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A lucky lightning strike at sunset

(click to see on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4, f/5.6, iso 200, 1/1000th // buy print)

If you watched my timelapse last week, then you’ve already seen this image. I also posted it it on 500px, so you may have seen it there too. But I felt like this still frame deserved it’s very own post on my blog because I absolutely love it and it’s why I am so obsessed with storm chasing.

One thing that’s always been true for me when I’m out chasing…is that I tend to get my best images where I least expect them. Last Thursday my goal was to blast down to Tucson right at sunset to shoot some lightning. That was my whole reason for going. And yet, I was stopped just short of Casa Grande when I saw this cloud turning into something amazing right before my eyes. Whatever I had planned down in Tucson suddenly evaporated and I knew this was the best thing going on at that moment.

It’s kind of what I dig about chasing the monsoon. And it also makes it hard sometimes. I leave the house a lot completely unsure of myself. Will I get anything tonight? Will it be a bust? How can I get something new or different? What if last season’s lightning barrage was it for me?

And then as I’m driving I see a cloud like the one above and I remember why I do this and how it usually works.

Just to speak about the image for a second. This was part of the timelapse as I said. So at this point in the capturing process, I was taking a photo every 4 seconds. The shutter speed was 1/1000th. I shot for around 40 minutes. And in that time I saw less than three lightning strikes.

And somehow…I got lucky enough to get one here. I mean…4 seconds apart at 1/1000th! The odds must be incredibly high. It makes me so incredibly proud of this one!

So thrilled to get this last week…on only my second day out chasing. Going to be a fun season!

The Trees

When I last flew to Oregon, I high-tailed it for Cannon Beach. I was in such a hurry, it’s a surprise that I noticed anything else, but I did. I actually drove past the spot below before turning around and pulling over. Something caught my eye and for some reason I knew I had to go back.

I saw all this moss hanging from the branches…and the sun had come out from the clouds. From my car, it looked pretty amazing. But it was nothing like the view from a little path I found. Backlit, mossy trees…it was like walking in heaven. In the first scene below, all I could think about was a that I wish I had a bride & groom standing down there. I mean, it most likely would end up being one of those shots you only dream about.

So I hope you enjoy a little stroll through some trees I found in Oregon. Processed with VSCO Film.

This last one…such a sweet spot.

The Three Watchmen

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4 l, f/22, iso 200, 1/4 sec // buy print)

There is something majestic about the Saguaro cactus. When they stand by themselves, or even in a group of three…they make me think of something ancient…guardians of the world. Almost like Ents from Lord of the Rings.

Ooops, there’s my nerdy side.

I was driving down this road chasing a gorgeous storm coming in over the Bradshaw Mountains when I spotted these guys. I just loved, loved, loved the composition with the storm in the background, so I set up and prayed that I’d capture a strike.

This was one of those “I hope I get lucky shots” where I had to employ rapid fire with the camera because it was still so light out.

Well, I did get lucky and couldn’t have asked for a better placed lightning bolt.

One of my favs from 2011.

Streets of New York

Streets of New York

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(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35 mm 1.4 l, f/2 iso 100 1/160 // buy print)

When we were in New York back in October, my wife and I took a day to wander the city. We started off in the West Village by grabbing a quiet little breakfast and then wandering down random streets, taking pictures of anything we thought was interesting.

There is something quite beautiful about an empty road. I loved the slight sprinkling of leaves, the bike, the shadows and the trees.

I focused on the manhole cover at f/2 to drop off focus in the background quickly.

An evening out at Four Peaks

The last six weeks have been filled with nothing but photoshoots, which has been absolutely amazing and huge for me. I’m so excited about where things are headed .

But it also left little time for me to get out of the house to shoot other things. And I missed that. So on Monday when there were reports of snow on the outlying deserts, I packed up the car, including my daughter, and made a beeline for…well, the Beeline Highway. And the Four Peaks area.

The sky was magnificent of course, the Peaks had snow, the desert was gorgeous and the air was a chilly 40 degrees. It was awesome to just be out in nature again after the six week hiatus.

So here are some shots from the evening. You will likely notice a different feel to these. Recently for my portrait/wedding work, I’ve switched my processing over to a toolset called VSCO Film. I used a few of their presets and combined them with my own tweaks to come up with something I just love. It’s been fantastic for all the photoshoots, I absolutely dig how my images are looking these days.

But I wanted to try that same kind of film style on these desert images. And I love it. Truly. It’s actually created a debate in my head on how I want to do this kind of thing going forward.

Regardless, I hope you enjoy them. I used three lenses for these shots below…the Tammy 17-35 2.8, Canon 35 1.4 and Canon 70-200 2.8.

(click to view these on black if you want, and roll through the slideshow)

The next two were taken using the 35mm 1.4 wide open…and I friggin’ love the subtle depth of field.

Had to include this shot of my daughter…bundled up, playing A-Breaker on the iPhone!

Some lightning on North Mountain

North Mountain Strike - Arizona Thunderstorms

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4 l, f/11, iso 200, 25 sec // buy print)

Getting any kind of lightning from a winter storm here in Arizona is possible, but a lot harder to come by than the summer monsoons. Tuesday night ended up being a lucky one for me, as some nice looking winter-ish cells blew through town and put on a bit more of a lightning show than we’re used to.

This was taken on top of a 7-8 story parking garage looking north. Ironically, the lightning strike hits a mountain in the North Mountain Preserve, an area surrounded by the city. I didn’t even notice until I zoomed in while in Lightroom that the strike landed right on my side of that hill. Love shots where you see the location of the hit.

Hoping this is a good omen for some more lightning photography this winter, but we’ll see how that goes.

Cape Fear

Cape Fear - Devil's Gulch Oregon Coast

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4 L, f/16, iso 400, 58 sec // buy print)

As this Movie Title Series continues on an on for over a year now…it feels like I’m running thin on movies I’ve seen that have titles which work well enough for images.  Hence you may start seeing films that I’ve actually never viewed before. Or perhaps I may have seen portions of it, but have no clue what it was about, nor remember anything.

Sort of like Cape Fear.

I am certain I saw this movie, or at least the majority of it. But aside from knowing it was on the water, kind of scary and called Cape Fear, that’s all I remember. Now that I look it up on IMDB, I find out the plot was about “A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a 14 year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.” Creepy. I believe people liked it…I remember all this talk about how freaky it was. Robert DeNiro…Nick Nolte…Jessica Lange. May need to watch this one again. Lange is now on American Horror Story and is downright creepy in that as well.

This image is from Devil’s Gulch along the Oregon coast. When I stood there, it was kind of freaking me out a bit. You probably don’t know it, but the road around that mountain on the horizon isn’t down by the water. It’s about  1/4 to 1/3 of the way up the mountain. That’s how far you have to hike to get down to this point. The sun was going down, it was getting dark, kind of foggy, the waves were crashing around me, the low-tide exposed rocks were black as night…and I have to say…I was nervous.

Cape Fear.

But I loved this scene. I hung in there for a few exposures to get it right. The silhouette of that mountain was just too beautiful to pass up. I definitely would love a week driving up the coast of Oregon, and that probably still wouldn’t be enough time.

A hundred million fingers

Fingers - Arizona Monsoon Lightning

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4, f/5.6, iso 100, 30 sec // buy print)

My favorite band in all the world is Snow Patrol. I’ve loved them for years now. Most of the time when I like a band, I end up being bored with them after listening to their CD for awhile. Not so with this group. They’ve never, ever gotten old to me. I was finally able to see them in concert a few years back and wish they’d return to Arizona soon.

The reason I bring them up is because the title of this image is a take-off of their album, “A Hundred Million Suns“, which came out in 2008. I always though that title was so interesting and when I saw the image of this lightning strike on the back of my camera, it only took me a second to know what I’d dub it on the blog.

This strike is kind of unique in the amount of tendrils or fingers that are exploding all over the place. It was an intense bit of electrical release.

And stuff like this isn’t always visible to the naked eye. It’s so quick, so bright, you can miss most of what a camera picks up. Especially if you aren’t already looking in the right spot.

Which is why I love shooting it!

Life is Beautiful

(click to see on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.3, f/1.6, iso 2000, 1/80 // buy print)

It’s that time of the week again…time for Movie Title Wednesday. When I looked at this image thinking I’d use it for the weekly film series, the first title that popped into my head was Life is Beautiful.

What’s kind of weird about that was I couldn’t remember a single reason WHY I connected a bicycle with that film. The movie came out in 1997, so that’s fourteen years ago and I don’t remember much about it at all. But then I Googled “Top 10 Bike Movies” and it was on almost every list. So obviously I remembered something from that movie.

So what I do recall about Life is Beautiful was that it was an amazing, powerful film. The first real movie I watched with subtitles. And I remember afterwards telling my wife that about a 1/3 of the way through the movie it suddenly felt as if you weren’t reading anymore…like you almost forgot it was in subtitles. And I remember it being sad and probably getting a bit of dust in my eyes at the end.

Of course, my bigger memory is the star of the film, Roberto Benigni (who won Best Actor), at the Oscars making his way to the front by walking across the chairs instead of the aisle. His acceptance speech was one of the most memorable in history. I’d love to watch Life is Beautiful again, but it’s kind of like Schnidler’s List to me…it’s always hard to re-watch those gut-wrenching Holocaust movies.

Now, about the picture…what is it about bicycles that are so interesting? When I was in Amsterdam, or anywhere in Holland or Belgium really…if I saw a bike, I wanted to take a picture of it. Old bikes against old brick walls…a hundred bikes lining a canal…an alleyway with…yup…bikes.

I saw this one outside the New City Studio gallery this past First Friday in downtown Phoenix and I had to shoot it. I really dug how the light was almost like a spotlight on the bike and then how it falls off everywhere else. Definitely had to crank up the ISO on this shot, but I love the feel.