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Branchless

June 30th last year down south of Tucson was such a surprising night. Shear was abnormally awesome. We saw a couple of supercells and one of them was this guy slowly moving over the Santa Rita Mountains. Love this branchless lightning...it starts off jagged but then gets that smooth, curved look that I really only see out on the plains most of the time. And that structure to the left...oh my

June 30th last year down south of Tucson was such a surprising night. Shear was abnormally awesome. We saw a couple of supercells and one of them was this guy slowly moving over the Santa Rita Mountains. Love this branchless lightning…it starts off jagged but then gets that smooth, curved look that I really only see out on the plains most of the time. And that structure to the left…oh my!

The Observer

An incredible, severe thunderstorm late in June, which is early for the monsoon to really get going, explodes over the Santa Rita Mountains. The storm itself looked like a plains supercell at times, even with a brief wall cloud. This lightning bolt is hitting on Mount Hopkins near the Lowell Observatory. The title comes from the little bird somehow flying up high in some crazy intense winds...seemingly having no earthly reason for being there.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2 l, iso 160, f/8.0, 15 sec // buy print)

An incredible, severe thunderstorm late in June, which is early for the monsoon to really get going, explodes over the Santa Rita Mountains. The storm itself looked like a plains supercell at times, even with a brief wall cloud. This lightning bolt is hitting on Mount Hopkins near the Lowell Observatory. The title comes from the little bird somehow flying up high in some crazy intense winds…seemingly having no earthly reason for being there.

Stormy sunset at Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach Sunset
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, blend // buy print)

I’d been to the Oregon coast about three times before our vacation to Cannon Beach and then four nights during our recent stay. In all that time this is the best sky I’ve had. It’s always been overcast and murky, which I love most other times, but I’ve been dying for color and stormy looking skies at sunset.

Even this one didn’t end up with the color you might hope for when the sun hit the horizon, but I dug it anyways because…well I love storms as you may know. The cloud on the left above the two little pillars of rock kept moving towards me and as the sun went down and I left the beach, I got hit with some pellet-size hail. It was cold and windy…even the surf blew up a few times into my lens and I had to clean it off. A beautiful, beautiful evening.

You may even be able to spot the first floating around the top of Haystack Rock.

I processed this image by manually blending with luminosity masks, which is a tough, tough system to understand and perfect. I’ve been using LM’s for awhile now, but mainly on single images. This was a four exposure blend to get the detail in Haystack, but also the clouds and sunset off in the distance. The blending is tough. But if you get it right, I think it looks amazing.

I love LM’s for this kind of thing because I feel it’s a way more natural result than HDR processing that I used way back in the day. Still learning and perfecting, but digging the results.

 

Welcomed sight

Storm Clouds Over Phoenix

(click to see the image fit on your screen with a black border, or larger if you have an insanely huge monitor)

The clouds in this picture are child’s play compared to what is coming or what I’ve already seen this year. But it doesn’t matter…I am excited about them anyways. We haven’t had rain or a storm here in Arizona in probably a month and nothing like the towering monsoon storms that we get during the summers.

Yesterday officially launched my 2011 stormchasing campaign. I had daughter-duty, so we grabbed toys, snacks, juice, dvd player, movies and whatever else I could think of to keep this kid occupied all afternoon/evening. I grabbed the umbrella (which I knew would be pointless), tripod, camera bag and we ran out the door around 4:30pm. I would realize later that I remembered everything except to change out of my flip-flop sandals into sneakers. Dumb.

There are big ants and sharp pointy objects in the desert…just an fyi.

This is why I love my daughter (well one of the bazillion reasons): Before we left I said to Lyla…“Okay, you ready to chase some storms and see some cool clouds?”

And I swear she goes, without prompting:

“And lightning!”

Love.Her. And she’s just two and a half.

As soon as we left, she looks up…“Daddy, look at the clouds!”

What a trooper. We didn’t get home until 9pm and visited not only south of town but then all the way up to the Beeline Highway/Bush Highway intersection northeast of Phoenix. She was having a ball and it suddenly made this summer seem like it might be a bit more fun on days I take her with me.

We saw some things, ran into my buddy Chris Frailey and shot a bit together, but mostly it was just clouds like this. Rain fell, reports of hail in town…but tiny, brief, isolated incidents. This weekend, especially Monday, looks to be huge and I’m pumped.

Oh, btw, the lower left has some birds flying in the distance, those aren’t dust spots *grin*

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/16, iso 100, 1/125)

The Birds

Sometimes when you look at a photograph quickly, you may not notice the subtle nuances about it. My buddy Mark Garbowski recently posted a shot called The Bowl on the Cobblestone Street…because the shot was so wide, so expansive, you might have missed a curious little bowl sitting in the middle of the road, which for me, kind of made the image unique.

Well, today is Movie Title Wednesday and I dubbed this photo The Birds, just in case you missed them on first glance. I left the image clickable to a larger size so you can see them better.

Alfred Hitchcock was a genius when it came to thrillers and scary movies, and The Birds was no exception. Terrifying, creepy…it’s probably up there with Jaws in how a couple of films caused an entire generation of people to freak out whenever they see a large gathering of ravens or a fin in the ocean (although, a fin in the ocean is good cause to freak out).

I saw that movie as a kid and the scene that always stands out is the end when all the birds are just sitting and watching them leave the house. It’s awesomely eerie.

So this is yet another image from the dog track, taken about 20 minutes or so before the amazing sunset we ended up with once we walked back inside. We had already explored the interiors of the place, then circled around outside. The overhang is what used to be the entrance to the place.

These freaking birds kept flying around randomly, and they looked so awesome against the clouds that I just waited until they appeared again to fire off some shots.

As I continue to go through these dog track shots, I can’t tell you how much fun I had being there that day with Rick and Scott. But what’s cool is that I get to keep processing images weeks after it happened…and so it’s kind of like getting to go back over and over.