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A shelf cloud photo/timelapse over Fountain Hills

Shelf Cloud over Fountain Hills
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 200, 1/200th // buy print)

When I chase in the central plains every spring, I do so with the intent of hopefully capturing a tornado someday, but mainly to get beautiful cloud structures that we don’t see much of out here in Arizona.

And then yesterday happened. I had been out shooting snow on the Superstition Mountains in the early afternoon when my buddy Jeff started texting me about the lightning and hail raining down all over Scottsdale. In parts of that city it hailed so badly it was a crazy whiteout on freeways and even the Diamondbacks couldn’t practice this morning as their field is a sheet of ice.

I started to head back towards the cell intending to cut it off at Gilbert and the Beeline. I had a smaller storm to drive though first, but when I emerged on the other side I saw some serious dark clouds with great looking cloud bases and structures. I rush to this spot that I’ve been too before knowing it would be perfect and started timelapsing.

And while the cloud were gorgeous before, suddenly this crisp looking shelf cloud emerged and made my day. It was absolutely beautiful. My only wish is that I had been somewhere a bit nicer, but there was no time to drive anywhere else. But I didn’t care really. I was just so happy to stumble upon this thing. It even had that bluish-green tiny from all the hail falling. Amazing.

A timelapse of this storm is below…watch it full-screen so that you can have a dark background because of how dark the scene itself is.

(btw, the video quality via Vimeo seems suspect today, not sure what’s up. Usually a bit more crisp than it is.)

Thunderstorm on Luepp Road

Thunderstorm on Luepp
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/9, 1/200sec // buy print)

One of the more beautiful areas of Arizona is this little stretch of highway on Luepp Road northeast of Flagstaff. You take it to get to Grand Falls, which is where I was headed this day.

What I love about this terrain are the smooth mountains that were former volcanoes in another life. You don’t really get to see them too well in this photo, but the left horizon is the start of one of these mountains. But the grasslands are still amazing and the scenery is beautiful. In various places roads head off into the distance as this area is also used as farm land.

Of course all of it is made better by a gorgeous little downpour from a monsoon storm. One of my favorite images from last summer.

Overflow at Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake Overflow
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/18, manual exp blend // buy print)

Anytime is rains in Phoenix must seem hilarious to the rest of the world. The local news show pictures of running water down gutters, rain drops in puddles and of course you have guys like me blabbing on Twitter about his rain gauge. The amount of rain we deal with is so tiny compared to a lot of other places in the country that everyone else much think we’re just silly.

But you gotta remember…this is the desert, we only average just over eight inches of rain per year in Phoenix. And this past Friday-Sunday my house has seen 1.39 inches in just a few days! That’s a lot for us.

And when is does that out here, things flood, washes run and cool stuff happens. Like in the photo above…the Tempe Town Lake Dam. If you aren’t local, you may not be able to see it right off the bat, but the dam is actually made of giant inflatable rubber tubes.  Each section is 240 feet long and over an inch in thickness. They are durable against UV rays, ripping, etc. and can be deflated/re-inflated in 15 minutes.

This dam is located on the Salt River right in the heart of Tempe, Arizona and creates a little recreational lake for us. But when we get tons of rain, sometimes water is released from the major dams further upstream in the mountains, or runoff from city drainage can cause the lake to start filling up.

This is a sight you don’t see too often. I actually am not sure if the dam itself was lowered at all or is this is just how much water is coming from upstream. Either way, it was a beautiful sight to see against the stormy skies we had last night.

Touchdown in Tucson

Touchdown in Tucson
(please click to view on black and so it fits your screen // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 39mm (cropped), iso 200, f/10, 20sec // buy print)

Ahh…south Tucson. This was the first time I’d ever ventured up to A-Mountain and I barely had time to setup before the lightning rained down. I loved being up so high, but was also pretty close to this strike. It was a bit nerve wracking…this was only 39mm (albeit cropped to the left side of the frame), but I felt a weeee bit exposed up there.

The bright line of city lights next to the landing of the bolt is Interstate 10 as it turns and heads off towards New Mexico.

Nothing I enjoy more in a lightning strike than seeing where it lands.

Make sure to click on the photo to see it fit your screen if you happen to be on a smaller monitor.

Haboob crossing

Crossing the Road
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 100, 1/200th // buy print)

Yeah, I love road shots to death…not much I can do about that. So snagging one with a large haboob crossing just a little ways to the south was a fun catch.

This is Toltec Road near Eloy…I loved the light here with the sun going down. Nice long shadow across the road. Also that low sun really brought out the texture in this old highway, not to mention highlighting the dust cloud itself.

Have a lot planned this coming summer and it’s going to be a busy one. Cannot wait.

Snowy December Morning

Snowy December Morning

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 29mm, iso 100, f/8, 1/50th // buy print)

Haven’t had a ton of time in December to just go for drives on stormy days, so it was awesome to end the year with a nice road trip with the kiddies. I have to say, our little almost-11-month-old Eli joined Lyla and myself for the first time ever and he rocked. Never cried, just had an awesome time and I couldn’t be happier for what that hopefully means in the coming years!

This is a shot of the Superstition Mountains with some snow you can see in the higher elevations. One of my favorite spots in Arizona. A gorgeous, cloudy morning…was well worth getting up at 5:45 and dragging the kids with me.

Gorge | Seal Rock, Oregon Coast

Gorge - Seal Rock Oregon Coast

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, f/10, iso 50, 258 seconds, b+w 10 stop nd // buy print)

One of the hardest things for me when I get a chance to visit Oregon is that usually I don’t have a lot of time to take pictures. I end up running to the coast with only an hour or two maybe to find cool spots and setup shots around sunset. The last few times there I’ve felt like I walked away with only a single good image because of just not knowing the terrain very well and having zero time to explore.

This last trip was kind of the same way. I had picked out Seal Rock from Google Maps because it had easy parking access and was around the area I wanted to be in for sunset. When I got there I hiked down the trail to the beach, but before I got there, I noticed another path veering off towards some cliffs and I decided to skip the beach and check it out.

And I’m glad I did. The rock on the left is what I believe is the actual “Seal Rock”, because the “beach” side of it is pretty crazy. But on this side, it helps create a gorge with this other giant rock/cliff on the right.

The tide was way out, so I hiked down pretty low to take this. The water actually came right up under the tripod a few times during this 4.3 minute exposure.

A cool little spot, totally dug all the creepy rocks.

 

A foggy day at Multnomah Falls

Foggy Multnomah Falls

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/10, 131 seconds // buy print)

It’s kind of amazing that you can get to this place in less than 30 minutes from the Portland airport. I’ve never been here, or down “The Gorge” and I have to say, it was utterly amazing. Waterfalls everywhere and such beauty. On my way back to Portland, I looked across the Columbia River to the north shore and saw sheer cliffs with waterfalls crashing down into the river…and it was like something out of Lord of the Rings or some fantasy movie.

Even these falls…Multnomah Falls…with the bridge and the trees, seems like it’s from some dream.

It was a foggy, rainy day. Which probably isn’t out of the norm for this area or Oregon in general. But I think it’s moreso like this in the winter months. Everything was wet. Everywhere. The sky was murky and foggy…the trees sometimes masked in clouds. When I got home and looked at these shots, I knew I wanted to do one in monochrome. It just felt right.

This was a 131 second exposure using a 10-stop filter. I started this in Silver Efex 2 and then took it into Photoshop for some luminosity masking to add more detail. Love how it turned out.

Make sure to click on it for the best effect.

A winter storm over Phoenix

(Please click on the photo to see it better // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8.0, iso800, 1/1000 sec // buy print)

From yesterday evening. Nothing but love for winter storms.

I haven’t had much time to myself lately…I captured this on the way home from an engagement shoot that got rained out. I appear to only take photos at this parking garage lately, but that’s mainly because it’s a block from my house and easy to access 🙂

Hoping to get out and photograph some snowy desert mountains later this month!

 

Crossing Interstate 8

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, f/6.3, stack of nine images shot at 25 seconds each // buy print)

This is my second go at stacking lightning images (first is here)…I tend to avoid this but sometimes when a single shot of lightning is kind of boring and doesn’t make the cut, it’s interesting to see what happens if you put a bunch of those together into one final photograph.

I shot this back on September 4th while this storm crossed over Interstate 8 from right to left across the frame. The nine images were captured from 9:15pm to 9:21pm.

I’m neck deep in weddings and family photography right now, but yeah, I’m kind of excited already for next summer!