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The Brush

This was one of those storms I was on from the very beginning. I saw the anvil explode into the sky and slowly the storm evolved and as it neared me, the structure was amazing. I love this brush-like wall cloud hanging over the Texas prairie.

April 16th, 2015. What a great day. This was one of those storms I was on from the very beginning. I saw the anvil explode into the sky and slowly the storm evolved and as it neared me, the structure was amazing. Over the course of two hours I only moved about a mile. I love this brush-like wall cloud hanging over the Texas prairie.

You can see how I edited this image on a screencast I’ll be releasing in the coming week! Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get notified when that’s available…for subscribers only!

The Cottonwood Meso

Seeing something like this in Arizona is super special, because sculpted mesocyclones like this one are kinda rare. It was amazing to watch this storm spin off the mountains, split apart and suddenly see this gorgeous meso that looked like something you'd see out on the plains during the spring.

What a day this one turned out to be. Definitely one of the top scenes of the summer for me in Arizona. I had been chasing around the Camp Verde area earlier and saw a little rotating storm, then headed north of Cottonwood to watch this one roll off the mountains. It was a bigger cell earlier but as it came over the mountains, it split into two and the left side suddenly became this brief but gorgeously sculpted mesoclyclone. I was freaking out at the time and I have the entire genesis of the storm on time-lapse (which you can see in my Monsoon II film).

This was a shot with my third camera and a lightning trigger…you can make out the bolt there on the right side of the cell.

Hoping to get lucky and see more of this kind of thing next summer!

North of Pampa

A beautiful supercell matures north of Pampa, Texas on April 16th, 2015. This storm was tornado warned and I happened to be on it from birth to this stage and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my storm chasing career.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/8, iso 100, 1/25th // buy print)

One of my favorite days of chasing in recent memory…with this storm north of Pampa, Texas firing before noon, and here and hour later, maturing into a gorgeous supercell. It was quickly tornado warned and one of the most beautiful storms I’ve seen.

Later in the day I would end up seeing my first ever tornado and chase until late in the evening, eventually having to turn around and head back home to Phoenix.

Is it spring yet???

The Panhandle

The Panhandle
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, iso 400, f/5.6, 1/250th, handheld 9-image stitch // buy print)

Last week Tuesday I jumped in my truck and drove all the way to Colorado and the plains to chase storms for two days. This was the second day in the Texas panhandle. I watched this supercell start off as simple towering cumulus and two hours later it became this beast hovering over the farmlands northwest of Pampa.

Three hours prior, I had been near this spot, talking on my live stream about how this part of Texas was so beautiful, I was praying I could capture an amazing supercell just hanging over these farmlands. And then suddenly storms fired and I didn’t move but a few miles over the course of several hours. The storm intensified and became a supercell in short order, and then evolved in so many ways. This was one of my favorite views of the entire day. Wide open, descending prairie…and even a little windmill out there. Thursday turned out more incredible than I could have hoped for when I woke up that morning, I can’t wait to share more!

 

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!

Interstate

Interstate
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 24mm, f/11, iso 200, 20 sec, composite // buy print)

This was probably one of the more dangerous photos I’ve ever taken. It’s also my favorite lightning strike of the summer.

I was parked well off the shoulder of the offramp here on 339th Avenue, well to the left of this frame. I was shooting in this same direction, but even though there were amazing bolts all over, the composition was boring and just didn’t look right to me. So before I could change my mind, I grabbed my tripod and ran to the middle of the overpass, in the rain, and fired off about 5-8 exposures of 20 seconds.

Two things popped into my head while standing out there. The first, of course, was that lightning was striking within a mile or two of my location. Sooooooooo….why was I on the high point of an overpass? And second…this was a skinny overpass and I had basically two feet of shoulder space. If a diesel came from the south and another from the north, I don’t know what would have happened. I was watching of course and no one was coming from the south at all, so I felt okay…but it was nerve wracking. Even if I took off running…it would have been close.

I had to take the risk though. The lightning was incredible. And all over. I knew the busy traffic of I-10 would result in some great light trails. But what I didn’t expect was to get such an an amazing, super-close bolt.

You can see where it hits just off the freeway, maybe a mile up the road? Probably less? It’s hard to say. The way it flew into the frame from the right and then slammed into the ground was amazing. But the added element of the freeway and light trails gives the photo visible dimension. You can actually feel how close it was. It’s been tough to get shots like this…mostly bolts land somewhere on the horizon, never giving you a good idea of exactly how far away they took place.

Now this is a composite image. I always like to be up-front about that. It’s only a composite though to fill in the light trails on the left side of the frame and to remove some distracting ones that were on the offramp. I took roughly 5-8 shots and so I had a few other frames to choose from to get the whole interstate lit up. I’ve been lucky before on a few shots like this where I captured all of it in a single frame…but this was only a 20 second exposure and even though I-10 is busy, a 30 second exposure would have been better. Normally I might have left it alone, but once I caught this strike…it was so worth tweaking it just a bit to make it perfect.

Hope you enjoy this! Definitely a highlight of the season for me.

End of the Rainbow

End of the Raimbow
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35 f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 1/20th // buy print)

One of my favorite roads in Arizona is this one that leads almost right into the Superstition Mountains. I only visited it ONE time this summer and this is what I saw. A stunning, light-infused scene with two rainbows starting on the left side, and a faint connection to one of them on the right. The rain, the sunlight, the cliffs, the color in the sky…was all amazing.

This is a scene from my time-lapse film that will be released on Monday or Tuesday next week! I didn’t shoot it from the middle of the road of course, but just off to the side!

Over Whittman

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

The night of July 31st was one of the best nights I’ve ever had shooting lightning. Hours of non-stop action, sometimes sitting in one spot for over 30 minutes, capturing bolt after bolt.

But some of the best shots I got happened right as the evening got started and storms started firing. As I was flying west on Highway 74 towards Wickenburg, a little cell built up to my south. I stopped for a moment, watched it and suddenly lightning exploded out, super close to where I was. I knew right away that this was a wide-angle moment, and so I slapped on the 16-35. This is cropped a bit, but not much. The lightning was very close, only maybe 5 miles away and intense.

This was the second set of strikes I captured…I already posted this one and this one a few weeks ago and have a bunch more from this evening!

Trigo Mountains

Trigo Shelf
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 200, f/16, 1/15th, lightning trigger // buy print)

The models yesterday lined up for a huge severe event in western Arizona, so I headed out late morning to Quartzsite. Watched storms for a few hours until a huge MCS exploded out of Mexico near Mexicali, and rushed northeast-east into Arizona…which triggered some amazing storms and flooding.

As near as I can tell, this shelf cloud and lightning strike occurred over the Trigo Mountains southwest of Quartzsite, Arizona.

Mad props to Mike Leuthold and the UofA Atmo Department for some killing forecasting yesterday. I showed up in Quartzsite as storms were already going off. It was a good feeling!