Posts

Lightstorm

LIghtstorm
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/16, iso 100, 2.0 sec // buy print)

A few weeks ago I went on a last minute trip to the plains to chase for two days. The first day was marginal for eastern  Colorado and Kansas…it was the next day that I was stoked about. But as things usually work out…day one turned out to be the best. Not only did I get some good structure with some crazy shelf clouds and lightning, but I also captured this guy…probably one of my all-time favorite lightning strikes.

I’m kinda proud of this one. Sometimes you see lightning and you just stop, pull out the camera and hope you get something without thinking much about where you are. But for this one…I saw the sun setting and knew a line of storms were coming towards me. As I passed this field, I saw those trees out there and pulled off the shoulder. I backed up and backed up until they looked just like this. I set up the best composition I could think of and then prayed for lightning.

It was actually amazing. Even without the lightning, this scene was breathtaking. The sun was setting, and illuminating the falling rain…and the trees isolated by themselves made it feel like it some kind of picture or painting right there in real life.

After that…it was just a matter of hoping. I believe I was using my new Lightning Trigger IV for this and wow has that thing paid off already. I have two good ones from this spot, but this is definitely my favorite.

Windmills and Lightning

Windmills
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35 f/2.8 l, 23mm, iso 200, f/8.0, 1/20th, lightning trigger // buy print)

On a day with only a “see text” chance of severe storms, I decided to risk it hoping I’d at least see some lightning and perhaps some cool structure. I followed storms for hours, as they started in southeastern Colorado and slowly moved to the northeast into Kansas.

The main cluster I first encountered and stuck with, ended up being the storms of the day in our neck of the woods. After awhile a shelf cloud appeared, lightning started getting more intense and the fun started. This is a photo east of Leoti, Kansas…I stopped here so I could timelapse it moving by with windmills in the frame, and with the other camera I started testing my new Lightning Trigger. I was stoked to look back later and saw I captured a bolt. I have to say, that trigger is worth every penny.

Lots more to come from my trip!

In the field

In the Field
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 100, f/16, 0.5 sec, Lightning Trigger // buy print)

Earlier this week I decided out of nowhere to fly out to the plains to chase me some storms for two days. I didn’t even make the final decision until 12:45am on Tuesday, which was 5.5 hours before my flight left. But I’m glad I went. This was taken yesterday north of Blair, Oklahoma. I recently picked up The Lightning Trigger after the Nero one failed me miserably last year (hat tip to Ruth Montgomery for showing me how good this new one is), and luckily it was just in time for this trip.

I caught all kinds of strikes, but this one was the most crazy. The bolts were landing all around me, so I quickly set up the camera and jumped back into the car. I didn’t even see this strike because I was looking at radar or something, but I definitely saw a huge flash and the crack of thunder was amazing. You can see where it lands, which I guess was about 1/4 mile away or less. Super close, it was pretty freaky to have strikes everywhere. What a blast!

Lots more to come from this trip…photos and some cool time-lapses!

 

The Watcher

The Watcher
(please click to view on black // buy print)

I rarely, if ever, post photos from years ago. I tend to hate my processing even as recent as 2012. I feel like I’ve really grown into a more polished look (with lots of room yet to grow), so looking back is rough.

But…when an image is one I love enough, I may actually go back and re-edit the thing. And that is the case here. I may have posted this before, but this time it’s been processed using my staple of luminosity masking.

The story behind this photograph, which I just realized a few days ago…is that it’s July 4th, 2011, which was just a day before the big historic haboob hit on July 5th. In many interviews I’ve done since then, people always ask “why was that dust storm so massive?” And I usually say something like “Well, it was early in the season, we hadn’t had a good dust storm yet, or even a good storm…drought…” etc.

But in reality…this was the scene the day before just south of Phoenix along Riggs Road. So we’d already had a dust storm prior to the big one. This one turned out to be fairly weak after a bit, but it’s still a nice wall of dust. Makes the next day seem even more intense because the storms were so strong that they kicked up even more dust after this one rolled through.

I love this image because of the dead tree, the dust wall and that epic, dying monsoon thunderstorm. It also marked one of the first timelapses I did, but I’m so embarrassed by the mistakes I made, I’ll never post it. Suffice to say…I sincerely wish I had done that one correctly, because this was a beautiful scene. But I think it was the beginning of my love for capturing the motion of dust storms.

A strike over Eloy

Lightning over Eloy
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2 l, f/10, iso 200, 8 sec // buy print)

I had a lot of luck with lightning last summer…here’s another one from a crazy early night in July when this storm rained down bolts for well over an hour in the general vicinity of Eloy and Casa Grande.

 

Wall of dust

Wall
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 100, 1/640th // buy print)

A lost (or unposted) image from back in July of 2012. This was a crazy good dust storm resulting in a couple of nice timelapses for me personally. You can see one here. I was capturing that while I took this photo.

Was an uber dense storm…once it hit, the freeway behind me was completely empty and it felt like I was in some post-apocalyptic world for a few minutes.

Can’t wait for summer.

 

Electricity over Sierra Vista

LIghtning over Sierra Vista
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L, 70mm, iso 160, f/8, 13 sec // buy print)

This was taken on the night before I left for Africa last summer. I was determined to get as as many storm images as possible since I was going to be gone for 10 days, and so that goal compelled me to chase all the way down to Sierra Vista on this night.

I have to say, it was worth it. This southern Arizona town was getting blasted with lightning bolts and I had a nice perch just north of town along highway 82. This particular storm did have some interesting looks to it, even at one time having supercell appearance. Definitely love this shot…mean looking storm and two cloud-piercing bolts.

Cold Drinks

Cold Drinks
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/5.6, 1/320th // buy print)

My buddy Matt Granz posted a picture from this same spot a few days ago on Facebook, which is because we were actually together that day chasing the monsoon! He made me realize I never posted the image I took, so I thought I’d do that today. This was taken just north of Tucson off the freeway along Red Rock Road. I am not even sure it’s still standing…I feel like the last few times I drove past this spot the windmill looked a lot worse or I didn’t even see it.

We were here just before sunset, which you can see from the gorgeous light reflecting off the windmill and little silo/tanks on the left. A beautiful monsoon evening, these storms moved in and dropped lightning a little bit after this was taken.

Awesome hanging with Matt on this night, he’s such an amazing guy, check out his work when you get a chance!

A sliding rock out on Race Track Playa

Impact
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 50, 1/6th, f/16 // buy print)

The hard part about doing brief, 2-3 day trips to awesome places, is wishing you had more time. When we arrived at Race Track Playa, it was just over an hour until sunset. In reality, it would have been nice to be there many, many hours earlier to scout spots and looks for the perfect compositions.

Race Track Playa is huge. You start walking from the car, you go 15-20 minutes, and you realize you’ve barely crossed 1/4 of the lake. And the good stuff is waaaay in the distance. The size of the lake bed is deceiving.

I set up a timelapse to run for sunset, which makes it kind of hard to wander away and shoot other things. You really want to make sure that timelapse is going well. Still, I ended up making my way to this giant-ish rock sitting out on the damp part of the playa. I LOVED this spot. The rock itself was bigger than most I saw out there, and the trail behind it almost made it appear to be the crash site of a meteor. Granted, a very soft landing!

The sunset wasn’t spectacular, so I opted for black and white here. I don’t see many monochrome shots from Race Track, but I think this kind of alien landscape really shines when it’s devoid of color.

A salty sunset from Death Valley

A salty sunset
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, 1.6 sec (blend) // buy print)

I’d been dying to go to Death Valley for awhile now. And when I finally got the chance, it was more amazing than I thought it would be. I only wish I had more time to explore. On our trip I kept comparing this place to an amusement park. You’d drive along and there were salt flats. Further the salt flats were taller and jagged, almost like frozen waves. And then there were dunes. And then rocks that slide. And a giant volcanic crater. And Star Wars had parts filmed there.

I mean…it was endless. And we only had two days. So we did what we could.

And by we, I mean my buddy Rick Young and Chris Frailey. Super thankful to have these guys along, we had an awesome time!

The above photo was taken somewhat near Badwater Basin. We have a photographer named Rick to thank for leading us to this spot. We met him the night before at Race Track Playa and he was such an amazing guy…he gave us advice on the cold, where to shoot and then he pointed us in the right direction for the salt flats. We’d have frozen our buns off that first night if he hadn’t warned us ahead of time. And we STILL were friggin’ cold!

We got lucky to have a beautiful sunset for the salt flats, despite my buddy Chris Frailey’s worry that it would be a bust like the night before. These flats were pretty crazy…you honestly feel like you are walking on a frozen landscape, but it’s just crispy salty earth. The patterns they form are incredible and amazing.

I shot a bunch of timelapse sequences during this trip, so I’ll have a short movie out hopefully soon.