Posts

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.

 

 

Snowy December Morning

Snowy December Morning

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 29mm, iso 100, f/8, 1/50th // buy print)

Haven’t had a ton of time in December to just go for drives on stormy days, so it was awesome to end the year with a nice road trip with the kiddies. I have to say, our little almost-11-month-old Eli joined Lyla and myself for the first time ever and he rocked. Never cried, just had an awesome time and I couldn’t be happier for what that hopefully means in the coming years!

This is a shot of the Superstition Mountains with some snow you can see in the higher elevations. One of my favorite spots in Arizona. A gorgeous, cloudy morning…was well worth getting up at 5:45 and dragging the kids with me.

The Superstitions just before dawn

(click to see an extra larger than normal version to really fill your screen)

Back in April we had some good rain on the 9th, so the morning of the 10th I planned to get up waaaaay early and head out to the Superstition Mountains to shoot a beautiful sunrise with gorgeous clouds, cactus and all kinds of juicy stuff.  I was also meeting by buddy Ken Peterson out here and we’d hit the Apache Trail together.

You can imagine the slight disappointment you get when you are praying for awesome clouds in the morning and this is what you see above.

As is always the case, however…nature turns your sour lemons into lemonade by giving you something unexpected and just as beautiful. I sat at my favorite spot along Lost Dutchman Road waiting to meet Ken. And so I sat there watching the sky behind this mountain turn beautiful shades of morning colors. Normally I hate skies without clouds, but I loved all the solid colors here…dark silhouette with these gradient shades of purple and orange.

Plus you have Venus up there (at least I’m pretty sure it was Venus) adding just a hint of something extra.

For those that live in Phoenix, even a silhouette of these mountains is probably easily recognized by most people. I love that about some places…you can just see an outline or a shadow of something and know it instantly because you live there. It’s makes it something special.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 35mm, f/10, iso 100, 5 sec)

Then the morning comes

Superstition Morning Sunrise Cactus Saguaro Arizona Desert

(Website note: My images are now clickable and displayed in a handy-dandy lightbox. Please check it out, let me know what you think!)

When you are advancing in your career or just going down the path of life, people tell you never to look back…just worry about what’s ahead. What’s coming. No need to relish on mistakes or even past victories…it’s all about the future.

I think photography may be the one place where that advice is completely wrong. I wont even get into the benefits (for me) of seeing where I’ve come from and how I’ve changed, but mainly want to stick to the physical implications of “looking back.”

There is a trail in the middle of the photo above. I ran up it quickly to get in place for the sunrise (in 34 degree weather…brrrr for this desert rat) because there was a nice cactus that you can see up aways AND it had a nice height to overlook the entire area. I spent some time there, I loitered, I got some shots…but then it was time to go because I wanted to look for some new scenes.

As I was leaving down the path, I remembered how often it’s paid dividends in the past…so I turned around. Obviously we all have our own ideas of good composition, but to me this was the one image I would end up taking away from stopping at this location.

Never forget the value of turning around or looking back when shooting sunrises, storms or landscapes.

I don’t know how to describe the mornings here in Arizona…especially the open deserts. I hope this image conveys it to you. As a matter of fact…and it may seem funny considering all the time I spend shooting out there…but this shot and this particular morning kind of restored or rebirthed my love for photography. Not that it had really gone anywhere…but it had been awhile since I’d been out in the middle of the cactus and rocks…shooting the still morning without a soul in sight.

Kind of like coming back to that one book or movie you never get tired of watching. It feels like home.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso100)

One of my favorite spots: Lost Dutchman Road

This scene may not be a stranger to some of you. It most definitely isn’t for me. Since I’ve started seriously chasing storms earlier this year, I’ve probably taken photographs from this spot 10 times? I can’t help it. The road and cliffs stay the same, but the light, the shadows and the clouds always change.

I’ll probably throw something together someday with all the different views of this place over the course of a year.

I photographed this last Monday while out with my daughter. She was in her car seat, watching Toy Story on the DVD player and I was setting up in the middle of the road.  I can’t wait for the day she can go out there with me and appreciate the view from this spot. I hope she enjoys it as much as I do.

This is a six-bracket exposure using my trusty Tamron 17-35mm 2.8, Photomatix, CS5 and other goodies.

The Flat Iron Cliffs after the storm

The credit for this photo goes entirely to my buddy Bryan Cox. If it wasn’t for his insistence that I turn the car around, I’d never have captured it. Yes, as we were driving by, I saw the light, I commented to Bryan how amazing it looked, but we were trying to catch some storms and I just didn’t think we had the time to stop, even for a few minutes.

Finally Bryan says something like, “I’m gonna have to put my foot down here…turn the car around.

This was last Wednesday…Bryan decided to tag along with me as a bunch of storms were rolling into town and the goal was to just be out all afternoon chasing, taking photos and then finishing the day with some nighttime lightning photography. I’m so glad Bryan joined me…we had a blast and saw some fun stuff.

It takes a good friend to be able to tell you to turn the car around like that, and I totally appreciated it.

So this shot contains one of my favorite places in Arizona…the Flat Iron Cliffs of the Lost Dutchman State Park in the Superstition Mountains, seen beyond a small field of Joshua Trees. I almost feel I take too many shots of it because those cliffs are such a gorgeous backdrop to any kind of weather or desert cactus shot, that you can spend an eternity photographing around there.

A big storm had just blown through, so the skies were a smooth, grayish-blue color, but the sun still shined from the west and the light playing off the cliffs was absolutely amazing.

This is an HDR from 6-bracketed tripod shots, tonemapped in Photomatix, polished off in CS5.