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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

Stormy sunset at Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach Sunset
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, blend // buy print)

I’d been to the Oregon coast about three times before our vacation to Cannon Beach and then four nights during our recent stay. In all that time this is the best sky I’ve had. It’s always been overcast and murky, which I love most other times, but I’ve been dying for color and stormy looking skies at sunset.

Even this one didn’t end up with the color you might hope for when the sun hit the horizon, but I dug it anyways because…well I love storms as you may know. The cloud on the left above the two little pillars of rock kept moving towards me and as the sun went down and I left the beach, I got hit with some pellet-size hail. It was cold and windy…even the surf blew up a few times into my lens and I had to clean it off. A beautiful, beautiful evening.

You may even be able to spot the first floating around the top of Haystack Rock.

I processed this image by manually blending with luminosity masks, which is a tough, tough system to understand and perfect. I’ve been using LM’s for awhile now, but mainly on single images. This was a four exposure blend to get the detail in Haystack, but also the clouds and sunset off in the distance. The blending is tough. But if you get it right, I think it looks amazing.

I love LM’s for this kind of thing because I feel it’s a way more natural result than HDR processing that I used way back in the day. Still learning and perfecting, but digging the results.

 

The Peter Iredale Shipwreck | Oregon Coast

The Peter Iredale Shipwreck
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/16, 119 sec, b+w 10-stop // buy print)

Last week my wife and I took a much needed mommy-daddy ONLY vacation up to the Oregon coast. No kids, no worries…just relaxing in a beach house, reading, eating good food and seeing the sights. I miss it already.

This is the Peter Iredale shipwreck. It ran ashore back in 1906 meaning it’s been sitting there for over 106 years. Incredible. Slowly over the years it’s been buried and worn away from ocean waves, wind and probably vandals. It was amazing to me how it’s there without protection. No ropes, no fences, no nothing. In fact a Toyota pickup was just off camera to the left here by about 50 feet. The guy was clamming out in the waves. I was surprised you could just drive right by it and park.

It’s a lot bigger than you would think from a picture…at the high point there it’s about 15-18 feet. It was kind of crazy walking from our car over a bluff and seeing it for the first time. No words to describe it. Looking at something that has been in the same place for 106 years and is slowly disappearing was magical and thought-provoking.

When we were planning this trip, I knew I wanted to go here. I’d seen a few photos and couldn’t believe how close it was to Cannon Beach. I’ve been up that way before but had no idea about the ship wreck until recently.

The day was foggy and rainy, so I opted for some black and white long exposures.

 

A shelf cloud photo/timelapse over Fountain Hills

Shelf Cloud over Fountain Hills
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 200, 1/200th // buy print)

When I chase in the central plains every spring, I do so with the intent of hopefully capturing a tornado someday, but mainly to get beautiful cloud structures that we don’t see much of out here in Arizona.

And then yesterday happened. I had been out shooting snow on the Superstition Mountains in the early afternoon when my buddy Jeff started texting me about the lightning and hail raining down all over Scottsdale. In parts of that city it hailed so badly it was a crazy whiteout on freeways and even the Diamondbacks couldn’t practice this morning as their field is a sheet of ice.

I started to head back towards the cell intending to cut it off at Gilbert and the Beeline. I had a smaller storm to drive though first, but when I emerged on the other side I saw some serious dark clouds with great looking cloud bases and structures. I rush to this spot that I’ve been too before knowing it would be perfect and started timelapsing.

And while the cloud were gorgeous before, suddenly this crisp looking shelf cloud emerged and made my day. It was absolutely beautiful. My only wish is that I had been somewhere a bit nicer, but there was no time to drive anywhere else. But I didn’t care really. I was just so happy to stumble upon this thing. It even had that bluish-green tiny from all the hail falling. Amazing.

A timelapse of this storm is below…watch it full-screen so that you can have a dark background because of how dark the scene itself is.

(btw, the video quality via Vimeo seems suspect today, not sure what’s up. Usually a bit more crisp than it is.)

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!

Overflow at Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake Overflow
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/18, manual exp blend // buy print)

Anytime is rains in Phoenix must seem hilarious to the rest of the world. The local news show pictures of running water down gutters, rain drops in puddles and of course you have guys like me blabbing on Twitter about his rain gauge. The amount of rain we deal with is so tiny compared to a lot of other places in the country that everyone else much think we’re just silly.

But you gotta remember…this is the desert, we only average just over eight inches of rain per year in Phoenix. And this past Friday-Sunday my house has seen 1.39 inches in just a few days! That’s a lot for us.

And when is does that out here, things flood, washes run and cool stuff happens. Like in the photo above…the Tempe Town Lake Dam. If you aren’t local, you may not be able to see it right off the bat, but the dam is actually made of giant inflatable rubber tubes.  Each section is 240 feet long and over an inch in thickness. They are durable against UV rays, ripping, etc. and can be deflated/re-inflated in 15 minutes.

This dam is located on the Salt River right in the heart of Tempe, Arizona and creates a little recreational lake for us. But when we get tons of rain, sometimes water is released from the major dams further upstream in the mountains, or runoff from city drainage can cause the lake to start filling up.

This is a sight you don’t see too often. I actually am not sure if the dam itself was lowered at all or is this is just how much water is coming from upstream. Either way, it was a beautiful sight to see against the stormy skies we had last night.