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The nose of Antelope Canyon

The Nose
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 100, f/8, 8 sec // buy print)

One thing we were thankful for during our tour of Upper Antelope Canyon was our guide.  He rocked at knowing good spots and also for tossing sand in strategic locations.

We had already shot the sand falling on the right side during our first pass through the Canyon, so on our way back he said he could make it fall on both sides. I quickly moved to this spot and was thankful for the 14mm lens I had with me. It was kind of a tiny area, so being able to get that wide was a bonus.

The rock formation in the middle kind of “jutted” out towards me and reminded me of a big nose on an old man’s face.

Definitely loved being able to finally visit this place, but this scene doesn’t tell the story of about 6 other photographers lined up to my right all shooting the same thing. And people waiting behind them to pass through.

If you are a photographer, I highly recommend paying for the two-hour tour because you get more time and also a bit of preferential treatment.

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.

Reflections of the Monsoon

Monsoon Sunset Reflected
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/8, 1/15th // buy print)

If you follow my work, you may remember this epic looking, isolated thunderstorm from last year and also the timelapse that went with it. The storm was seen all over by tons of people…cell phone shots of the “UFO” cloud were sent in to all the news stations.

This is kind of the aftermath when it was fading away to nothing…but right as the sun was going down, when that gorgeous anvil cloud captured perfectly the colors of the sunset. We had a bit of a rain storm the day before so there was this massive puddle on the side of the road. Had to use it of course. You don’t get many chances for reflection shots like this in the middle of the desert.

It’s still one of those storms I wont soon forget and I’m dying to photograph some real weather again. The good news is that the monsoon season start date is just over a month away. Hurry on up already!

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.

Spotlight | YoloZona

Spotlight
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 100, 8 seconds // buy print)

I’m a 38-year native of Arizona but there are a bunch of places I’ve never seen. Antelope Canyon was one of those…at least until a week ago today. With some really good friends in town to help me shoot a wedding, we decided to venture north and explore some super photogenic spots.

We paid $80 for a professional photographers tour package, which turned out to be the right decision. The first time you enter in with a guide and another tour group behind you…the pressure is a bit overwhelming. You stop, he tells you to photograph these rays of light coming in, you do your best to get it done in about 5-10 minutes, all the while you have a 1-hour tour group behind you waiting for you to finish. We did get that benefit though for paying the extra money. People would have to wait behind us until we were done getting what we needed.  We felt a little privileged because of it and it definitely helped big time.

The chaos in there is pretty crazy. But even with all the people, there would be times when you might be completely by yourself after the other tours and come and gone. And those moments were awesome.

The hardest part though I think is to pick your compositions without ever having been down there before and having to do it in a quick amount of time. The pressure to rock it was crazy. I think I walked away with maybe three images I really love, but we’ll see once I get a bit more into them.

This image was one of the early beams of light we saw. It’s really incredible actually. I’m not sure cameras can do this kind of thing justice. These focused rays of light in such a quiet place.

Despite all the beauty, the weather nerd inside of me couldn’t help but think about what a deathtrap this place is when a flash flood comes through, and how that’s the way this amazing place was formed to begin with. Over 10 years ago 13 people died in here because it rained 20 miles away and it was clear skies overhead at Antelope. I kept looking around, imagining a torrent of water rushing through here. Spooky.

More images to come!

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.

Supernova

Event Horizon
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/4.5, 1/320 // buy print)

Here’s a shot from last summer. This was taken from an overpass towards a western setting sun and a sky alive with dust. A dust storm had already blown through earlier and you can see on the left horizon a bunch more getting ready to move towards the right in the frame.

The color of the sky made me pull over. The sun setting coupled with the brown/orange dust gave the scene an erie glow. Almost looked like a bomb had gone off in the distance.

 

Stormy sunset at Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach Sunset
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, blend // buy print)

I’d been to the Oregon coast about three times before our vacation to Cannon Beach and then four nights during our recent stay. In all that time this is the best sky I’ve had. It’s always been overcast and murky, which I love most other times, but I’ve been dying for color and stormy looking skies at sunset.

Even this one didn’t end up with the color you might hope for when the sun hit the horizon, but I dug it anyways because…well I love storms as you may know. The cloud on the left above the two little pillars of rock kept moving towards me and as the sun went down and I left the beach, I got hit with some pellet-size hail. It was cold and windy…even the surf blew up a few times into my lens and I had to clean it off. A beautiful, beautiful evening.

You may even be able to spot the first floating around the top of Haystack Rock.

I processed this image by manually blending with luminosity masks, which is a tough, tough system to understand and perfect. I’ve been using LM’s for awhile now, but mainly on single images. This was a four exposure blend to get the detail in Haystack, but also the clouds and sunset off in the distance. The blending is tough. But if you get it right, I think it looks amazing.

I love LM’s for this kind of thing because I feel it’s a way more natural result than HDR processing that I used way back in the day. Still learning and perfecting, but digging the results.

 

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.

 

Trifecta over Tucson

A trifecta
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 50, f/16, 2.0 sec // buy print)

This photo may look familiar if you follow me regularly…it was taken roughly four minutes after this other one I posted last summer.

The amazing thing is how the colors change in a matter of minutes. While I loved the other one, this one is my favorite of the two. I dig the purple tones and also love how the rainbow is much more defined and easier to see here. I am showing my work in an art show this Friday and Saturday and this just got printed on a gorgeous 20×30 canvas.

I still find myself so blessed that I was somehow in the right place on this night. I’ve never been able to capture lightning like this against an amazing sunset …but to get a rainbow tossed in was just a bonus.

The bottom of the barrel of storm images from last summer is starting to become visible…but there are a few more coming over the next couple months!