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Titanic

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 1/15th // buy print)

Movie Title Wednesdays are now few and far between these days, but I stumbled upon this image last night and realized I never posted it and felt like it was about time. I dubbed it Titanic because my wife has looked at this scene twice now and that’s the first movie that pops into her head.

And yeah, I love the movie. Can’t help it! Man card turned in!

But the way this old pier and that lamp post are covered in calcium deposits…it truly does look like the pictures we’ve seen of the Titanic. This image was taken at Bombay Beach along the Salton Sea in California back in January of this year. I made the trip with some friends from Phoenix and we met up with my buddies Heath O’Fee from Canada and Chris DeAngelis/Doug Wise from California. We had a spectacular time and on our first and only visit to Bombay Beach…couldn’t have asked for a better sunset.

This image actually fits even more for Movie Title Wednesday because it’s kind of a prequel. A week after our visit, I posted a photo from this same spot taken at 6:00pm. You can click right here to view that one.

The photograph above was taken at 5:52pm, just eight minutes earlier. Kind of amazing how much the sky changed in that short span of time. This image was always my favorite of the two because of the way the last rays of sunlight hit the lamp post and a few areas of the pier.

Definitely loved going back to that day and finding a few more images to post. We all had such an awesome time, that will of course be one of my favorite photography trips ever…and mostly because of the guys I was with.

A monsoon sunset over Phoenix

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 26mm, iso 200, f/5.6, 1/100th // buy print)

When you are a storm chasing photographer, you have to make do with whatever foreground you are given..  I kind of wish I had been able to see this amazing sunset out in the middle of the desert somewhere, peppered with saguaro and rocky cliffs…but despite that, I was mesmerized with this view last night.

I’m obviously a weather nut. I love it. I love towering cumulus clouds. But seeing the way they look at sunset, with red and orange tones, is absolutely magnificent. The textures and depth in the clouds is always fantastic. And then you get the falling rain lit up and glowing. Blue skies as a contrast.

A wonderful scene. And as I keep saying, this might have been the last monsoon sunset of the year. Still hoping for one more great day.

 

A couple of bolts over Tucson

(please click to view larger // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 26mm, f/14, iso 100, 4 sec // buy print)

The evening of 8th of August was an extraordinary one up on A-Mountain on the western edge of Tucson. This was the same night with the sunset-rainbow-lightning combination and I actually have 2-3 more shots I will share at some point down the road.

This was when the color was just about gone, so I opted for B&W, which is one of my favorite ways to process lightning photos anyways. You gotta love Tucson with the city lights, but also majestic mountains right on the north and east sides of town. Makes for such an awesome skyline.

The monsoon is on a break now and I’m hoping and praying that we still have a few days left before the winds shift and I don’t get to shoot lightning for another 9 months!

The open heavens

The heavens opened - monsoon sunset arizona

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 35mm, iso 200, f/5.0, 1/100th // buy print)

I love taking pictures of lightning…it’s one of my favorite things when it comes to weather photography. But I also just love the raw power of a thunderstorm. And the beauty they contain.

This rain shaft…was a powerful thing. As I was driving west, I watched the base of the cloud get dark, textured and nasty. Next thing you know a wall of rain is falling to the ground. Most of the time this is enough to be a gorgeous example of nature…but on a lucky occasion you get to witness something like this with fantastic sunset colors mixing into everything.

I’ve seen sights like this before and it’s always incredible how the light and color from the sun bounces around these clouds and rain.

I couldn’t take enough pictures of it.

The season is winding down here…in fact, today may be the last good day left. There might be some spotty, random days before the monsoon is truly gone, but we’re close to the end here.

 

Thor

Thor - LIghtning on Interstate 8

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, f/6.3, iso 800, 20 sec // buy print)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Movie Title Wednesday and I’ve missed it. So today we’re back with a flash and a bang and a crackle…a lightning strike worthy of the gods.

I’m a huge comic book fan and everything Marvel has done with their superhero movies has been amazing. Creating these separate movies like Iron Man, Captain America…the Hulk…Thor…and then throwing them together into The Avengers was perfectly executed and unlike anything we’ve seen before. The Hulk movies may not have been awesome, but they made up for it with the Hulk stealing the show in The Avengers.

So I dub this lightning photo “Thor“…because it could actually serve as a scene of the god of war coming down to earth. At least I think so. This is one of my favorite strikes to-date. I took a chance here with ISO 800, but I really wanted to illuminate the clouds on an awesome strike and I got lucky enough to not have a blown-out scene. I love the way it starts up high, you can see it in and out of the clouds and then it crashes down to earth with multiple bolts.

And this was 17mm too, uncropped…pretty dang close!

A fantastic storm in the vicinity of Gila Bend last night. I had given up after some other storms died without me even taking the camera out of my bag…but then I looked west, high-tailed it that way and got a couple of awesome strikes on camera.

Thunderstruck on Interstate 8

(please click to view on black and so it fits your screen // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/5.6, iso 125, 30 second // buy print)

Last night started off with a beautiful little photoshoot I did with a sweet 90-year old woman and her recently married granddaughter. I arrived at the lady’s house down in Casa Grande about 15 minutes before a large dust storm rolled through town. We braved the dirt, got a few fun images and then headed back inside. I knew once the shoot was over, I would likely head west along Interstate 8 because earlier models had shown storms would propagate that direction into the evening. Sure enough, a massive wall of lightning and rain was moving slow to the west and I figured I could catch up.

South of Gila Bend I ran into a group of stormchasers from Oklahoma and the United Kingdom, a few of which I had already been friends with on Facebook! Was so awesome to run into them and hear how excited they were for every lightning strike, the huge dust storm that hit us on Sentinel Road and just the fun of being out there. The UK folks don’t get lightning like that out there, so this is a stormchasing holiday for them and I wish them the best of luck!

This capture was taken just minutes before all the storms died out for the night. It felt super close, like within 1-2 miles at least. This photograph is cropped to the left side of the image I captured because I wanted it centered, but you can get an idea how close it was considering it’s a 17mm focal length on a full frame.

One of the more exciting, up-close lightning strikes for me this year!

A micro-dust-burst-haboob something or other

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/9.0, iso 100, blend // buy print)

I was shooting a timelapse of the dust storm in the opposite direction when I turned to look behind me and saw this. A  towering monsoon thunderstorm, a strong downdraft (potential microburst) and an approaching dust storm/haboob all creating one crazy scene.

The dynamic range was intense though as you might be able to tell. The sun was hidden by clouds except at the top of that thunderstorm where it was so bright that if exposed correctly, made the rest of the image almost black. I rarely go into post-processing talk these days, but this guy was kind of tough. As I’ve gotten away from doing HDR, I am doing more blending using luminosity masking (LM). I use LM on almost all my processing these days (other than B&W), I find it a lot of fun with more natural results. But blending something like this was tough for me and I’m still learning how to do it correctly.

Whatever the processing method…it was still an amazing sight. Usually storms build up along the outflow of a dust storm, not way out in front like this one. So it’s rare to get a scene like this with an incoming dust wall and a large downdraft out ahead.

A few more shots of the July 21st haboob in Phoenix

Here are just a few more images I captured yesterday during a fairly awesome haboob that rolled through town. And yes, even the people that hate the use of the word “haboob” might admit that Saturday’s storm certainly had some of the same characteristics as last year’s giant one on July 5th.

In case you missed it, here is a timelapse from yesterday’s dust storm and below are a couple more pictures. These were captured south of town as the storm rolled in. I had been timelapsing the entire thing when it was south of Casa Grande, and stopped when it hit me at I-10 and the 587. This first shot below was from that intersection.

This second shot was on the shoulder of I-10 just a tad north of Queen Creek, which is the overpass in the distance. These vehicles were going at a very slow pace and it was packed.

Police closed the freeway further south of this, which was evident once the wall of dust hit because the road suddenly became like something out of the Book of Eli. There wasn’t a soul anywhere close except for me.

A lightning strike over Tucson

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 39mm, f/10, iso 200, 20 sec // buy print)

My frenzy to catch up on what I missed last week has left me sleeping basically 7 hours the past two nights. I arrived home around 1am this morning from a long drive to hopefully catch up with a lightning barrage in far southern Arizona, but it proved to be a #fail.

But earlier in the evening was fun. I arrived in Tucson as the sun went down and a severe storm developed just to the south. I was struggling to find a place to shoot in the city because I don’t know it well at all and all the little hilltops have buildings and it makes it tough. Luckily I spied this short “mountain” that was very close (A-Mountain), and I drove up to the top and had this amazing view of southern Tucson.

Hopefully I get to shoot here again, it was such a great location. Downside is the park ranger came by to announce the gates were closing right around 8:30! A bit too early, but luckily I grabbed this one before I had to bail. I also met another photographer up there who has been shooting lightning around Tucson since at least 1991.

The image above, when zoomed in on the full resolution version, shows the impact point of the lightning on a building. Nothing I love more in a lightning photo than to see where the bolt lands.

 

The hand of God

The Hand of God - Oklahoma Panhandle Thunderstorm

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 1/400th // buy print)

When we saw this thing explode along the dry line in the Oklahoma panhandle…it was a sight to behold. It’s weird how stormchasing works. You setup in some location, the skies are clear and you wait. Your forecasting buddies have told you that a dry line will be moving eastward, hitting moisture and instability, and somewhere west of Woodward, OK…storms should start firing off in the next hour.

And then boom, clouds go nuts.

I am constantly amazed at how hard it is to predict weather even with all our technology, but at the same time, I marvel at how much we do know.

This storm ended up being the cell that produced that massive anvil in a photo I posted last week. The scene above was about 15-20 minutes before that.

The way the anvil starts spreading at the top right of the cloud reminding me of a giant hand reaching out. And with an angelic light behind it from the sun…who else could it be but God?