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15 Seconds

15 Seconds
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/11, iso 200, 15 sec // buy print)

July 31st was a pretty amazing night for lightning. This storm just exploded over Wickenburg and didn’t move much and didn’t send any outflows at me. I just sat around for almost an hour capturing bolt after bolt.

This was only a 15-second exposure, but there are six strikes plus maybe a seventh off-camera. An amazing display of power…it’s the kind of lightning-fests I live for!

Lightning over the Rincons

Rincon Lightning
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 f/2.8 is l, 70mm, iso 125, f/8, 8 sec // buy print)

The monsoon moisture is just around the corner, so I’m all kinds of excited and looking back at old images I never posted.

Here’s one from the Rincon Mountains last July 1st. Was early in the season and a spectacular lightning show for an hour or so. Can’t wait for more of this next week!

Wall of dust

Wall
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 100, 1/640th // buy print)

A lost (or unposted) image from back in July of 2012. This was a crazy good dust storm resulting in a couple of nice timelapses for me personally. You can see one here. I was capturing that while I took this photo.

Was an uber dense storm…once it hit, the freeway behind me was completely empty and it felt like I was in some post-apocalyptic world for a few minutes.

Can’t wait for summer.

 

Electricity over Sierra Vista

LIghtning over Sierra Vista
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L, 70mm, iso 160, f/8, 13 sec // buy print)

This was taken on the night before I left for Africa last summer. I was determined to get as as many storm images as possible since I was going to be gone for 10 days, and so that goal compelled me to chase all the way down to Sierra Vista on this night.

I have to say, it was worth it. This southern Arizona town was getting blasted with lightning bolts and I had a nice perch just north of town along highway 82. This particular storm did have some interesting looks to it, even at one time having supercell appearance. Definitely love this shot…mean looking storm and two cloud-piercing bolts.

A sliding rock out on Race Track Playa

Impact
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 50, 1/6th, f/16 // buy print)

The hard part about doing brief, 2-3 day trips to awesome places, is wishing you had more time. When we arrived at Race Track Playa, it was just over an hour until sunset. In reality, it would have been nice to be there many, many hours earlier to scout spots and looks for the perfect compositions.

Race Track Playa is huge. You start walking from the car, you go 15-20 minutes, and you realize you’ve barely crossed 1/4 of the lake. And the good stuff is waaaay in the distance. The size of the lake bed is deceiving.

I set up a timelapse to run for sunset, which makes it kind of hard to wander away and shoot other things. You really want to make sure that timelapse is going well. Still, I ended up making my way to this giant-ish rock sitting out on the damp part of the playa. I LOVED this spot. The rock itself was bigger than most I saw out there, and the trail behind it almost made it appear to be the crash site of a meteor. Granted, a very soft landing!

The sunset wasn’t spectacular, so I opted for black and white here. I don’t see many monochrome shots from Race Track, but I think this kind of alien landscape really shines when it’s devoid of color.

The end of the road

End of the Road
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2, f/8, iso 125, 15 sec // buy print)

I love middle of the road shots…but rarely do I get a chance to have lightning bolts striking at the other end! I sat here for a good 15-20 minutes capturing bolt after bolt…and this turned out to be the best of the bunch.

This was back on August 18th out in Buckeye…a night I’ll always remember because of the amount of lightning that I captured in a span of two hours within a 10 square mile area. I barely moved the entire evening.

Out of the cloud

Out of the Cloud
(please click to view this image on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 160, f/8.0, 15 sec // buy print)

Last season I captured a brief timelapse of a thunderhead building up with lightning illuminating it from the inside. What made it awesome was the moonlight. The moon was almost full and thus the cloud was already visible with the naked eye even though it was well past dark. It made it extra awesome because you could already see the cloud building almost as if it were daytime, and then the lightning as also visibly illuminating the cloud as well.

Since that night I so badly wanted to capture some storms with the moon nearing fullness. And on October 17th, it finally happened.

I was out on Interstate 8 near Gila Bend shooting north when I look behind me and see this line of storms building. What’s so awesome is that normally, without the moonlight, I likely wouldn’t have seen it very well…and maybe missed it entirely. But with that extra light, I could see the cloud plain as day. One section started growing larger, so I aimed that way and waited.

Even more interesting was the fact that this cloud didn’t even seem that big. But boom! Bolts started raining down. Standing there it almost felt like the strikes themselves were just as tall as the cloud. I’ve never captured lightning from a such a small storm before…I couldn’t even believe it produced anything.

Definitely one of my favorite shots from 2013.

The Boise City supercell

The Boise City Supercell
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 2.5 sec // buy print)

I’ve been saving this image for awhile. It was taken during my storm chasing trip in early June of this year…and posting it kind of closes the chapter on that time. And what a time it was for me personally. Capturing that Booker supercell on timelapse and the way it was received turned that trip into one of the most important moments of my life.

And thus…sharing this photograph basically ends what I have to share from those three days. So I’ve been putting it off.

Beyond that though…I love this photo. I almost didn’t want to share it (might be hard to understand). It’s every reason I went out there. To see stuff like this. Yes, the Booker Supercell was incredible. The images of it with the orange backlight are surreal and I’m still astounded that I was there to capture that storm.

But this photo…once I started working on the black and white version of it, I fell in love with it.

Leading up to capturing this image, it felt like the day was going to be a bust. This was the day after Booker. We sat in the eastern Oklahoma Panhandle for most of the day, waiting for something to happen. But we got that target wrong. Storms to our west and northwest, in COLORADO, were going nuts and moving down into the Panhandle.

I take credit for this storm because at one point I said to Andy “F it…we’re going west until we catch those storms or they die out. Let’s go.”

And we blasted west. And we caught up to them.

We did make another mistake though, which was to sit too far to the east of this storm waiting for it to come to us. We definitely should have gotten closer and to the southeast of it right away.

But then I wouldn’t have been able to get this photo I don’t think. As it kept traveling southeast, we went southwest and met up with it right here. Driving down deserted farm roads…I told Andy I had to stop and grab this real quick.

Moments before it hadn’t looked as good as this and then suddenly…bam, this gorgeous supercell with sick structure was hanging over the road.

I couldn’t believe we were seeing one of these again, they very next day after Booker. I’d made three trips before to the plains to chase and had never caught anything remotely close to this and now we struck gold TWO DAYS IN A ROW.

Needless to say…that trip continues to live on in my memory. Not sure any future ones will ever equal it.

But you can always hope.

In the Hills

In the Hills
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200mm f/2.8 l, 70mm, f/8.0, 8 sec, iso 125 // buy print)

Some of the best lightning I photographed this past summer all happened on July 1st, super early in the monsoon season. This was another image over the Rincon Mountains southeast of Tucson.

I rarely use the 70-200 for lightning images these days. As much as it seems like it would be useful, even a sturdy tripod has a hard time keeping it perfectly still during thunderstorm outflow winds. Hence limiting this exposure to only 8 seconds. Plus it was at  70mm anyways, not the full zoom.

Most of the time if I try to zoom in to 200mm and photograph lightning, it’s not going to be tack sharp like a 50mm. I plan on using a 135mm next year to see how that goes.

Besides, I like to be a lot closer to the lightning and if I’m a 200mm-focal length away, it’s too far 🙂

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This print is part of my Square Collection, which you can see right here

Crawlers over the Rincons

Crawlers over the Rincons
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 24mm, f/8, iso 100, 25 sec // purchase print)

I snagged a bunch of fun lightning images way back on July 1st over the Rincon Mountain southeast of Tucson. I had been timelapsing from A-Mountain, but decided to fly southeast when I saw storms moving down from the the northeast.

It was a fantastic spot to be in because the storms just marched right at me for over an hour. The lightning was striking behind the Rincons for awhile, but finally it began to move to my side of the mountain range and the show got better.

This was one of the bolts that night. Rare for me to have one like this…a strike hitting the ground along with giant crawlers across the sky. This was a 25-second exposure, so I don’t remember if this was all a single strike or if they happened at different times during the exposure. But I love seeing the mountains looking kinda small in the lower left of the frame and then how simply massive the crawlers were to stretch across the sky. .