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Terry’s Bug

(image looks a wee bit sexier if you click on it to view in lightbox)

This bug was one of the first arrivals at a car show the morning of our February 5th Urban Phoenix Photowalk. The sun wasn’t even up yet when we wandered through here and there were quite a few of us grabbing shots of this sweet ride.

I’ve always had a fondness for Beetles even though I never owned one. I was friends with a girl in high school who for some reason had an awesome tripped out blue Bug that I got to ride in a few times. I always thought that thing was cool.

So a quick story about the Bug in the picture. The owner was standing around, but none of us got his name or information. When I was processing this photo, I zoomed into the little decal on that rear quarter-panel window and got the name of Wolfsburg Registry. Amazing resolution on this 5D.

Quickly I did a search, found the Wolfsburg website, clicked on photos and voila, there’s a shot of this bug. The caption under it read “Terry’s Rassy taking in the day.

No idea what a “rassy” is…I thought it was perhaps a special type of Bug, but I couldn’t find anything. I’m so very NOT a car guy, so perhaps one of you out there has an idea.

I tried to register on the site, but it’s pretty locked down, so I saw the name of the photographer, tracked him down to Facebook, sent him a message and haven’t heard back.

I’m just hoping he’s one of those guys who only checks Facebook once a month and will eventually write me.

I love this shot of his car. The Heritage Square area of downtown Phoenix is absolutely beautiful and he picked a perfect place to park his bug.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/4, iso 100)

Herbiette

If there ever was a Love Bug, it would be Herbiette, this fuchsia colored Volkswagen Beatle that we saw during our Urban Phoenix Photowalk on Saturday morning.

I was worried all week about this photowalk because the weather called for clear skies up until 5am that morning. When I scheduled the thing for that early in the day (6am), part of me is hoping we’ll get some amazing morning colors to shoot in the background of our city shooting. As luck would have it, we were all treated to a beautiful sunrise.

At the same time as our walk, there was an old car show forming at Heritage Square. It wasn’t starting until 9 or 10, but a few beauties arrived by 6:30, including this shiny VW Bug. What a combination of the car color and the sky behind it. The focal point is on the headlight at f/4.0 with the 50mm that I love so much. When I’m shooting in the city, I love getting low with the 50 and finding lines that enhance the depth of  my images. I unfortunately hadn’t shot around Heritage Square before, but it was an awesome place and I’m glad we swung by it on our tour of the downtown Phoenix area.

Speaking of the photowalk…we had a total of 18 people! What a blast too…met a ton of amazing photogs and great people. Some of them, like Trevor Dayley, I’ve become great friends with on Twitter/Facebook, but we had never met in person until Saturday (check out some of his shots here). We also had some portrait photographers who were a little nervous exploring the Phoenix alleyways by themselves, so were pumped to be able to do it with a large army of friends. Some of the guys from our first walk in December, like Rick (his first photo here), Ken, Chris, Ed, Chris and Denver, all showed up again. I also finally met John Stolarski (one of his shots here), who apparently worked at the same AMC theater I did in the 90s…only we missed each other by about a year. Crazy.

I’m thinking our next one will be in March and possibly explore a different area…like historic Glendale. I’ve heard it’s a nice place to shoot and I think I’d like to check it out sometime. There is also an upcoming opportunity at Vulture Mine Ghost Town, so we may schedule that first.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday and braved the early time and cold weather! Hope to see you all again!

Warp Speed

A few nights ago I declared I was tired of urbex for awhile and wanted to get out and shoot some desert landscapes against the setting sun. I hadn’t been to South Mountain in awhile and didn’t remember much of it, so I dragged along my wife and daughter and we drove up to the top of Summit Road where you can see the entire city. It’s breathtaking. But for me, I didn’t want to just sit there with the hundreds of other people and take a picture that everyone else was taking. So we didn’t even stop at the top and I headed back down, trying to find something to frame the evening sky against.

Only the pull-0ffs were very few, the road very tight. My wife is the one who suddenly pointed out this tiny little turnoff amidst my frustration at not seeing ANYTHING. I stopped, gave her a peck on the cheek saying she was awesome as usual and squatted outside the car to snap off some brackets.

This spot I loved immediately because the road had a sweet S-curve to it and although you can’t see it in this picture, it curls back to the right off in the distance. I also dug the little bit of pink clouds creating some contrasting lines in the sky.

But of course, it was the car that drove by during my bracketing that made this for me. You don’t necessarily plan for stuff like this, but I did want to see if I could get some car lights in the shot. These turned out awesome…almost a warp speed effect with the ghostly image of a car leaving a trail of light behind it.

This made me realize how much I miss the desert. I mean, sure, this spot was just about 30 minutes away or so, but it’s not like where I used to live where it was a half-mile to the wide open spaces. I’ve been so focused on the city and urban environment, it was a nice break to realize that the desert and mountains still hold me captive.

A pair of rails at sunset

(Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm, 17mm, ISO100, F16, six exposures)

As I’ve talked about in a few recent posts, I’ve been exploring downtown Phoenix more in the past week. On two separate occasions I’ve been able to drive around just before the sun went down and just see what I see. And you know me…I don’t tend to go out shooting unless there is hope for something good in the sky…cool clouds, a sunset, whatever. Blue skies depress me.

This was a fun night with a fairly decent sunset, although it was pretty far off on the horizon. Still, a couple of contrails thrown in gave a nice parallel with the train tracks below.  I’m a sucker for lines heading to the horizon, so these tracks were perfect. Once again, I just found myself here at sunset and tried to compose the best scene I could. I find it a lot of fun to know a sunset is coming within the hour, head out downtown somewhere and just look for a place to frame the sky on the fly. I don’t plan a shot weeks ahead…I just let it happen organically. Sure, I sometimes see a spot that I think will be good at a later date…but those don’t always seem to work out as well as the random spots you find when you are crunched for time.

The birth of a monsoon dust storm

Awhile ago I posted the above photo of an awesome looking monsoon thunderstorm headed towards us. This was shot only a half-mile from my house and once it hit, we had over an inch of rain in less than an hour.

One of the big bonuses of observing this particular scene was having a front seat, wide angle view of the birth of a dust storm. Now, this wasn’t going to become one of those massive haboobs you may have heard about that happen in Arizona, but it was fun to watch anyways.

What you will see below is likely the result of the strong microburst occurring right over the mountain where you see all the rain falling. These happen a lot during monsoon season where the downburst of rain and wind is so strong, it ends up exploding in all directions, which tends to cause lots of damage with falling trees, roof tiles, etc. If they happen over the desert, you end up with big time dust storms.

The series below (minus the last two photos) are all HDRs from three brackets each. They are very unpolished, I just ran them through the Photomatix batch process to do this, I didn’t spend any time cleaning them up. You can probably tell the differences between the one above and these below (Geez, I hope so anyways!).

To show you how fast this happens, this first photo below was taken at 2:26:02 pm.

You can see the dust starting to kick up here on the right horizon.

The dust on the right is starting to extend higher up, while on the left you can see new stuff getting going.

Now it’s really starting to go crazy.

At this point, you can clearly see the dust coming at me. I was standing here waiting to run at the last minute, wanting to capture as many shots as I could before my camera would end up hating me.

2:29:32 pm

This is where I packed up and took off running towards my car about 200 feet away. Took just over three minutes.

2:29:55 pm

Got to my car and snapped a couple of photos back, you can see it just behind me now, probably some of the dust already hitting me.

2:30:38

Less than a minute later, we’d in the middle of it.

It was exhilarating for me because while I’ve lived here my entire life, I usually see the dust storms roll into town long after they’ve formed out in the middle of the deserts. I’ve never before seen one actually start right before my eyes. Such a cool thing to finally witness.

Hopefully you guys enjoyed that!

The Harley Davidson in Bruges, Belgium

You may find after I eventually post most of my Holland-Belgium photos, that I have a serious love of cool alleyways. Everytime I walked past one on this trip, I was craning my neck and peering down them to see if it was interesting enough to shoot.

I loved this one in particular. Cobblestone, brick walls, the blur doors, the archway at the end…plus a Harley Davidson parked in the foreground and a sports car out in the distance. I actually love the balance the car creates, even if it was part of the “Smart Car” family.

This is a standard 3-bracket HDR shot, but I used one of my favorite plugins, Topaz Adjust, to give it some extra flavor. I normally go for realism in coloring and style when it comes to HDR, but every now and then a photograph cries out for some a little “above and beyond” work. I like the faded, older look this has now and it really fit the town it was shot in. The filter also seems to bring out a little bit more of the color in the doorways and the cobblestones.

Have I mentioned how much I loved Bruges? I can’t even begin to describe all the photo opps in that town…it was endless. Seriously. Endless.

(More photos from Holland-Belgium)

A sweet Ford GT

During the maternity photoshoot last week, the father-to-be noticed this sweet Ford GT drive up and we ended up finding it a bit later on our walk-around at Joe’s Farm Grill. I don’t know much about cars at all (that’s probably an understatement too), so I didn’t even realize Ford made a sweet looking ride like this. I tried to explain to Terrence the beauty of HDR photography and what a picture of this car might look like once I was done processing it…and then I realized how trying to explain HDR to a non-photog is almost like explaining what I do for a living to someone…so I just told him it would be SWEEEET!

I wish the car in the background wasn’t there and I PROBABLY could have tried content awareness to get rid of it, but it doesn’t always work out like advertised, so I just left it in.

According to Wikipedia, it’s probably kind of lucky to see one considering they were only made from 2004-06 and there are only 4,038 in the world.

Stormchasing: Scary clouds over the highway

My intention while I was out stormchasing was to get photographs that weren’t dominated by powerlines and other vehicles like a lot of severe weather photography is like these days. But I couldn’t resist the shot of these insanely crazy clouds over this road and the car of a few other stormchasers I was following along with.

These guys were great…they pulled over alongside me earlier and asked if I was chasing, so we chatted and kind of stuck together for awhile. Good guys and it was amazing to find out how friendly people were. I met another stormchaser while out there and he was just as nice a guy. Must be a fun fraternity to be a part of out there.

Funny story…

…so this car is stuck in mud in a wash/river bed where I take photos now and then. Awhile ago I was there, walked up the other side and when I looked back, a cop was by my car. He told me when I came back that it was a hot spot for stolen cars to be dumped. Crazy.

So today I stop by here and I see this car. Stuck in the mud. Window open. Who would drive a Saturn down into a wash? I figured it was stolen of course, so I snapped this photo of it, looked in the window (saw nothing except a lot of STUFF, which should have tipped me off), and decided to call 911 to report a stolen vehicle.

I’m on the phone with the 911 operator and suddenly the car door opens and a guy looks out at me…says he’s just stuck and a friend is coming.

Freaked me out. Freaks me out thinking I was right up by the car kind of peering in and if he had popped his head up at any time, I probably would have CRAPPED my pants 🙂

Anyways…weird stuff happens when you look for things to shoot.

(I still think something fishy was going on. Like the guy was drunk and just drove down some gully like an idiot)

Aston Martin Vantage

One of our favorite places to eat is Joe’s Farm Grill and while we were there the other day, we stopped to get coffee next door. Sitting in the little covered area across from The Coffee Shop was one of the owner’s cars, an Aston Martin Vantage.

What a sexy vehicle…the lines and the look was too perfect to pass up. I snapped a few shots and stitched them together to make an HDR, plus did some enhancements and smoothing to really make it shine.