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Red Head

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.8, iso 100, 1/160th)

Happy Friday to you all! Excited about today…the family and I have a big photoshoot in front of the Session Nine cameras this evening and we’re stoked. Been about four years since we last had pictures taken and that was without our little girl along for the ride. Going to be epic!

This image was just a simple scene in New York’s Central Park. A red headed woman quietly reading a book surrounded by a green island in the middle of a giant concrete jungle.

So cool.

Please click on the photo to see it with the black background.

When Harry Met Sally

Music Man - New York Central Park

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/1.8, iso 400, 1/320 // buy print)

I’ve been waiting and waiting for a time when I could use this film for Movie Title Wednesday and it’s finally here. It took a trip to New York to make it happen, but that is perfectly okay with me.

When Harry Met Sally is one of my all-time favorite movies. In fact, I wanted to join my wife in visiting The Met just so we could stand in that one spot and practice saying “Pecaan pieeeeeee…pecan pieeeeeeee.” Probably the best romantic comedy ever, but I think it kind of transcends that “chick flick” status into a classic. You have to see it. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan at their best. A movie spanning years and ending on New Year’s Eve in New York. Funny, heartwarming…unforgettable.

This photo is one of my favorites from the trip. I was dying to use it for the movie series, but I couldn’t think of a title until of course I talked to my wife. I had already thought of WHMS, but didn’t connect the dots too well. Yeah, it’s set in New York, just like my photo. But my wife remembered how the movie is full of awesome, big band music. Harry Connick Jr….It Had to Be You. Good stuff.

Which works perfectly with this old man playing a saxophone in Central Park. Not to mention the fact my wife and I were together, exploring the park…kind of like Harry and Sally wandering around New York.

This actually wasn’t a simple shoot and keep moving. I took my time composing this. Trying to figure just where to place the man at the end of the tunnel. How much of the blurred wall to show. But the bigger aspect was employing some patience I don’t usually possess. The guy wasn’t facing in this direction the entire time. It took maybe 30 seconds to finally snap the photo with him perfectly silhouetted exactly how I wanted.

I think a younger version of me from not even that long ago would have just shot and kept on walking.

All the crazy time we spent shooting bridges and I knew a shot like this would be more meaningful to me than anything else. That’s why I love photography.

War of the Worlds

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, 50mm 1.4, f/5.6, iso 100, 30 sec // buy print)

It’s Movie Title Wednesday here on the bloggity blog blog, and this week we have a remake of an old classic, which was an adaption from one of my favorite books of all-time.

War of the Worlds. The recent remake version starred Tom Cruise and was just okay for me. I love those kind of sci-fi, end of the world type disaster films, but they just didn’t do a very good job with it. The original version (at least, I think there are only two, I’m not doing any research here…there might be hundreds, who knows) was considered the “classic”, but all I remember is being disappointed at how different it was from the book.

Now…the actual book was brilliant. Written by H.G. Wells, I read it in high school and I was so sucked into the story, I remember looking over my shoulder a few times while I read it in my bedroom. If you’ve never read the book, then ignore both movies I mention above and go pick up a copy. In fact, I may read it again.

So why did I choose this movie anyways? Well…the lightning above….it reminded me of the Tom Cruise version with the tall, slim robotic tripod alien beings walking over the cities destroying everything around them. In fact, I don’t know how you look at the image above and don’t at least get some impression of a giant, spindly creature towering over Chandler, Arizona. Kind of creeps me out actually.

I have to give some credit for the title of this image to my friend Scott Wood. Not the title itself, but the idea of finding “things” in lightning. Sort of like looking at puffy clouds and seeing a dog, or a car, or whatever. Scott posted an image called The Skater” and it made me realize how much fun it is to look for familiar things in a lightning strike. It’s definitely not always easy.

But this one was a no-brainer.

Hinged

Hinged - Urban Phoenix

(click to see on black // canon rebel xsi, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.5, iso 100 // buy print)

Stormchasing can be an unstoppable beast during the summer, where I feel like I’m non-stop on the road or processing weather photos. It’s actually been a nice break the past 4-5 days to have nothing going on almost anywhere in the state. I’ve gotten some other projects started, made headway in other areas that need addressing and have just relaxed a bit around home with the family.

Although yesterday when I picked my daughter up from daycare she said “Now we go stormchasing daddy!

Ugh, hated to disappoint her. And me. Can’t stormchase with no storms little one!

I actually processed this image back a few months ago when I needed to do something different than lightning and dark clouds. This was from a photowalk back on December 29th of last year around downtown Phoenix. I made it a goal that day to stick with my 50mm 1.4 and just shoot what I saw with it. I love the little details on the old buildings and warehouses in the southern area of downtown.

I always liked this old hinged panel and was glad I finally went back and brought it to life.

(oh yeah, countdown to Discovery’s Storm Chasers premiere is now…5 days)

Purple Rain

Purple Rain - Arizona Monsoon Lightning

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/6.3, iso 200, 25 sec // buy print)

Let me just get this out of the way. It’s Movie Title Wednesday. I needed something to go with this shot from Tuesday night.

Purple Rain. I mean, what else could possibly work right? Although I will say this…it’s obvious to me, but I had my buddy Jacob Lucas try to guess it last night and he didn’t come close to the right title. In fact, he didn’t even know that was rain falling. So maybe it’s just me.

But the caveat is this: I’ve never seen the movie. I don’t want to see it. I wont ever, ever see it. But I had to use it.

Another reason Jacob said he couldn’t guess the title was because he thought the lightning was the subject of the photo, not the rain. Well…that was a good point. But the reality is…I framed the shot the way I did because I WANTED the rain to be the star here, and was hoping for some lightning to compliment it and give it some punch.

Otherwise, it’s just rain falling.

Granted, this was a fairly epic curtain of precipitation. It’s not always so well defined.

Lastly I’ll say this…the color is not enhanced. At least, not with any color slider. I upped the contrast and then ran it through Silver Efex and blended the layer. The background of the image is that ugly orange-ish color because of the distant Phoenix city lights. And sometimes lightning does light up a sky in crazy colors.

 

Speed Limit 55

Speed Limit 55 - Arizona Monsoon Lightning

What a day of stormchasing on Friday! All the way south almost to Tucson, when crazy lightning starts happening, but also a lot of rain and tough shooting conditions. We ended up heading back to Phoenix because newer storms were building west of it and we figured that was easier to intercept than chasing them south of Tucson.

Almost looked like this amazing night would turn out to be a bust because I hadn’t gotten a single lightning photo. Then we got to Phoenix and it was still looking grim. But I noticed a darkness growing over South Mountain and after that that skies opened up and we had lightning to shoot in multiple directions!

I found a dry spot just south of Hunt Highway on Gilbert Road, my old stomping grounds, and just fired away.

I have a few similar shots of lightning hitting beyond this road…but only this one has the speed limit sign lit up from a passing car.

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/5.6, iso 100, 30 sec – buy print)

Legends of the Fall

A sea of wheat -

It’s another Movie Title Wednesday around these parts and this one was admittedly kind of hard to match with a film. And if you think, Field of Dreams, already used it. My unwritten rule is to never use the same movie twice, which is getting harder and harder.

Thus today we have Legends of the Fall, it kind of fits this image, although I can’t really tell you much about the movie itself. I usually try to stick to films I love or at least enjoyed, but I don’t remember either way on this one. Brad Pitt before he was Brad Pitt…Aiden Quinn, Madeline Stowe…all that is from memory. And of course, Anthony Hopkins. They lived out on a farm, there was a love triangle I think and yeah, that’s all I remember.

Now…this was another “farmex” image shot this past May, whilst in Kansas, stormchasing non-existent storms. I probably could have forgotten all about the weather and just shot this kind of stuff if I hadn’t been out there for the reason I was. Regardless, as I drove aimlessly through these old farm lands, I was subjected to a feast of abandoned beauties everywhere I looked.

The wind was breezy, which provided some kind of cool motion in the wheat fields that extended out forever in all directions.  I wouldn’t have minded getting a little closer to this old barn, or farm, or house or whatever it was…but it was kind of creepy out there and I also didn’t want to upset the neighbors, not to mention I was actually out chasing weather.

As it was…I kind of liked it from this spot.

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/3.5, iso 100, 1/1600 – buy print)

Independence Day

(click to view a tad larger with a black border)

Yup, it’s the middle of the week and that means Movie Title Wednesday!

Independence Day. Awesome film. Total summer movie popcorn fun. Will Smith taking down aliens. Jeff Goldblum mumbling and uttering cool phrases like “Forget the fat lady! You are obsessed with fat ladies!” Harry Connick Jr., Randy Quaid with his “Up yours!”…and just all kinds of good stuff. Perhaps the biggest, cheesiest part of the movie is Bill Pullman standing up in front of the men giving his Independence Day speech right before we figure out how to beat the aliens. Gotta love it.

I’m a sucker for a good alien invasion movie and I can’t help but like this one.

So the connection to this lightning image actually has to do with the Fourth of July. This is what I was out shooting  instead of watching fireworks this year. Well, at least, watching those man-made fireworks. This show was much, much better.

When you shoot lightning a lot, you’ll end up experiencing the whole “Wow, didn’t even see that one” moments when you get back home and are importing images. This shot was one of those. I don’t think I ever saw it. I probably was looking down at my phone at the radar and missed it entirely. It wasn’t until I scrolled back later through my camera did I go “Wooooahhh…where did you come from?”

I love those moments.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/4.5, iso 200, 20 sec)

Welcomed sight

Storm Clouds Over Phoenix

(click to see the image fit on your screen with a black border, or larger if you have an insanely huge monitor)

The clouds in this picture are child’s play compared to what is coming or what I’ve already seen this year. But it doesn’t matter…I am excited about them anyways. We haven’t had rain or a storm here in Arizona in probably a month and nothing like the towering monsoon storms that we get during the summers.

Yesterday officially launched my 2011 stormchasing campaign. I had daughter-duty, so we grabbed toys, snacks, juice, dvd player, movies and whatever else I could think of to keep this kid occupied all afternoon/evening. I grabbed the umbrella (which I knew would be pointless), tripod, camera bag and we ran out the door around 4:30pm. I would realize later that I remembered everything except to change out of my flip-flop sandals into sneakers. Dumb.

There are big ants and sharp pointy objects in the desert…just an fyi.

This is why I love my daughter (well one of the bazillion reasons): Before we left I said to Lyla…“Okay, you ready to chase some storms and see some cool clouds?”

And I swear she goes, without prompting:

“And lightning!”

Love.Her. And she’s just two and a half.

As soon as we left, she looks up…“Daddy, look at the clouds!”

What a trooper. We didn’t get home until 9pm and visited not only south of town but then all the way up to the Beeline Highway/Bush Highway intersection northeast of Phoenix. She was having a ball and it suddenly made this summer seem like it might be a bit more fun on days I take her with me.

We saw some things, ran into my buddy Chris Frailey and shot a bit together, but mostly it was just clouds like this. Rain fell, reports of hail in town…but tiny, brief, isolated incidents. This weekend, especially Monday, looks to be huge and I’m pumped.

Oh, btw, the lower left has some birds flying in the distance, those aren’t dust spots *grin*

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/16, iso 100, 1/125)

Snow on the Four Peaks

Snow on the Four Peaks Arizona

Back on the very last day of December, I posted a picture of the Four Peaks mountain range fresh after a snow storm hit them. You can see that one below. I didn’t process the one above for awhile after that, but eventually got around to working on it. I’m glad I did because it ended up being kind of cool for me to really see how fast things can change when viewing a landscape.

The top photo occurred exactly 7 minutes and 42 seconds after the one below. I moved spots between the two captures…going lower I believe for the top one.

It’s kind of amazing to see this back on frames instead of what you saw with your eyes. While I  totally witnessed this and knew what was happening…it’s hard to top a before and after pair of images.

Oh, and if I haven’t said it before…man I love Arizona.

(top – exif: canon rebel xsi, canon 50mm 1.4, f/14, iso 100) (bottom – exif: canon rebel xsi, canon 50mm 1.4, f/16, iso 100)

Snow on the Four Peaks Arizona