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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.

October Monsoon Storm Photos: Part 1

Two weeks ago Arizona was lambasted with severe weather over the course of 2-3 days. Heavy rains, hail, dented cars, tornadoes, damage to homes and property. None of that happened to me, but I certainly enjoyed chasing it all!

The first two photos are from the 4th of October where we just had some heavy rains, nothing too horrible. But after that the fun really began.

I mentioned this before on another post, but I love weather photos in general and sometimes I just like to remember a scene regardless of where I was standing or what kind of crappy composition I had going on. I process them afterwards to highlight the clouds and storminess, but for the most part, I don’t share these with intentions of selling them. Sure, if you want to buy one PLEASE do, but otherwise, these are all for fun (even if 1-2 might make it on my coming soon photobook).

The next few below were taken on October 5th along Interstate 8 between Gila Bend and Casa Grande. Some massive storms, some of them supercell in nature, were raining heck down on the freeway and I raced there to capture some of the madness.

The next few below look like wall clouds from a supercell and they MAY or MAY NOT have been that…I was so consumed at the time with my lightning trigger I totally forgot to look for rotation. That’s how much of an Arizona boy I am…pathetic if you ask me.

I LOVE these shots…menacing, dark, spooky…and the third one actually has a lightning strike in it captured with the trigger!

This next one was heading back towards Maricopa…a spectacular hail/rain storm.

This one below is just east of Queen Creek and I-10.

The last two are along highway 587 and I shot them with my buddy Bryan, the only person I know who will actually join me stormchasing and be as excited as I am.

The structure on this last one was awesome. A slight tint of blue inside that storm indicating hail.

Arizona monsoon lightning photos from August 28th

My daughter sat in her little car seat, enjoying Toy Story and staying safely away from any lightning or the bazillion numbers of mosquitos I encountered last night out in the Arizona desert. Probably was a little too close to a couple of canals out there, but at times it almost felt like a swarm of bugs attacking me. I definitely have more than five itchy bites on me today.

The above lightning strike was my favorite of the night. A tip to lightning photos out there (not that any of you would do this), if your car is running because you are keeping the AC on for your little girl, go ahead and do NOT put the tripod on your trunk…just use the ground. Subtle vibrations from the engine running caused a few of my shots to be a bit unsharp and I can’t tell you how bummed I was about that.

There is another one below I like that has the strike landing behind a cactus which created a beautiful silhouette.

While I was out, I met a guy who was trying his hand at lightning photography and while I stood there, I realized his own silhouette sitting on top of his SUV was kind of cool against the clouds over the city. Amazingly, I caught a shot of a lightning strike AND him, so I walked over, introduced myself and emailed him the photos today.

The last one is just him sitting there…watching. I just love it.

Hope you enjoy these!

Revisiting the Grand Falls in northern Arizona

Some of you may remember a photo or two I posted from my trip to Grand Falls in May…I posted a few shots of it…one here and one here.  I think I processed this one as a black and white first and posted it in a few  random places, like Flickr and JPG Mag. But I was looking back through my photos the other day and realized I’d always wanted to see this one as an HDR and just forgot about it.

I love the scope and details that you can see in the shot. Clicking on the photos for the larger version takes away some of the sharpness, but the details are still there.

What’s interesting about the falls is all the junk that is collected in the lower left portion of the photo. Most of what you can see are from trees and dead foliage captured along the way, but there are definitely some “man-made” objects down there as well.

This is definitely a place I plan on revisiting next March, hopefully after a nice, snowy season for the high country. The flow over the Falls when it’s peak is pretty amazing from what I’ve seen in photos. I need to see that in person.

Sunsets, Sunflowers and Cactus

After bailing on the storms, I saw a giant monolith of a mountain jutting from the land way east of Florence. I knew I couldn’t get there, so I tried to get as close as I could…so I took off down a dirt road named East Price. Well, I never got to the mountains as the sun just set too quickly, but it didn’t stop me from pulling the car over on a few occasions and lining up a couple of shots.

A typical Arizona summer sunset right here, with debris clouds from the monsoons creating some spectacular lighting. The special part of this shot I think was the sunflowers in the foreground with the cactus and sky. Interesting all the wild sunflowers growing all over the deserts.

The dark line across the shot are some train tracks that appeared to be too old to carry a train until one came by just before this shot was taken.

And on another note, this earned me an Approver’s Choice over on Wunderground, so very awesome!