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The Growler

Probably my favorite photo from spending 14 days on the plains in the spring of 2015. This intense, nasty looking supercell was approaching Lamar, Colorado with a tornado warning and huge hail. This was an image I didn't even edit or remember I had taken until well into the summer. What a surprise to stumble upon it.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, iso 100, 16mm, f/5, 1/50th // buy print)

Sometimes an image is so important to you, so special, that you almost never want to share it. Fear maybe? That you will be the only one who loves it? Or once you share it, the rest of your current work waiting for the light of day just pales in comparison?

For me, it’s both. And maybe some other, more personal reasons. I never want to tell people how to feel about my photos. I want them to discover it on their own. So I rarely try to build up an image as one of my best or favorites.

But this one. This one. I didn’t even know I had it for awhile. It didn’t jump out at me at first because it was a quick snap from the road as we stopped for a second to evaluate things. I knew I took it for a reason, but on my computer, the RAW file was flat. One day late this summer, I saw it again and stared at it and was like…how did I miss this??

These are the images I want to capture. A storm’s raw emotion. It’s anger. It’s beauty. The textures, the motion, the crazy colors…and the simple landscape.

This is why I love what I do. I hope you enjoy this one. It’s the best thing I’ve done this year.

(South of Lamar, Colorado, May 24th, 2015)

PS. I will be doing a screencast soon on how I edited this one, if you subscribe to my newsletter, you will get notified when it’s available. Do that right here.

Angry

Angry
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 1/6th sec // buy print)

April 16th turned out pretty amazing across the Texas Panhandle…such a long, six-hour chase and so many views of different supercells. This was the one that produced a tornado earlier near Groom. At this point the radar velocity was intense right up ahead along this road. This was as close as I wanted to get because of the rain and the intensity of the rotation. You can see how low the clouds are in there, how angry this storm looks. The blue color in the clouds is hail.

More to come from this day!

Sunrise at Sunset

Sunrise from Sunset
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, f/8, 1/500th, iso 100, graduated filter // buy print)

On the first day of our road trip up north a few weeks ago, we stopped at Sunset Point to wander out in the golden fields that are all over up there on the plateau. It was dark and serene, other than the passing cars on Interstate 17. We found some spots in the dark, like with this cactus…almost out of place with all the tall grass around it.

Sunrise was perfect…the light just peeking over the horizon lit up all the grass and the tippy points of the cactus…it was stunning.

A great omen for our trip…more to come, including a time-lapse film, a documentary by Jay Worsley and more images from yours truly!

On Approach

Approaching
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 100, f/5, 1/200th, 8-image stitch // buy print)

After seeing that amazing supercell near Booker, Texas…it’s tough to imagine anything looking more ominous. But this storm was close. This is a big, 8-image panoramic, so things look further away than they actually were. The wall cloud was rotating violently, and we stood there in awe of what we were seeing. You can see in the darker area of the wall cloud how low the base is to the ground. Incredible.

This storm was marching on Denver International Airport and while a few tornadoes were reported, there was no real evidence of any on this day. But this was the second best wall cloud I’ve ever seen.

Can’t wait to get back out on the plains next spring!

Approaching

Approaching
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8, 16mm, iso 100, f/5, 1/100th, handheld 7-image stitch // buy print)

Wow, yesterday was amazing…with this being the grande finale. An approaching severe thunderstorm with a leading shelf cloud edge. These use to be a rare sight in Arizona it seems like, but this monsoon has been completely insane. Beautiful structure and amazing storms. This looks like a plains-like supercell despite not really having a rotating mesocyclone.

This was south of Glendale road just west of the 101 in the west valley. I time-lapsed this beast from around this point until the blowing dust (you can see some around the base) hit me. You’ll be able to see it at the end of the year unless I get antsy to post it sooner.

A Colorado sunset

A Colorado Sunset
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8, 16mm, iso 100, f/8, 1/50th // buy print)

Sometimes you do all you can to get in front of epic supercells for those amazing structure and lightning photos…only to find out that a retreating cluster of storms at sunset can be equally as beautiful.

This was from last week on Interstate 70 on Colorado’s eastern border. We were chasing these storms in hopes of getting to the other side for some lightning imagery, when we realized we just had to stop for a few minutes. My dash Sony Handycam, that does my live stream feed, was bringing out some contrast that we couldn’t see with the naked eye too well.

And when I walked out and took a shot with my 5D3…wow, it really popped. It was almost like the camera could pick out the separation between two storms right there in the middle of the road. More than I could see with my own eyes.

Glad we stopped.

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.

Energize

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

I definitely have a nerdy side and when I got done editing this image, I could only think of one thing:

“Beam me up, Scotty.”

Such a skinny rain shaft and then to get a lightning strike travel right down the middle was pretty awesome. This was one of my favorite storms from this past summer, mainly because of the timing of capturing it just as the sun went down. Not totally dark yet, but enough light to add some great color and illuminate the landscape.

The purple color here was pretty cool. I’m assuming it was just the lightning, but the sun was also setting and it’s possible it was hitting the top of the cloud and somehow aided in the color. Love how purple the lightning bolts are themselves.

Lightning near Camp Verde

Lightning near Camp Verde
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, iso 100, 23mm, f/18, 6 secs // buy print)

I arrived back home from Africa Sunday morning and I waited until Tuesday to get back out chasing storms again. I ran up to Grand Falls to meet my buddy Dee in hopes of catching a flash flood, but it was already running like crazy, so we headed back south to catch up with a line of outflow heading southwest off the Mogollon Rim.

I kept telling Lyla that we needed these storms to hang around until right around 7:45 when the sun would be down so we could shoot some lightning, something she LOVES…and sure enough, as we got south of Camp Verde, a beautiful cell was still firing up and we pulled off at one of my favorite spots along Interstate 17. We captured this around 7:57pm.

These were slow moving storms, so the rain shaft just sat there forever and slowly moved to the south…and while it wasn’t going nuts with lightning, the ones that did fire were beautiful.

Felt good to get right back into the mix last night. Going to be a busy week.