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Double

Double
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/10, iso 100, 15 sec // buy print)

Oh you know I love lightning. Here’s some more from that September 15th storm over Eloy that may have dropped a brief tornado.

Pinchers

Pinchers
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 100, f/10, 20 sec // buy print)

Wow, I had a spectacular show in front of me last night near Eloy! Tons of incredible bolts as the storm went right by me to the southwest. This was actually a severe thunderstorm that had rotation on it, strong inflow and my buddy Bryan Snider saw successive power flashes at one point. A train also had 35 cars derailed about 10 minutes before this image was captured. Glad I got out of the way in time to sit safely and take some shots.

The remnants of hurricane Odile will make their way into AZ over the next 72-hours, it’s going to be nuts! Will be chasing non-stop…you can watch me right here on my Live Chasing page.

Over the Top

Over the Top
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 100, f/5.0, 1/5th, lightning trigger // buy print)

Another gorgeous lightning strike from my time in the plains this past April. Yes, Over the Top is because of the movie about arm-wrestling…if this was only tomorrow, I could make it a “Movie Title Wednesday” which harkens back to something I used to do on the blog that a few of you may remember! I saw this and thought “Across the Sky”…the song that I only know because of that film haha.

This was captured north of Scott City, Kansas, with a Lightning Trigger IV, which I recently purchase. Loving it. Heading out to the plains tomorrow for FIVE days of chasing…cannot wait. Going to be absolutely amazing!

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!

 

Squiggly

Closer than it appears
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 400, f/8.0, 1/160th // buy print)

This was the best storm I saw all of 2013 in Arizona. At the very least it was in the top 2. The low shelf cloud that appeared out of the rain was an amazing surprise, but there was also blowing dust and crazy lightning strikes. You can see the other shots from this cell right here.

I captured this one using a Nero Lightning Trigger…although I wouldn’t recommend one. I was actually surprised I got this because I had a lot of bad luck with it, loose cables and eventually it just stopped working. I recently picked up a Lightning Trigger IV and am looking forward to that this spring and summer.

The fun part of this strike is that it’s VERY close. A lot closer than it looks. 17mm lens on a full frame sensor…and it almost takes up the entire field of view. Not only that, but in the picture below, you can see the orange spot where the lightning strike hits the tree line…and that tree line was about 1/4 mile away from me if that.

A fairly unusual looking bolt as well…almost looks like a squiggly line, not the jagged strikes you usually see.

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Over Booker, Texas

Over Booker
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, iso 800, f/8.0, 1/6 // buy print)

The Booker Supercell was undoubtedly ranked either 1 or 2 in my experiences as a storm chaser. My only wish is that we had gotten there a few moments earlier, but I’m pretty sure we saw the storm at it’s best right before it started dying out. Here’s a look at the storm as it was losing strength, finally passing over the town of Booker, Texas. Earlier in the chase we had been north of Booker, watching the storm move to the southeast…and then we raced south into town and blasted east to stay ahead.

This was one of the final moments of the storm before the sun was completely down and dark overtook us.

Through the shelf

Through the Shelf
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 21mm, iso 400, f/8, 1/160th // buy print)

Last Friday night I had a gallery show at Obliq Art in downtown Phoenix, and it sorta got my juices flowing again for some storm chasing. So I figured I’d start the new year off with another image from last summer.

This was an image from that epic storm in the Marana area north of Tucson. I posted one a few days after the storm that had a sorta “supercell” look to it…and it was one of my favorites from 2013.

But I love this one too, for two reasons. One…the lightning explodes from the main bulk of the storm and then pierces the shelf cloud below it. I love the two exit points. And finally…the semi-truck being there to give some scale to an otherwise large, boring farm field. Plus you also have some great blowing dust showing the powerful winds that were going on (which would eventually knock over my camera).

Ah…memories. Already getting excited for my annual plains trip at the end of May!

First view of the Booker, Texas supercell

First view of the Booker Supercell
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 500, f/8, 1/6th, blended image // buy print)

I’ve told the story of the Booker Supercell before quite a few times in various places, but it’s one I never get tired of telling. It was such a pinnacle moment for me in my life, or at least, as a storm chaser…that I wont soon forget the feeling of seeing it for the first time.

My buddy Andy and I had landed in Denver earlier than morning and drove towards the CO/KS/OK border meetups. I made the first mistake of going northeast instead of south when we got into Kansas and we ended up stuck in rain and hail for what felt like a very long time.

We finally knew we had no choice but to go back towards the storm and then go south to get out of the rain. We knew what we were doing but being out there with a rotating storm coming at you…well, it’s nerve-wracking for those of us from Arizona where storms don’t necessarily try to kill you.

Finally…we broke free of the rain and to our west…the supercell above was just sitting there over Texas. And yeah, we had no clue but in our race to get out of the rain we ended up in Texas. We’d find that out a bit later. I was driving so I couldn’t look too much, but I could see it anyways and was determined to find a good view. I saw a dirt road and took it, heading up a hill and then down the other side where we had a perfect downslope in front of us to see this storm.

I tried to maintain steadiness as I set up my cameras. No one else may understand this…but as a storm chaser, this was the thing I’d been chasing for four years. It was overwhelming. I was shaking. I knew that I needed to be methodical in taking my time setting up the timelapse. I couldn’t screw it up. Focus. Manual white balance. Clean memory card. All ready. And so I started the timelapse. And then I used the other camera on a tripod to take stills like the one above.

And after the timelapse was rolling and I had gotten shots with the other camera AND had tweeted out an iPhone photo saying “We did it”…I sat back and looked at the thing. And tears filled my eyes. I ran over to Andy and gave him a huge hug.

One of the most breathtaking sights I’ve ever beheld. And pictures don’t do it justice. I wish I could go back and live in that memory over and over.

If you missed the timelapse, you can view it here