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Lindsey & Zach’s engagement session at the Salt River

Lindsey and Zach explored the Salt River area with me a few weeks ago. I tend to go there a lot, it’s so different all the time and people love it out there!

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Drift

An incredibly cooll scene out at the Four Peaks on July 1st, 2016. Strong winds push a dumping hail core way out ahead of the updraft and on top of the Four Peaks Mountain Range.

One of the coolest things I’ve seen during the monsoon in Arizona. The tower on the left was an incredible updraft that I got to see explode upwards, and then the hail started falling…but strong winds took the downdraft and pushed it southeastward over the Four Peaks. Not sure I’ve seen anything like that…Tim Marshall called it a “hail drift”, which sounds about right 🙂 I got the entire genesis of it on time-lapse too, so that will mostly undoubtedly make the final edit of Monsoon III, whenever that comes out!

Killer chase yesterday, ending on Interstate 8 with a fantastic lightning show. Today I switch gears to shoot an intimate wedding in the Red Rocks of Sedona!

Robby & Susy’s Engagement Session at Salt River

Robby and Susy are from Miami and they brought the sexy on this engagement session. Wow did we have a great time hanging out, the weather wasn’t TOO hot for late May and then a few days later the wedding took place in Sedona! Stay tuned for that blog post, I really loved these two people, so warm, friendly and happy as heck. Awesome to see.

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Mike & Lia’s Engagement Session in Sedona

Mike and Lia, Sedona, guzzling champagne from the bottle and an epic sunset. Perfection.

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Forked

A lightning bolt lands in the Four Peaks Wilderness area northeast of Phoenix, seeming to fork into two directions at the last minute as it strikes the side of a mountain.

A cakewalk chase yesterday…spent over 90 minutes at this spot just off the Beeline Highway where it intersects with Bush Highway. A storm to my north built up and died, then storms to our east went up and the lightning display after sunset was gorgeous. Here’s one of my favorites…always love being able to see where a strike hits the ground, it adds so much more dimension to a photo.

Today begins a hectic few weeks of July for me, as two film companies will be out attempting to capture dust storms. One crew from Japan, one from England. I’m a consulting on both projects, although I’ll also be filmed as part of the one from Japan. Stoked to be a part of them, but it’s gonna be crazy. Doing location scouting today and tomorrow. Today may actually give us a dust storm if things pan out!

Star Wars

A few days ago I decided to get some buddies together to go shoot the Geminid Meteors for the peak of the shower Sunday into Monday. We met up in Organ Pipe in far southern Arizona and enjoyed some dark skies and one of the most active meteor showers I've ever seen! Got home and took this morning to put this image together...it's a stack/blend of about 25 meteors put into one photo. This is part of a time-lapse sequence as well, shot at f/2.8, 20 seconds and ISO 5000.

I heard about the Geminid Meteors being at their peak Sunday into Monday, so I called around to a few buddies this weekend in an effort to drag them out with me somewhere remote so I’d have a few meat shields in case of attack from crazy peeps. We decided to do Organ Pipe south of Ajo since Greg McCown lives in Tucson and it was sorta central for us. Keith Kessler and Davo Laninga, who took my Monsoon workshop a few years ago, also joined me! So great to hang with these dudes. Organ Pipe is stunning. Saguaro everywhere. We got there and meteors were all over the place in most directions. It was nuts. But at first the cameras just weren’t picking them them, so I got discouraged. Still, I cranked the ISO to 5000 and we sat in the truck with the heat blasting for a couple of hours…and when stopped my little time-lapse, I found all these crazy meteors scattered throughout the photos.

Here’s a stacked photo of a bunch of images amounting to roughly 25 meteors. This isn’t anything new, I’ve seen lots of stacked meteor shots and I wanted to give it a shot. I love the way it turned out, but hope to get more practice down the road. I just learned some new techniques for noise and editing of Milky Way shots, hoping to up my game down the road…but for now, hope you enjoy!

Salome

I love this shot mainly because it was the only lightning bolt that I saw come out of this little cell and it took about 15 minutes for it to happen. Patience is not one of my best qualities, but nothing else was happening around me and so I decided to just aim at the spot the rain was falling and hope to get lucky. And boom, this gorgeous strike right after sunset...west of Tonopah along Salome Highway.  That's a good strategy out here in Arizona...lightning can do anything for the most part, but if you aren't sure where it's going to happen, aim at the rain shaft and you've upped your chances at capturing something.
I love this shot mainly because it was the only lightning bolt that I saw come out of this little cell and it took about 15 minutes for it to happen. Patience is not one of my best qualities, but nothing else was happening around me and so I decided to just aim at the spot the rain was falling and hope to get lucky. And boom, this gorgeous strike right after sunset…west of Tonopah along Salome Highway.

That’s a good strategy out here in Arizona…lightning can do anything for the most part, but if you aren’t sure where it’s going to happen, aim at the rain shaft and you’ve upped your chances at capturing something

For Mary

This was a magical evening and I discovered later that perhaps there was a special reason for it. When I returned home after these storms died out...I discovered that a kind lady named Mary Kathleen Johnson quietly passed away around 5pm that day. This photo was taken two hours later. She was a lover of weather, of storms and of living beneath the gorgeous views of the Catalina Mountains. She was a huge fan of storm chasers and would watch myself and countless others as we live stream our chases. She was such a blessing to everyone. She would help us when we weren't sure of the road network near her house. But mainly she had sent me countless messages of support, not about only my work, but about me personally and my family. I'd like to think that as she left this place, her gift to me at least was this storm and this lightning strike. And so I dedicate this image to you Mary...man you rest in peace.

Last night was a magical evening and I discovered later that perhaps there was a special reason for it. When I returned home after these storms died out…I discovered that a kind lady named Mary Kathleen Johnson had quietly passed away around 5pm that same day . This photo was taken two hours later. She was a lover of weather, of storms and of living beneath the gorgeous views of the Catalina Mountains. She was a huge fan of storm chasers and would watch myself and countless others as we live-streamed our chases. She was such a blessing to everyone. She would even help us when we weren’t sure of the road network near her house.

But mainly she had sent me countless messages of support, not about only my work, but about me personally as a father and my family. Here’s one of her final messages to me, just a month ago:

“Hey Mike, Just wanted to say, 1st video that I had seen that you posted over on Vimeo back in 2011 or 12, took me by surprise & took my breath away. Had to watch it a couple of times,saved it then sent it off to Jeff Beamish.
My best captures could never compare to (if you ever made one) to your worst.

Can’t express enough to you the appreciation, not just me, but so many others of the stunning gifts you provide re nature via your captures.
Respect yourself, Jina and what you have been gifted with.

Thanks again kid, you’ve got it stay on course, pleased as heck for you.”

I can’t believe she’s gone just like that. I’d like to think that as she left this place, her gift to me at least was a beautiful storm and this lightning strike.

And so I dedicate this image to you Mary…may you rest in peace…with the occasional thunderstorm.

Near Wickenburg

Near Wickenburg
(please click image to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 19mm, iso 200, f/11, 10 sec // buy print)

This was a storm I’ll always remember. I’m driving west along Highway 74 and notice a little blip on my radar just south of me, parallel to my direction. Suddenly a flash explodes in that direction, I slam on the brakes, pull over and whip out my cameras.

And then nail a few bolts right there in front of me, just after sunset. There were taken with a 17mm lens, giving you an idea how close it was.

Sunrise at Sunset

Sunrise from Sunset
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, f/8, 1/500th, iso 100, graduated filter // buy print)

On the first day of our road trip up north a few weeks ago, we stopped at Sunset Point to wander out in the golden fields that are all over up there on the plateau. It was dark and serene, other than the passing cars on Interstate 17. We found some spots in the dark, like with this cactus…almost out of place with all the tall grass around it.

Sunrise was perfect…the light just peeking over the horizon lit up all the grass and the tippy points of the cactus…it was stunning.

A great omen for our trip…more to come, including a time-lapse film, a documentary by Jay Worsley and more images from yours truly!