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Over the Top

Over the Top
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 100, f/5.0, 1/5th, lightning trigger // buy print)

Another gorgeous lightning strike from my time in the plains this past April. Yes, Over the Top is because of the movie about arm-wrestling…if this was only tomorrow, I could make it a “Movie Title Wednesday” which harkens back to something I used to do on the blog that a few of you may remember! I saw this and thought “Across the Sky”…the song that I only know because of that film haha.

This was captured north of Scott City, Kansas, with a Lightning Trigger IV, which I recently purchase. Loving it. Heading out to the plains tomorrow for FIVE days of chasing…cannot wait. Going to be absolutely amazing!

Lightstorm

LIghtstorm
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/16, iso 100, 2.0 sec // buy print)

A few weeks ago I went on a last minute trip to the plains to chase for two days. The first day was marginal for eastern  Colorado and Kansas…it was the next day that I was stoked about. But as things usually work out…day one turned out to be the best. Not only did I get some good structure with some crazy shelf clouds and lightning, but I also captured this guy…probably one of my all-time favorite lightning strikes.

I’m kinda proud of this one. Sometimes you see lightning and you just stop, pull out the camera and hope you get something without thinking much about where you are. But for this one…I saw the sun setting and knew a line of storms were coming towards me. As I passed this field, I saw those trees out there and pulled off the shoulder. I backed up and backed up until they looked just like this. I set up the best composition I could think of and then prayed for lightning.

It was actually amazing. Even without the lightning, this scene was breathtaking. The sun was setting, and illuminating the falling rain…and the trees isolated by themselves made it feel like it some kind of picture or painting right there in real life.

After that…it was just a matter of hoping. I believe I was using my new Lightning Trigger IV for this and wow has that thing paid off already. I have two good ones from this spot, but this is definitely my favorite.

Out of the cloud

Out of the Cloud
(please click to view this image on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 160, f/8.0, 15 sec // buy print)

Last season I captured a brief timelapse of a thunderhead building up with lightning illuminating it from the inside. What made it awesome was the moonlight. The moon was almost full and thus the cloud was already visible with the naked eye even though it was well past dark. It made it extra awesome because you could already see the cloud building almost as if it were daytime, and then the lightning as also visibly illuminating the cloud as well.

Since that night I so badly wanted to capture some storms with the moon nearing fullness. And on October 17th, it finally happened.

I was out on Interstate 8 near Gila Bend shooting north when I look behind me and see this line of storms building. What’s so awesome is that normally, without the moonlight, I likely wouldn’t have seen it very well…and maybe missed it entirely. But with that extra light, I could see the cloud plain as day. One section started growing larger, so I aimed that way and waited.

Even more interesting was the fact that this cloud didn’t even seem that big. But boom! Bolts started raining down. Standing there it almost felt like the strikes themselves were just as tall as the cloud. I’ve never captured lightning from a such a small storm before…I couldn’t even believe it produced anything.

Definitely one of my favorite shots from 2013.

Energize

Energize
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 100, f/10, 15 sec // buy print)

I definitely have a nerdy side and when I got done editing this image, I could only think of one thing:

“Beam me up, Scotty.”

Such a skinny rain shaft and then to get a lightning strike travel right down the middle was pretty awesome. This was one of my favorite storms from this past summer, mainly because of the timing of capturing it just as the sun went down. Not totally dark yet, but enough light to add some great color and illuminate the landscape.

The purple color here was pretty cool. I’m assuming it was just the lightning, but the sun was also setting and it’s possible it was hitting the top of the cloud and somehow aided in the color. Love how purple the lightning bolts are themselves.

Roadside | Oklahoma & Texas

A few weeks ago we found out my wife’s grandfather passed away. Because air fare at the last minute was expensive for our family of four, we decided to drive the 927 miles to Alva, Oklahoma instead.

We had our two kids in the back and it was a long drive, so stopping to get out of the car and take photos was pretty much out of the question. But when we hit Texas and then Oklahoma, we ended up off the Interstate and started passing these old towns with abandoned buildings. I love that kind of stuff and so badly wanted to take some shots.

So I decided to be quick about it. I would roll down the window, stop, take a quick photo, and keep driving. We were already going 35mph so it wasn’t much of a time-suck. Sometimes I didn’t even stop all the way. The train image was actually my wife holding the wheel while I snapped away.

Was fun to do something different. There are some other things here besides buildings, but mostly I was looking for symmetry and decay. Hope you enjoy.

The first five photos were taken on our way there and it was completely foggy and overcast. The rest are from the trip home.

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

The snow-capped Superstition Mountains

White-capped Superstitions
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/8, iso 200, 1/320th // buy print)

What a day.

I have so many images I haven’t even looked at yet, but this was the first one I took early this afternoon. Never before have I seen the Superstition Mountains with snow that low to the desert floor. It was an amazing sight and one I wont soon forget.

This was taken at 12:47pm right after the early morning storms rolled through.

I discovered this spot a few years ago on my own, although it’s not really a secret apparently. The normally empty location had 20 cars parked on the shoulders of the road, mud everywhere, people walking, taking pictures and a police officer hanging out to make sure nothing happened.  Was definitely tough to take any kind of shot without people in it, so you get what you get!

More to come, including a pretty awesome shelf cloud I captured later in the day!

A painted sunset over uptown Phoenix

20130109-56170-Edit
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 100, f/16, 1.3 sec // buy print)

After the storm season ends in Phoenix, we seem to get the “nothing season,” which means temps that aren’t too hot and nothing but sunshine. But sometime in late November towards December, it gets colder and we have our fall/winter time here (even if it’s not like most places) and then the clouds start appearing more often and you get those beautiful sunsets again.

This was from yesterday evening. A sky that looks to be painted on with a brush.

Despite us not having snow or anything, the next 5 days are going to be crazy cold for Phoenix…lows near 20 degrees for 4-5 mornings in a row. Unprecedented. Gonna be interesting.

Trips

Trips
(please click to view large on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 320, f/16, 1.0 sec, three image stack // buy print)

I feel like I’ve been converted this past summer. I used to be all purist-y and think most stacked lightning photos were unnecessary and took away from the beauty of a single strike. But they I saw a few ones that were well done. And then I found myself in situations where the single strike was incredibly boring but showing a bunch at one time was a heck of a lot more interesting.

Here is another one from this past summer. This was taken July 29th. The storm was moving left to right, so the bolts are actually in order of the movement of the storm over the span of 1:16. With the light I had going on, I was firing off 1 second exposures and got lucky enough to capture these three strikes over the course of 76 shutter clicks.

I liked the middle one by itself, but the other two on the edges were just a bit too far to the edge of the frame for my liking. So I tried a stack and loved it.

Definitely a fun way to enhance lightning photography.

 

 

An isolated storm over Mesa

Last night we had some impressive, isolated towers go nuts in about 3-4 spots around Phoenix…mostly in the east Valley. I stepped outside my backyard and saw them going up and so we drove east to see if we could get some lightning.

Here’s a shot of the cell over east Mesa that dropped a ton of rain and caused some wind damage. I took over 600 shots and it never landed a bolt on the ground, everything was just in-cloud. A bummer…but then again…look at this thing right at sunset. Gorgeous colors.

One of my favorite moments in storm chasing is to stumble upon these solo storms. I find them absolutely majestic.

A blanket of clouds over Phoenix

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4 l, f/5.6, iso 50, /1200 // buy print)

Phoenix is almost always sunny, so any cloudy, moody day makes me happy. Back in March we had a rainy morning, so I piled the family in the car and we drove up to the stop of South Mountain.

Loved the clouds being so low over the city.  Simply beautiful.

Make sure you click on the image for the best viewing experience.