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A winter storm

Winter Storm
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/8, 1/1000th // buy print)

While watching this storm roll across eastern Arizona, we dubbed it a “snoboob” because it had all the appearances of a dust storm but instead it was pure white. Even the time-lapse of this makes it look like a haboob. Whatever it was…shelf cloud, gust front…it was gorgeous to watch, especially as it eventually overtook us and enveloped our area in fog and hail.

Was so amazing to be there to witness this…on a road trip, stopping to take photos of some other things, only to watch this storm sorta come out of nowhere. That’s the beauty of God and nature…when you just “get out there”, you never know what you’re going to see.

Positive

Positive CG
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm (cropped), iso 400, f/5.6, 6.0 sec)

One of my favorite kinds of lightning bolts are the ones that exit out the top of a cloud and have a long ways to go before they hit the ground. I feel like I must have known this before, but either way, thanks to Jeff Beamish down in Tucson, I now know these kinds of strikes are “positive cloud-to-ground” bolts (more info here).

I’ve caught one or two during my storm chasing adventures, but I’ve really been craving one from a distance. It was goal this year. That way you not only get the whole strike, but the cloud structure and maybe some sky…in this case…a few stars as an added bonus. If you aren’t sure what I mean by all of this…you can see in the photo above at the top of the cloud, there is a real BRIGHT part where the bolt exits the cloud. If you can picture things in a 3D environment, the bolt is likely coming towards us a bit before heading downwards.

Below is another example of one I’ve caught in the past (2012). It’s not so powerful as the one above, but you can see it coming out of the top of the cloud, making its way to the left and then down to the ground. Gives you more of an idea of what the bolt in the above photo might have been doing.

Stoked to nab this before the season ends.

From top to bottom

Sunset on the Beeline

Sunset on the Beeline
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/10, 1 second // buy print)

I’m a storm chaser through and through…that’s just what I do. I have a hard time going anywhere and just waiting for something good to happen. I’ve wanted to do a few trips this year, one mainly to a spot on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, just to camp for a few days and get some epic shots.

But it’s not in me to do that. I love the chase. The unknown. What will I end up with tonight?

This photo is a prime example of that. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but what it shows you is that beauty can be found anywhere, even though you don’t expect it.

This was from July 6th of this year. I saw a big line of storms moving in off the White Mountains and thought I might get in front of them right when it got dark and could destroy some lightning shots over the hills. But as it neared me, the storms started dying, the lightning wasn’t coming my way.

As I sat there bumming, this glow slowly appeared in the sky…and I wasn’t expecting it. The clouds were so thick everywhere, I had no idea the sun could possibly make it all this way.

But then the clouds  ignited and I couldn’t believe the color. It was intense.

Sunsets are weird in a way. It’s like you know a storm is great because there is wind and thunder and rain, and you can “feel” it. A sunset though…it’s like something so amazing and powerful, but it’s utterly silent. You look up and see an explosion of color, but there are no trumpets playing, no orchestra…just quiet.

Makes it all the better.

 

Squiggly

Closer than it appears
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 400, f/8.0, 1/160th // buy print)

This was the best storm I saw all of 2013 in Arizona. At the very least it was in the top 2. The low shelf cloud that appeared out of the rain was an amazing surprise, but there was also blowing dust and crazy lightning strikes. You can see the other shots from this cell right here.

I captured this one using a Nero Lightning Trigger…although I wouldn’t recommend one. I was actually surprised I got this because I had a lot of bad luck with it, loose cables and eventually it just stopped working. I recently picked up a Lightning Trigger IV and am looking forward to that this spring and summer.

The fun part of this strike is that it’s VERY close. A lot closer than it looks. 17mm lens on a full frame sensor…and it almost takes up the entire field of view. Not only that, but in the picture below, you can see the orange spot where the lightning strike hits the tree line…and that tree line was about 1/4 mile away from me if that.

A fairly unusual looking bolt as well…almost looks like a squiggly line, not the jagged strikes you usually see.

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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.

 

Cold Drinks

Cold Drinks
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/5.6, 1/320th // buy print)

My buddy Matt Granz posted a picture from this same spot a few days ago on Facebook, which is because we were actually together that day chasing the monsoon! He made me realize I never posted the image I took, so I thought I’d do that today. This was taken just north of Tucson off the freeway along Red Rock Road. I am not even sure it’s still standing…I feel like the last few times I drove past this spot the windmill looked a lot worse or I didn’t even see it.

We were here just before sunset, which you can see from the gorgeous light reflecting off the windmill and little silo/tanks on the left. A beautiful monsoon evening, these storms moved in and dropped lightning a little bit after this was taken.

Awesome hanging with Matt on this night, he’s such an amazing guy, check out his work when you get a chance!

A salty sunset from Death Valley

A salty sunset
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, 1.6 sec (blend) // buy print)

I’d been dying to go to Death Valley for awhile now. And when I finally got the chance, it was more amazing than I thought it would be. I only wish I had more time to explore. On our trip I kept comparing this place to an amusement park. You’d drive along and there were salt flats. Further the salt flats were taller and jagged, almost like frozen waves. And then there were dunes. And then rocks that slide. And a giant volcanic crater. And Star Wars had parts filmed there.

I mean…it was endless. And we only had two days. So we did what we could.

And by we, I mean my buddy Rick Young and Chris Frailey. Super thankful to have these guys along, we had an awesome time!

The above photo was taken somewhat near Badwater Basin. We have a photographer named Rick to thank for leading us to this spot. We met him the night before at Race Track Playa and he was such an amazing guy…he gave us advice on the cold, where to shoot and then he pointed us in the right direction for the salt flats. We’d have frozen our buns off that first night if he hadn’t warned us ahead of time. And we STILL were friggin’ cold!

We got lucky to have a beautiful sunset for the salt flats, despite my buddy Chris Frailey’s worry that it would be a bust like the night before. These flats were pretty crazy…you honestly feel like you are walking on a frozen landscape, but it’s just crispy salty earth. The patterns they form are incredible and amazing.

I shot a bunch of timelapse sequences during this trip, so I’ll have a short movie out hopefully soon.

An Arizona hail core

Severe storm near Douglas
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 1/13th // buy print)

I remember this storm like it was yesterday. I was even live streaming it and couldn’t have been more excited for the people watching to see a storm like this in Arizona. You can even see a timelapse of it right here.

This area had storms all over…to the left, to the right…but something about this one looked different. I was watching an area of intense rain when suddenly you could see the blue a lot clearer and the clouds started making some crazy looking shapes, especially on the right side of the image above. It almost looked like a wall cloud and there was some insane upward motion. Insane for this state that is.

I got so lucky last year to be on two storms like this that looked so unusual for Arizona. Hoping for more of the same in 2014!

Over Booker, Texas

Over Booker
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, iso 800, f/8.0, 1/6 // buy print)

The Booker Supercell was undoubtedly ranked either 1 or 2 in my experiences as a storm chaser. My only wish is that we had gotten there a few moments earlier, but I’m pretty sure we saw the storm at it’s best right before it started dying out. Here’s a look at the storm as it was losing strength, finally passing over the town of Booker, Texas. Earlier in the chase we had been north of Booker, watching the storm move to the southeast…and then we raced south into town and blasted east to stay ahead.

This was one of the final moments of the storm before the sun was completely down and dark overtook us.

Through the shelf

Through the Shelf
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 21mm, iso 400, f/8, 1/160th // buy print)

Last Friday night I had a gallery show at Obliq Art in downtown Phoenix, and it sorta got my juices flowing again for some storm chasing. So I figured I’d start the new year off with another image from last summer.

This was an image from that epic storm in the Marana area north of Tucson. I posted one a few days after the storm that had a sorta “supercell” look to it…and it was one of my favorites from 2013.

But I love this one too, for two reasons. One…the lightning explodes from the main bulk of the storm and then pierces the shelf cloud below it. I love the two exit points. And finally…the semi-truck being there to give some scale to an otherwise large, boring farm field. Plus you also have some great blowing dust showing the powerful winds that were going on (which would eventually knock over my camera).

Ah…memories. Already getting excited for my annual plains trip at the end of May!