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Intensity

A new image I never edited from September 5th, 2017…one of the most spectacular monsoon scenes I’ve personally experienced…the light was so intense from the setting sun, so magical…the color out of control, that I just stood there in awe. Toss in a rainbow, gorgeous desert cactus and shrubs and a strong downburst over Organ Pipe and it was almost too much haha.

Missing this stuff.

Bathed in Light

I must be learning how to be more patient these days, or at least, maybe finally realizing I can’t be on every storm, so might as well do the best I can with what I got. I was way down south yesterday, near Santa Rosa and Pisinemo with some really nice storms, but I had a bad feeling that they wouldn’t last into the night. At the same time, I see a nice line moving into Phoenix and realized I’m probably hosed.

In the past, I may have turned around and raced back home in a panic, but yesterday I stuck it out, got in front of the storms moving towards Organ Pipe and saw some of that magical monsoon light that shows why it’s special to chase out here.
Only captured two lightning strikes yesterday, this was the first and made the entire trip worth it. The rain was cresting the peaks, the sun was blazing on the desert landscape and it was all stunning. There is a little rainbow behind the left saguaro, plus an even fainter second one near the bolt. That Organ Pipe area has really grown on me this year. Always something awesome happening out that way.

And now it’s bed time. I had a time-lapse/photo gig at PIR shooting DC Solar construction lighting equipment at 1am this morning and got home around 5:30. Haven’t slept at all! Time to crash!

Chuar Butte

The Grand Canyon has been an elusive prey. I’ve made countless trips up there the past few years trying to get lightning on a good storm and been skunked every time. Last year I finally got a downburst right in front of me…but no bolts. A few years before I got some strikes out on the Little Colorado plateau, but nothing in the Canyon itself. Always a long trip to come home with little success.

Well that all finally ended Friday, and it was with this shot that I didn’t even know I had captured until I was going through images in Lightroom. A perfect thunderstorm with a beautiful little strike hitting smack in the middle of an island plateau on the eastern side of the Canyon. I squealed a little bit when I saw this 🙂

The time-lapse of this storm exploding and dumping rain will be cool too, super stoked to have come away not only with some great stuff, but to have spent the entire day with my kiddos as well was well worth the time and sunburns!

Crack of Dawn

(click on the image to see it full sized)

Last summer I made quite a few trips up to the Grand Canyon in an attempt to capture lightning, but always I failed. I even had a perfect storm right in front of me with a nice little downdraft, but nary a bolt came out of it. It was incredibly frustrating to say the least. To make the attempt over and over and come away empty handed…well I’m sure you can understand how that might feel.

I’ve had a few people say…but you’re at the Grand Canyon though, so it’s always worth the trip. Inside, I wanted to say…no, it’s not. It’s 7 hours of driving only to fail again and again. Outwardly, I’m like…yeah, true. You’re right. But of course I really didn’t feel that way.

However, this photo kinda represents what those people were trying to say and maybe it’s changed my heart a little bit. I arrived the night before to capture any lighting I could, but the storms didn’t cooperate as usual. I parked in a campground, pretty depressed, slept an hour or so, woke up early and made my way to Navajo Point to watch the sunrise before heading home.

The sky was dark, and then slowly the light grew. Then clouds were majestic. The North Rim caught the first light of the sun perfectly and I stood there in silence, taking it all in. It was overwhelming. Even though it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States, it was 6am and I was utterly alone. It was perfectly quiet except for the clicking of my camera.

I won’t soon forget that morning. Despite the supposed failure, I was thankful to be there. I left with a happy note in my heart and knew I’d be back yet again.

End of the Rainbow

A powerful thunderstorm that dropped heavy rain and pea-sized hail moves off over Dead Indian Canyon along the Little Colorado River. This canyon eventually connects to the Grand Canyon. As the storm departs, water runs through the desert and a stunning rainbow seems to disappear into the canyon itself.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/8.0, iso 100, 1/80th // buy print)

So many aspects of a storm are amazing to photograph and usually you get stuck wanting to always be in front of it for that awesome structure and lightning and whatnot…but sometimes the departing storm, where you have given up chasing but decide to watch it move off across the landscape…can be just as beautiful.

This was about 14 miles east of the Grand Canyon along the Little Colorado a few days ago. Specifically labeled Dead Indian Canyon on Google Maps…it’s a stunning location. I rode out a pretty good storm along this road, with pea-sized hail and heavy rain…I could see runoff draining through the landscape down to the canyon all over the place. As it moved by though…the sun came out for about a minute and created this beautiful rainbow…and seemingly disappeared into the depths of the canyon.

One of my favorite moments from this summer.

Fields of Gold

FIelds of Gold
(please click to view on black // canon rebel xsi, canon 18-55mm f/3.5, 18mm, f/10, 1/160th, iso 200 // buy print)

I was going through some old images from 2010 this weekend and while my processing methods back then horrify me, I found some RAW files that were actually pretty good shots and just needed to be re-edited with the way I do things now.

The above photograph was taken with my first DSLR…a Canon Rebel XSi, plus the kit lens that came with it. I merged two photos to get the panorama. It was such a stunning sight that afternoon. I don’t remember ever seeing it like that before or since. It must have rained a lot that winter, because the gold wildflowers were just everywhere. I had Lyla with me (around 1 and 1/2 at the time) and she was in awe of the flowers. It was also awesome to get some beautiful clouds to complete the scene.

 

 

The Milky Way over Sedona | YoloZona

Milky Way over Sedona
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, iso 5000, f/2.8, 30 sec // buy print)

An epic trip happened this past weekend…a meeting of four photographers who are great friends of mine, all coming here to Arizona, to help me take pictures of a wedding and then shoot the crap out of this state. We created a hashtag for the weekend…#YoloZona.

On Monday morning, after maybe 5 hours of sleep, we all woke up at 3am to shoot some stars out at Courthouse Butte in Sedona. Thanks to some great advice from our buddy in Kansas, Scotty Ackerman, we knew when the Milky Way would rise and roughly where it would be.

I don’t photograph stars very much and when I have, I’ve never seen anything this good. You’d think only 5 minutes south of a town like Sedona that the sky would be saturated from city lights, but thankfully Sedona is super dark at night because of lighting ordinances. Looking up with the naked eye you could clearly see the Milky Way stretching across the sky.

I edited this in Lightroom first for color and shadows, and then used a bit of luminosity masking techniques to make the sky pop a bit more. I’m super stoked with how this image turned out, my only slight regret is that it’s a 30 second exposure which is a tad too long. The stars are streaking just a bit on the edges of the frame. I was at ISO 5000 on the 5D3, which really didn’t give me much noise, so I might have gone higher and done a shorter, 20 second exposure.

Regardless…I love it anyways, and I’m thinking about getting this printed on metal. The stars are amazing and having lived in Phoenix my whole life…I rarely, if ever, see something like this. What an amazing night.

 

 

Morning on the Apache Trail

Saguaro Morning
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/5.0, iso 200, 1/800th // buy print)

Sometimes it’s hard to believe I live in a state with scenery like this. You take it for granted. I know I have at times.

This image was shot along the Apache Trail in the Superstition Mountains on the way to Roosevelt Lake in late December. I cannot recall a time I ever drove down this road. And it’s not a true road after awhile…the pavement ends and it’s dirt for the next 20+ miles. It was stunningly beautiful, especially on this morning. It was after an overnight winter storm and these clouds were being created “orographically” and ended up dropping snow in the higher elevations during our drive. We even got pelted with a bit of tiny hail further into the hills.

The light was fairly amazing as it poked out from all the clouds and there is nothing more beautiful than Saguaro cactus in the early morning hours.

A sunset on the Superstitions

The Red Supersitions - Lost Dutchman - Arizona

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(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, 1/4 sec // buy print)

The weather predictions for winter out here in Arizona called for a La Nina pattern…meaning not much rain and not very cold temperatures. So it was kind of a surprise when December rolled in with quite a few cold fronts that dropped snow on the mountains outside of Phoenix and also an inch of rain in town.

Now, of course, we’re well into our predicted La Nina winter, with temps hovering around 75-80 and no rain in sight. Which makes me sad, but at least I have December to look fondly on.

I took this photograph back on the 22nd along one of my favorite stretches of road in all of Arizona, and it’s only about 30 minutes from my house. If you’ve followed me for awhile, you’ve probably seen a few past images from this spot. This was probably my third night out in a row trying to capture a sunset over the mountains east of Phoenix, but nothing was panning out. My buddies Chris Frailey and Bryan Snider were out there those days as well and all of us were pondering the whereabouts of Arizona’s epic sunsets.

Finally this evening paid off. I was worried though…the clouds stretching from the mountains ahead were actually on the left side of the road about 15 minutes earlier. I was praying they wouldn’t move too far right before the color of the setting sun hit them.

This was also the first time out with the new (used) Canon 17-40 L. Love the lens, can’t wait to play with it a bit more.

 

The road through Red Rock Canyon

(enjoy a better view by clicking on the image and seeing it in a lightbox)

I’ve been to Las Vegas countless times for my day job. Even after picking up photography only about 18 months ago…I still have been here at least 5-6 different times since then. Never during any of those times did I make a trip out to Red Rock Canyon. It’s not always easy…like in the middle of winter when the sunset in Las Vegas is 4:30 in the afternoon. That’s just silly. Those of us working normal hours don’t have a chance.

But finally on this trip the sun wouldn’t set until 6:45 and I had a couple of hours to spend driving out there and looking around.

All the reports are true. It’s a beautiful place. And there were a lot of people being all “touristy” like me, plus exercise nuts riding their 10-speeds around the park’s looped road. The only thing I kept in the back of my brain was to try and find something unique that someone else might not see. I always, always try to do that even if I don’t necessarily accomplish it. If I saw people gathering and taking pictures at obvious spots, I tried to look to the opposite area.

I was hoping for a brilliant sunset because of all the high clouds, but they thickened up as the day wore on and it ended up not allowing for much color in the sky. Still, I liked the way they looked anyways and of course you know I can’t resist a solid road shot.  It’s not too easy to see here, but the road does a little “S” curve as it disappears and cuts through the hill where you see orange-looking crevice.

As I’m sure most people say after visiting this park…I only wish I had more time. If only we could freeze the hour before sunset just to wander around capturing all that beautiful light goodness.

My friend, Iron Man Brian Matiash, posted his own shot from Red Rock when he was here last, you must go check it out.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 200)