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Lightning near Casa Grande on July 6th

Lightning over Casa Grande
(please click to view on black // canon 5d3, canon 50mm f/1.2 l, iso 125, f/9.0, 25 sec // buy print)

A friend named Sarah texted me last night about a completely other subject, and then added something about beautiful, huge clouds over their area…which was Queen Creek. I opened my front door from downtown and saw a monster cloud looming over the Sacaton area. Pulled up radar and wow, storms had just popped up out of nowhere down there, all the way to Picacho Peak and Marana.

Threw my gear and daughter in the car and blasted south. I sat in this one spot for about an hour and just photographed lightning as it was almost stationary for the entire time. It did get a bit closer towards the end, and this is one of the images from that time.

Those are the lights of Casa Grande and I’m sitting just north of there. You can also spot some blowing dust on the horizon where the strikes landed.

A bunch of stuff from this night, more to share at a later time!

Trifecta over Tucson

A trifecta
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 50, f/16, 2.0 sec // buy print)

This photo may look familiar if you follow me regularly…it was taken roughly four minutes after this other one I posted last summer.

The amazing thing is how the colors change in a matter of minutes. While I loved the other one, this one is my favorite of the two. I dig the purple tones and also love how the rainbow is much more defined and easier to see here. I am showing my work in an art show this Friday and Saturday and this just got printed on a gorgeous 20×30 canvas.

I still find myself so blessed that I was somehow in the right place on this night. I’ve never been able to capture lightning like this against an amazing sunset …but to get a rainbow tossed in was just a bonus.

The bottom of the barrel of storm images from last summer is starting to become visible…but there are a few more coming over the next couple months!

Touchdown in Tucson

Touchdown in Tucson
(please click to view on black and so it fits your screen // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 39mm (cropped), iso 200, f/10, 20sec // buy print)

Ahh…south Tucson. This was the first time I’d ever ventured up to A-Mountain and I barely had time to setup before the lightning rained down. I loved being up so high, but was also pretty close to this strike. It was a bit nerve wracking…this was only 39mm (albeit cropped to the left side of the frame), but I felt a weeee bit exposed up there.

The bright line of city lights next to the landing of the bolt is Interstate 10 as it turns and heads off towards New Mexico.

Nothing I enjoy more in a lightning strike than seeing where it lands.

Make sure to click on the photo to see it fit your screen if you happen to be on a smaller monitor.

A couple of bolts over Tucson

(please click to view larger // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 26mm, f/14, iso 100, 4 sec // buy print)

The evening of 8th of August was an extraordinary one up on A-Mountain on the western edge of Tucson. This was the same night with the sunset-rainbow-lightning combination and I actually have 2-3 more shots I will share at some point down the road.

This was when the color was just about gone, so I opted for B&W, which is one of my favorite ways to process lightning photos anyways. You gotta love Tucson with the city lights, but also majestic mountains right on the north and east sides of town. Makes for such an awesome skyline.

The monsoon is on a break now and I’m hoping and praying that we still have a few days left before the winds shift and I don’t get to shoot lightning for another 9 months!

A barrage of lightning over Phoenix

The amount of times I’ve stacked lightning images to create one mega-photograph can be counted on a single hand. And this is the first time I’ve ever posted one.

I was never a fan of stacked lightning shots until I saw an amazing one by Dan Ransom and then Justin Terveen’s image from Dallas. Suddenly I was like…okay, they CAN be interested in the right context.

For me personally…this image is the result of all the individual shots being kind of boring. I’d never post one by itself because it lacked awesomeness.

But together…they kind of show you the power of a monsoon thunderstorm. This is a stack of 12 images over the course of 10 minutes. Looking north from 7th street near McDowell.

 

An isolated storm over Mesa

Last night we had some impressive, isolated towers go nuts in about 3-4 spots around Phoenix…mostly in the east Valley. I stepped outside my backyard and saw them going up and so we drove east to see if we could get some lightning.

Here’s a shot of the cell over east Mesa that dropped a ton of rain and caused some wind damage. I took over 600 shots and it never landed a bolt on the ground, everything was just in-cloud. A bummer…but then again…look at this thing right at sunset. Gorgeous colors.

One of my favorite moments in storm chasing is to stumble upon these solo storms. I find them absolutely majestic.

The Dance

Symmetry - Arizona Monsoon Lightning

(click to see on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-210mm f/4, 205mm, f/5.6, iso 400, 30 sec // buy print)

The one fun thing about stormchasing…whether it’s photographing monstrous thunderheads, dust storms, or lightning strikes…is that it’s always different. Something new, something exciting…something you learn.

For instance…lightning strikes. They are never the same. Which is why I love it so much. And even when two lightning strikes almost appear to be mirror reflections of each other, they are still different. Like in this photo.

But it’s still kind of interesting to look at from a sort of “un-microscopic” eye. These two bolts really appear to be doing some kind of dance together…mirroring each others moves. Almost perfect symmetry.

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.

 

The Fountains at The Bellagio

(Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, ISO 100, F16 (or F22, can’t remember), two exposures blended)

I was in Las Vegas this week for my day job and while I didn’t have a ton of time to explore, I did get out for a few hours each of the two nights and look around.

I just happened to walk out of The Bellagio just 10 minutes before the first water show started for the night and thus I had a nice, flat railing to put my tripod on to capture the event. If you’ve never seen this water show before, it’s definitely a MUST if you ever are in Vegas. It may not last too long (it plays to music, so when that song runs out…), but it’s majestic, inspiring and beautiful to watch.

If you are just there to see it, I recommend being in the front, which would be those roundish portals on the left side of this image. But from where I stood, I liked the lines and perspective on the left, the way the lights reflected off the water creating even more lines, plus the rising City Centre buildings in the distance. And if you look closely, there is a sliver of the moon on the upper right.

This is not an HDR shot, but just a blend of two exposures. Although recently I got into a debate about that, but I am fairly certain exposure blending is not considered HDR.

First Friday is tonight!

(Canon Rebel XSi, 17-35mm, 17mm, ISO100, F10, six exposure HDR, Photomatix, CS5, Topaz Adjust)

The First Friday art walk in downtown Phoenix happens tonight and for the first time I’ll be showing my work in a collaborative gallery for a month. I’m beyond excited and cannot wait for 6pm! My wonderful mom and step-dad are babysitting for us so that my wife and I can get out of the house and just enjoy a lovely evening meeting people, talking to people and enjoying our time spent together.

If you are interested in coming, click right here for the flyer. Myself along with five other photographers will have their work shown at Day Twelve, which is a church plant in downtown Phoenix, one we’re helping to get going. Their goal is to become a part of the city and aid it in anyway possible, and right now that includes embracing the artists in Phoenix and helping to showcase their work. If you’ve never heard of a church doing something like that before…join the club. It’s amazing. The “gallery” is where they house the Day Twelve office, but it’s more of a collaborative gallery/workspace for those who need it.

Like I said…this isn’t just about me. There is another HDR guy down there in Rick Young who is amazing, my buddy Dee who specializes in beautiful landscapes, Chereth who tells stories from Africa with her portraits, Tiffany the vintage fashion photographer and Steve who just “sees” things worth shooting anywhere he goes. While I was down there on Wednesday helping to hang these images with a few of the other photogs…it was so awesome to see how different we all were but how much we loved each other’s work and were inspired by that.

Today’s photo was taken at the same time as the one in the flyer…at a pedestrian overpass crossing Interstate 10. I was trying so hard to find a place to get a stormy sunset photo with the freeway and city skyline integrated into one and it’s a difficult task down here. There aren’t many spots at all, the freeway doesn’t run through the areas with tall buildings, so you kind of have to take what you can get.

Hope to see some of you tonight! And from the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you who have supported me since I started doing this…it’s been an amazing journey and I can’t wait to see what’s next.