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Near Cordes Junction

Near Cordes Junction
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2 l, f/8, iso 100, 15 sec // buy print)

I’ve discovered a love for lightning up north of Phoenix between Sunset Point and Camp Verde. The storms always seem intense up there and the lightning was crazy again last night.

I arrived a bit too late for the entire show, but I managed to capture a couple of strikes over the hills northeast of Cordes Junctions.

Usually I want to find an area with a clear view of landscapes without any man-made objects in the way…but you can always help that and I actually dig the way the powerlines balance out the bottom of the image above.

 

Close

Close
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 f/2.8 is l, 200mm, f/6.3, iso 200, 10 sec // buy print)

Rarely do I get to play around when I’m shooting lightning. Usually storms last only so long before you have to run to the next one. That being the case, I tend to try and get my best composition setup and hope for a great strike.

On the 18th though…there was so much lightning and I sat at one spot for so long…I started getting bored and decided to play around. Yeah, bored. Okay, not bored…I mean, it was AMAZING. But in terms of photos…I had enough from a few angles and with the 50mm and the 35mm…so I decided to instead slap on the ol’ zoom and see what happened.

I went to an extreme 200mm focal length and tried to zero in on where I saw some strikes landing. My entire goal here was to just capture the impact area and totally ignore the top 2/3rds of the strike. It’s not always easy to do that because you kinda have to get lucky with a strike in such a small zone.

But it paid off. In fact I have a few of these. I loved this one because you see one of the filaments of the strike off on the left, with no connection to the main bolt. It gives you an idea just how close we are here and also how much higher the bolt actually goes out of frame.

 

Playground of the Gods

Dance of the Gods
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark 3, canon 50mm f/1.2 l, f/5.6, iso 50, 30 seconds // buy print)

Yesterday was July 1st and the monsoon was in full-effect. I’m so excited about the fact that it’s really heating up semi-early this year since I’m headed to Africa on the 11th and would like to get in as much chasing as I can!

The lightning show yesterday over the Rincon Mountains was insane. I was there for about two hours, watching the storms behind the mountains slowly roll over the TOPS of them and then the bolts started raining down in every nook and cranny of those hills.

Not sure why, but the lightning was so intense that I dropped my ISO down to 50 for this shot and the bolt on the left is STILL blown out in a few places. But I love the utter chaos here with the three strikes nailing the tops of the mountain and the rest of the bolts just going everywhere.

More to come!

The Twilight Zone

The road ahead
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 500, f/18, 1.3 sec // buy print)

Nothing I like better than a spooky, dark, cloudy scene when it’s storming. Here is one of my favorite roads in all of Arizona…it’s popular of course, for obvious reasons. The long road extending downwards towards the Superstitions in the distance.

One of the cooler spots in Arizona.

I captured this back in February of last year…a beautifully dark winter storm was blowing through and thus I hit the road as per usual. The one thing that seems to pop out in this image to make it extra-special to me is that one headlight. Something about it is ominous and when I looked at it again this morning, the title “Twilight Zone” just popped into my head.

Ahhhh, I’m dying for some stormy weather…monsoon season just over a month away.

Thunder on the Bradshaws

Thunder over the Bradshaws
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 19mm, iso 50, f/18, 3.2 sec // buy print)

Someday I’d love a cabin in the middle of nowhere that overlooked a wide, expanding valley such as this one. On late summer afternoons, I’d sit on the porch and watch distant storms head my way over the mountains, the thunder cracking in the distance and rolling over the hills. I wouldn’t grab a camera or my phone or anything…I’d just sit back and soak up the beauty of what God made for us.

Maybe someday.

The Astoria-Megler Bridge

Astoria_Megler Bridge
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 50, 123 seconds // buy print)

I had never heard of the Astoria-Megler Bridge until we stumbled across it on our vacation a month ago to Cannon Beach. We drove north to check out the Peter Iredale shipwreck and then also the town of Astoria itself. But when I was passing by this bridge and saw all the wooden supports scattered around, I apologized to my wife and flipped a u-turn.

It was an overcast day, so I opted for a long exposure and black & white processing. I loved that bridge. We drove over it later and it was kind of creepy to just suddenly be that high over the water…and then further down you can see it drop again and is level with the ocean. Creepier still was the fog that left us driving towards Washington but seeing nothing ahead of a road going into grey and water on each side.

I loved the Cannery Pier Hotel on the left side and while I was intending to shoot only the bridge, I ended up really digging this comp. It helps give you an idea on the size of the bridge as a comparison.

Oregon…endless possibilities of things to shoot there. I feel so blessed that I’ve been able to spend time in that state.

Isolated

Impact
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 200, f/6.3, 25 sec // buy print)

Last summer I decided to take a few of my favorite, semi-isolated lightning strikes and turn them into a black & white, “square” collection just for fun. I’ve seen another guy’s work where his lightning strikes are almost solely square crops and I dig that style.

I’ve posted a few already since the monsoon season ended in 2012 (click here to see the others), but I think this is my favorite of the bunch.

I am not sure I can really tell you why either. I know that I love being up high and seeing lightning strike between mountains. That is something I always strive for. It gives a sense of distance and power. But what I also love about this one is the clouds above the strike. I would have a hard time describing to someone the specific kinds of clouds I like when I storm chase, but there is something about these coupled with the strike that I find awesome.

This was from east of Mammoth, Arizona last year…that single storm churned out about three of my favorite lightning images from 2012.

 

Roadside | Oklahoma & Texas

A few weeks ago we found out my wife’s grandfather passed away. Because air fare at the last minute was expensive for our family of four, we decided to drive the 927 miles to Alva, Oklahoma instead.

We had our two kids in the back and it was a long drive, so stopping to get out of the car and take photos was pretty much out of the question. But when we hit Texas and then Oklahoma, we ended up off the Interstate and started passing these old towns with abandoned buildings. I love that kind of stuff and so badly wanted to take some shots.

So I decided to be quick about it. I would roll down the window, stop, take a quick photo, and keep driving. We were already going 35mph so it wasn’t much of a time-suck. Sometimes I didn’t even stop all the way. The train image was actually my wife holding the wheel while I snapped away.

Was fun to do something different. There are some other things here besides buildings, but mostly I was looking for symmetry and decay. Hope you enjoy.

The first five photos were taken on our way there and it was completely foggy and overcast. The rest are from the trip home.

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

The Peter Iredale Shipwreck | Oregon Coast

The Peter Iredale Shipwreck
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/16, 119 sec, b+w 10-stop // buy print)

Last week my wife and I took a much needed mommy-daddy ONLY vacation up to the Oregon coast. No kids, no worries…just relaxing in a beach house, reading, eating good food and seeing the sights. I miss it already.

This is the Peter Iredale shipwreck. It ran ashore back in 1906 meaning it’s been sitting there for over 106 years. Incredible. Slowly over the years it’s been buried and worn away from ocean waves, wind and probably vandals. It was amazing to me how it’s there without protection. No ropes, no fences, no nothing. In fact a Toyota pickup was just off camera to the left here by about 50 feet. The guy was clamming out in the waves. I was surprised you could just drive right by it and park.

It’s a lot bigger than you would think from a picture…at the high point there it’s about 15-18 feet. It was kind of crazy walking from our car over a bluff and seeing it for the first time. No words to describe it. Looking at something that has been in the same place for 106 years and is slowly disappearing was magical and thought-provoking.

When we were planning this trip, I knew I wanted to go here. I’d seen a few photos and couldn’t believe how close it was to Cannon Beach. I’ve been up that way before but had no idea about the ship wreck until recently.

The day was foggy and rainy, so I opted for some black and white long exposures.

 

The Bat Signal

Eternal
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 29mm, iso 100, f/5.6, 25 sec // buy print)

I wouldn’t call this my favorite ever lightning strike…but it’s definitely one of the most interesting I’ve photographed. When I saw it initially on the back of the camera last year, I said…that looks like the Bat Signal or something. So I’m sticking with the name.

It’s kinda hard to tell where this thing starts and ends. It looks like a complete circle almost. I think it starts in the upper left, then disappears for a tiny moment in the cloud at the top, then circles all the way around back into the cloud in the upper left again.

Needless to say, it’s rare for me to see something like this. Either they are kind of “spider lightning” where they streak across the sky or they strike the ground somewhere. But this is why I love doing photographing lightning…you never know what you are going to get when it comes to nature.