

Northern Arizona stormy fenceline

This is another one of those shots from my northern Arizona trip that I didn’t process for a long time. I normally like my skies less rain-cloudy and more fluffy cumulus, but I dug the backdrop and corner fence posts in the foreground.

Definitely was a fruitful trip in the way of photography for me, despite being there for work. Got very lucky with the stormy weather up north, got to see Grand Falls, amazing parts of the northern Arizona high deserts and came away with a ton of quality stuff. Amazing how a little trip like that, with almost no planning, can lead to such beneficial and memorable results!

Stormchasing: A long fence

Here’s another shot of a cool barbed wire fence in the sandy hills of Nebraska during a severe weather outbreak. The clouds are scary here, in fact, on the horizon just left of the fence, you can see a dark area that almost looks like a funnel dropping behind the hills. In fact, I was standing with a few other guys and we all thought it WAS a funnel, so within a second of taking this shot, I had ran into the truck and headed north.

But the reason I love this photo is more of the fence starting on the left and disappearing into the center of the frame than of the clouds. I do enjoy how HDR can make clouds look almost like a painting when processed a certain way, which I think kind of works here.

Stormchasing: Trees and Fences

Still running through my photos from my stormchasing trip to Nebraska on Saturday (plus photos from things other than storms, can’t wait to post a few of those later on), so wanted to dump a few more on you.

I do so love trees, especially isolated ones in the middle of nowhere. The photo above has a little baby tree, some cattle off on the right side of the frame and a giant cloud crossing the sky. It was an ominous scene.

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The mattress

This was another spectacle on my drive to Grand Falls that caused me to flip the car around and head back to the side of the road.

Where did it come from? Did someone toss it to the side of the road whilst moving at 80 mph? Did it just blow in from the land to the left of the road, where nothing existed?

How long has it been there and no one taken it down? You’d think a police officer or national forest ranger would make it a point to remove this unsightly obstruction. I’m glad they didn’t.

I thought it was amazing. I love the randomness of things, those out of place (if you can find them and notice them) objects or scenes that speak to you. Here’s a beautiful, northern Arizona landscape, with low hills, gorgeous clouds…and stuck to a long barbed wire fence is an old, trashed mattress  trying to entice you into taking a second look.

Well it worked.