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Tempe’s old railroad bridge

Iron Railroad Bridge Tempe Arizona

Yes, it’s man-made, so it’s  not exactly awesome, but we do have a lake in the middle of the Valley called Tempe Town Lake.  It’s actually the Salt River, but a dam has been built to make it a recreational area. We hit this spot for our latest photowalk on June 10th.

Spanning the lake are quite a few bridges and there is also a new pedestrian bridge being built that will demand to be photographed whenever it’s completed. Has a cool looking design, so I can’t wait to see it done.

But anyways, in the heart of the lake are the dual Mill Avenue Bridges, the Light Rail Bridge and this old railroad bridge. This photograph is of that ancient giant beast that still carries train across it. It’s so old though, that you could walk up to it, think it’s out-of-use and then decided to cross it only to get flattened by a speeding freight train. The first time I ever walked on its tracks I didn’t think it was still in service.

The bridge is called the Arizona Eastern Railroad Bridge. Check out this picture from the year 1900 (there are a bunch more here). Incredible. I honestly had no idea it was THAT old. I love seeing these shots of Phoenix and the surrounding cities before anything really existed.

There were a ton of shots I could have done of the bridge and I’d like to go back actually and fine some more, but standing up on this slope I had an awesome view of the base of the iron support stretching across the lake into infinity. In hindsight I may have used a narrower aperture to get a bit more detail further down, but I also really enjoy images that take a slice of detail and keep that area in focus, blurring the rest.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.8, iso 100)

 

Flowers, a bee and thirteen years

Flowers Bee Arizona Desert

I was up in Vistancia (far northwest Phoenix) on Friday late afternoon on a little commercial shoot and as we wandered around a desert trail, these flowers demanded some attention from my camera.

Last year was huge for wildflowers in Arizona…they were all over the place. On the sides of freeways, on the slopes of hills and mountains…everywhere. This year, not so much. But this little area by a pond was filled with them and it kind of reminded me of the stunning beauty of flowers in the desert.

There is a bee in there too if you can find him!

Don’t usually post blogs on the weekend, but today is my 13th wedding anniversary and I wanted to do just a little something for my wife. I wont go gushing or anything, but most of you married guys doing photography might feel the same as I do. I wouldn’t be doing this at ALL if it wasn’t for her and that’s the truth. She is the only person in the world I can count on to always support me and have my back. Her encouragement is the reason I am where I am.

Just wanted say thanks Jina for all you do. Happy Anniversary!

Static

I’m kind of anal when it comes to the composition of lightning shots. I like a certain look, a certain kind of strike, a certain kind of framing and if I don’t have it, I’ll just throw out the image. Examples are capturing only HALF a strike. You were aimed in the general area but the bolt obviously has a lot going on off-camera that you missed. That’s not good enough for me.

Anyways, this bolt has a pretty intense tendril going off camera, but for the most part, the entire strike is in the center of the frame. It’s definitely not my favorite lightning shot of all time, but the reason I’m posting it is how amazed I am at all the small details. If you look closely towards the top (and anywhere really) you can see tons of faint lines of less intense tendrils going everywhere. I love it. I don’t think my shots from last year had this much detail in them and I’m stoked to see what happens this summer.

I find this stuff just utterly fascinating. This was shot just a few weeks ago in Memphis. The official start to the Arizona monsoon season was yesterday, but so far the outlook is at LEAST 2-3 weeks away before we start seeing that seasonal storm flow begin. I’m getting antsy.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 100, f/5.0, 20 sec)

This Old House

An old, scary house in Kansas

(looks scarier with a dark lightbox around it. Click image to scare yourself)

A little more “farmex” straight from my recent stormchasing trip to the midwest. This image was taken a bit south and west of Wichita, Kansas.

I dig creepy places and shooting them, but unless I got a buddy with me, I’m not sure I could go much closer than this. Wind was blowing, creaking sounds were coming from the house and the surrounding trees…it was definitely giving me goosebumps.

I passed so many places like this. Old, abandoned farms, silos, houses, sheds…it was amazing. Highly recommend Kansas if you are looking for this kind of subject.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 100, f/16, 1/80)

 

Superman

Clouds in the sky from an airplane

(click to see this a bit larger with a darker border)

Perhaps it may surprise you, or maybe it makes total sense, but when I was a kid and thought about what it would be like to have the powers of Superman…I didn’t care about x-ray or heat vision, or super strength, or super-breath or even super-speed.

No, it was the flying. And the picture above is kind of what I dreamed about seeing if I was ever given the gift of flight. Soaring through the clouds, getting to look at them up-close…it was awesome to think about.

So of course I had to link this image to Superman for Movie Title Wednesday. I actually don’t have the love for the movie like you might think considering I was three years old when it came out. When I did get around to liking superheroes and saw the film…it probably already seemed a little bit old to me. Regardless, the first big screen version of Superman was awesome and Christopher Reeve will always be remembered for it. The rest of the films haven’t been that amazing and the latest entry, Superman Returns, was ugh. I absolutely LOVE superhero films, so I’m praying the next release puts Superman back up there with the Iron Man, Spider-man and  Batman franchises.

This of course is another image from my flight to Little Rock a few weeks back. You may remember the previous one I posted, it’s similar to this one, but I think I like this one better. You’ll laugh at me for knowing ahead of time that we’d be hitting Oklahoma around late afternoon, severe weather was in the forecast, so I sat where I sat to get a nice view north. It was all still luck, but when I was looking out the window and saw the dark clouds looming ahead…I felt like I had set this up perfectly!

I’ve never had a flight like this and I dunno if I will again. But if I ever win the lottery or something, I’ll probably hire my own airplane to become my stormchasing vehicle and start shooting this stuff from the sky. Landscapes from the sky are just so epic and breathtaking…it would be fun to do more often.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/7.1, iso 100, 1/250th)

 

A tree in the wind

(click to see a bigger tree with a nice black border)

Time for a nice little break from all the storm photos! So sometimes you get shots on purpose and most of the time it seems they come from unplanned moments or complete accidents.

While I was in Kansas awaiting a line of storms to move into my vicinity, I sat at a pull-out and took a nap. I hadn’t slept but two hours in the last 30, so I was beat. I woke up about 30 minutes later and of course had to use the restroom. There was a lot of traffic on the road, so I wandered away from my car around some haystacks to find a little privacy. Yeah, I took my camera. I dunno why, I think I wanted to make people driving by think I was actually out taking pictures, not trying to relieve myself.  Maybe because there was a gas station across the street, but I was just too lazy to drive over there. Who knows. I had just woken up!

Either way, I wandered around a bit and saw this tree moving with the wind. It was just a tree along this recently cut wheat field, but I think it was the way it looked swooshing around in this strong breeze that caught my attention. I also had my 50mm on the camera and opened it up to f/1.8 and focused on the nearest leaf to me, leaving the rest of the tree falling off into bokeh-ville. I saw it on my screen after shooting it and fell in love with it.

There is something beautiful to me about the sound of a tree blowing in the wind. I think I sometimes link it to the approach of a coming storm…where it’s been quiet, but the wind picks up, the leaves start rustling around and you know something is on the horizon. I watched the tree for a few minutes before moving on.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/1.8, iso 100, 1/1250th)

A Kansas sunset

A sunset in a wheat field in kansas

(Click on the image for a larger-than-normal view…also makes the wheat field a bit more visible)

There was something special about this sunset. I don’t know what it was, but when I was crouching down in front of this wheat field, I was in awe. Here I was, in western Kansas, in a place I’d never been before, in the middle of nowhere, not a sound but chirping birds, not a car to be seen…witnessing something beautiful.

The irony is that this was our last gasp for a storm on Wednesday before it was time for me to go. My buddy Shane and I had seen these things popup out of nowhere, so we turned the car around, drove up this highway and waited. After the sun went down, these clouds got closer and closer…and even though we knew deep down inside that there was a 1% chance we’d get a storm from these…we watched until the bitter end.

Despite the symbol of failure this final chance gave us…it was also incredibly moving. The little journey I went on somehow led me to this place to see this thing.

I’m glad I have some images like these to look back on. Most of you know how disappointed I was afterwards when I didn’t go out there to get what I wanted.

But perhaps I got what I was supposed to get?

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/16, iso 100, 1/20th)

Stay off my sh*t

(click to see a larger dumpster with a beautiful black border)

I shot this during my HDR Workshop back in February. I just love what the 50mm 1.4 does on a full frame with that wide aperture. No Focal Point or any other Photoshop effect for the depth of field…just good ol’ f/2.0.

Graffiti can either be awesome or, most of the time, just plain and basically ugly. It’s rare to find something that is just pure art out here. This is really nothing awesome, but the inspiration for the title of this post made me laugh. Kind of curious why the person wrote it. Did someone overwrite his previous crappy graffiti? Or does he perhaps sleep in the dumpster?

(exif: canon 5d eos mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.0, iso 100)

 

Eights

(image is bigger and looks better with a dark background if you click on it)

Wow, today is starting off weird. Have you ever had an image that you poured over, processed for hours, uploaded to your blog, published it and then actually LOOKED at it and realized it had major flaws? Halos? Dust spots?

How did you miss that?  How is it possible you looked over that whole image for hours and it took this new eye of viewing it on your blog that made you REALLY see it?

Well, I’m honest enough about this stuff…happened to me today. Even after previewing it before publishing I didn’t notice what I noticed later. So I took it down.  Paranoia. I don’t like sub-par stuff from myself.

Think it all goes back to taking your time. A lesson I need to learn. Sometimes I rush through processing just to get it up on the website and I end up missing things. That’s not what happened today. This was just a lack of really paying attention at the time of processing. Also dust spots are a HUGE thing that I miss and I see others missing. You just don’t notice it well enough. I have to usually make myself stop and search them out.

NOW…this image is from the abandoned dog track north of Phoenix. I took a lot of shots while I there that one day and I still might have a few left in the tank to show at some point. What’s funny about this image and some others who have shot there recently is that some of sections of chairs don’t really look too old when framed in a certain way.

(exif: canon rebel xsi, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.0, iso 100)

 

Warped

(yo…the image gets bigger if you click on it…try it out)

Last month about 20 of us got together for a little downtown Phoenix photowalk and it was simply a blast. Especially when we all stopped to eat at Five Guys…holy moley that place is good.

I owe this shot to one of the other photographers with us that night. I wish I could remember her name, but I suck. I saw her standing by a fence looking into this place, so I wandered over to see what was up. What an amazing spot. The first thing I thought of was that I wanted a bride and groom standing in the middle of these warped tiles with that fantastic old windowed-wall behind them.

Of course, that wasn’t going to happen on such short notice, not to mention the chain link fence surrounding this wide open area. So I tossed that idea away and concentrated on getting something sans models.

The 50mm was perfect for shooting through this fence, so I got low to the ground and tried to pull in the amazing shadows going on from some off-camera street lights.

Now I gotta send some love to my boy Brian Matiash. He *hearts* a filter called “Cyberpunk” in Phototools. He uses it a lot, it’s kind of his signature style. It doesn’t always work for me with my landscape/stormy subject matter anyways, but I tend to stay away from it because…well…I don’t like stealing someone else’s mojo.

Of course, when I do, I like to give credit. I loved this image when I was processing it, but it just lacked something special. For some reason I thought “Cyberpunk” and splashed that dude on there and bam, it was right. I masked out a bit of it around the tiles, but wow I loved what it did to the pavement and background building.

Two final things on this beautiful Friday with me heading home early from Vegas:

1. If you get inspired by someone or borrow heavily from stuff they do…be a man (or woMAN) and give some friggin’ credit. There is nothing worse than passing off something as your own when you deep down inside know you saw it on some guy’s website, or a webinar, or whatever. Make your momma proud.

2. It’s Follow Friday on Twitter, so in the spirit of that, you guys should follow Sarah Fisch because…holy crap I LOVE her landscape work.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 400, f/2.5)