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Morning on the Apache Trail

Saguaro Morning
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/5.0, iso 200, 1/800th // buy print)

Sometimes it’s hard to believe I live in a state with scenery like this. You take it for granted. I know I have at times.

This image was shot along the Apache Trail in the Superstition Mountains on the way to Roosevelt Lake in late December. I cannot recall a time I ever drove down this road. And it’s not a true road after awhile…the pavement ends and it’s dirt for the next 20+ miles. It was stunningly beautiful, especially on this morning. It was after an overnight winter storm and these clouds were being created “orographically” and ended up dropping snow in the higher elevations during our drive. We even got pelted with a bit of tiny hail further into the hills.

The light was fairly amazing as it poked out from all the clouds and there is nothing more beautiful than Saguaro cactus in the early morning hours.

Horizon

Flames on the Horizon

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 2.8 l, 200mm, f/10, iso 100, 1 sec // buy print)

Back in December, we had quite a few winter storms blow through the state which left snow on the outlying desert peaks. On the evening I took this photo, I had met up with a bunch of photographer buddies, like Bryan Snider, Jon Stolarski, Chris Frailey and the awesome duo from Surefire Photos, Sean and Michelle Freeney.

We all were hoping for a gorgeous Four Peaks sunset. But the clouds were too low and never broke. So slowly everyone bailed to head home. As I was leaving though, the sky to the west kind of went supernova. I grabbed the 70-200 and went running through the desert trying to frame a perfect foreground against this epic sky. Nothing quite so beautiful as low, ground-hugging clouds and an Arizona sunset.

Processed this one using my VSCO Film presets and really loved the color I got from it.

Equilibrium

Equilibrium - Arizona Monsoon Lightning

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 125, f/5.6, 30 sec // buy print)

Please click to view on black!

One thing I try very, very hard to avoid is posting an image and then saying something like “OMG, this is my bestest, most favoritest photo I’ve ever taken in all the land!” I have many reasons for that, and if you want to know them, you can ask, but it’s just my general rule.

Yeah, gonna break that one today.

Before that though, it’s Wednesday and I haven’t done a Movie Title image in awhile, so here you go. Equilibrium. Christian Bale. It was really, really good. Check it out.

So this is my favorite lightning image of 2011. I didn’t sit down and look through all my photos and debate over which was best. This was always it. I knew when I saw it that it would be. And there are two reasons why.

(btw, those who bought my book have already seen this and thus know the story behind it already!)

First…the scene itself is incredibly unique. Two layers of clouds…a low one that is hugging the tops of mountains beyond the immediate horizon, and the upper one that is a boiling thunderstorm. Then you have a lighting strike running sideways between these two layers.  I didn’t shoot anything like it over the course of the last two summers and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to duplicate it. The only question I ask myself when I look at this is why I don’t have it printed and hanging in the house yet? I’m so bad at that.

The second and final reason has little to do with the actual picture. It was the work that led up to it. The effort. I had been in Tucson earlier that evening and as the storms were dying out, I decided to fly north and catch what was hitting Phoenix. But those storms were moving too fast. They were northeast of Phoenix by the time I hit town. For some reason though, I kept going. I blew through Phoenix and started up the Beeline Highway. I got almost all the way to Rye when I decided to turnaround. The weather were dying out, it was getting late and I felt like I failed after having just driven 180 miles with nothing to show for it.

But on the way back…a random storm popped up east of the highway. There was no reason for it, everything else had quieted down, but I saw it, I stopped and aimed my camera at the place I saw the flash.

This was the next shot that my camera captured.

It proved to me that what I was doing and the way I was doing it was valid. That my instincts were good and I was meant to do this.

And there was a lesson in that night for me. Simply put…when others stop, I should keep going. If I want a shot that no one else can get, then I need to be doing what no one else is doing.

It’s not easy…but you know what? I was all alone on that highway and the only one around to see this. And I’m so glad I was.

The Others

(Click image to see the forest for the trees)

Wow, talk about an old image. I think I even posted this one a long time ago, but I revisted it, converted it to B&W and still love it.

I shot this back in February of 2010 in the little town of Corvallis, Oregon when I was up there for work. In fact, stopping for this shot made me late to the contractor’s office. I honestly had no choice but to stop and walk around this mushy, wet park after a good soaking the night before.

The fog was everywhere and I only wish I could have driven around all morning shooting this stuff.

The title comes from the TV show Lost…because when I see the thick fog and the lights from the houses in the distance…I automatically think “Others.”

(exif: canon rebel xsi, canon 18-55mm f/3.5, 20mm, iso 800, 0.4sec)

Waves in the Desert

(click to view with a dark border and sized to fit your monitor/resolution)

I’m pretty tired right now. I get back in town tomorrow afternoon, but will be back here in Vegas all next week. Long days, focused work…draining. I’ll be a happier man once vacation gets here in mid-May. I can’t wait to see some of our family living in Memphis.

This is another photograph from last Sunday morning’s trip along the Apache Trail in search of those wonderful morning-after-a-storm pictures that I love. The scene has a lot of crazy elements to it, including a solo Saguaro cactus, low-lying foggy clouds hugging the valleys between mountain ranges, snow on the Four Peaks on the left horizon and some absolutely gorgeous clouds creating an ocean-like waves in the sky.

My love for this time of day is growing. Up before dark, headed out somewhere just waiting for the sun to rise…and just exploring the place you are at, looking for something unique and interesting. It’s always an adventure.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/16)

Foggy day in Corvallis, Oregon

Yesterday I picked up a roll of film I had lying around from a long time ago. Now it wasn’t a “photography” roll of film, I really have only been doing this hobby seriously for less than a year now, it was just some pictures my wife and I must have taken over 5 years ago. But I had no idea how long.

Well, when I got them back, I found out it was almost 10 years old. A very long time ago, we looked like kids, lived in our apartment and most of them were just silly photos. But it made me think about old shots that I hadn’t ever posted or forgot about in the hustle of processing photos.

These two photos are three bracketed, hand-held HDR shots from my business trip to Corvallis, Oregon. This was a very tough shot for me, because the city was essentially all around this place, even though you may not be able to tell by looking. I had to squat low enough so the hill blocked some houses, and just to the left is a very busy highway.

But I couldn’t pass up the cloudy skies and the low-flowing fog floating across the valley between the hills.

I can’t decide which I like better, the color or the black/white, so I’ll leave it up to you.

Oh, and I’m trying out a new watermark on my photos…something subdued, maybe more professional looking. Curious what people think of that as well.

Parting shots

I took a few more pictures on my last two days in Corvallis, Oregon. The first one below was of a very foggy morning and I just had to stop on my way into the office. I kind of like the lights in the background of this neighborhood park.

The ones below were shot up top this hill and a road that I just happened to drive up. The sight was breathtaking.

Particularly love the above shot…the tree at the end of the path completes it I think.

I’m fascinated with road shots of late.

Fog and trees, part 2

Here is the second part of some of the photos I took on Monday morning on my way from Portland to Corvallis. I had some time to spare before I was to meet the people I was visiting, so I took these in a few random places.

The final two are re-edits from Part 1 because Tyler wanted to see them without the greenish hint to them.

There is a deer there to the left of the pine tree on the right…

Beautiful farm with foggy hills behind

A closer look at the farm.

A shot I’ve always, always wanted to shoot…and some of my favorites that other people do. A lone tree on a hillside. Simple, minimalistic…beautiful.

Another road…beginning to realize my attraction for shooting them.

For Tyler

For Tyler

Fog and trees, part 1

This week I’m spending four days in Corvallis, Oregon to help in testing a new system out for one of our clients. Whilst I’m here, I’m trying to snap photos whenever I can, to take advantage of being in this beautiful, stunning and gorgeous Pacific Northwest.

Right now it’s just rain and fog…but the trees mixed with the fog was almost too much for me to handle. Hope you like the photos.

This last one above had two deer leisurely enjoying a little grass in the morning.