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Drift

An incredibly cooll scene out at the Four Peaks on July 1st, 2016. Strong winds push a dumping hail core way out ahead of the updraft and on top of the Four Peaks Mountain Range.

One of the coolest things I’ve seen during the monsoon in Arizona. The tower on the left was an incredible updraft that I got to see explode upwards, and then the hail started falling…but strong winds took the downdraft and pushed it southeastward over the Four Peaks. Not sure I’ve seen anything like that…Tim Marshall called it a “hail drift”, which sounds about right 🙂 I got the entire genesis of it on time-lapse too, so that will mostly undoubtedly make the final edit of Monsoon III, whenever that comes out!

Killer chase yesterday, ending on Interstate 8 with a fantastic lightning show. Today I switch gears to shoot an intimate wedding in the Red Rocks of Sedona!

Forked

A lightning bolt lands in the Four Peaks Wilderness area northeast of Phoenix, seeming to fork into two directions at the last minute as it strikes the side of a mountain.

A cakewalk chase yesterday…spent over 90 minutes at this spot just off the Beeline Highway where it intersects with Bush Highway. A storm to my north built up and died, then storms to our east went up and the lightning display after sunset was gorgeous. Here’s one of my favorites…always love being able to see where a strike hits the ground, it adds so much more dimension to a photo.

Today begins a hectic few weeks of July for me, as two film companies will be out attempting to capture dust storms. One crew from Japan, one from England. I’m a consulting on both projects, although I’ll also be filmed as part of the one from Japan. Stoked to be a part of them, but it’s gonna be crazy. Doing location scouting today and tomorrow. Today may actually give us a dust storm if things pan out!

Obscured | Four Peaks Sunset

Obscured
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200mm f/2.8 is l, 75mm, iso 100, f/20, 1/5 // buy print)

It’s so very rare that I go back to images more than a year ago. Usually I think anything that far back must suck anyways, so what’s the point? But I always loved this day out in the Four Peaks wilderness area and I never did a whole lot with this image. So yesterday I was playing around with it and re-processed it using luminosity masking that’s been my main tool of late.

I captured this on December 14th, 2011. It was such an amazing evening. Stunning light, low clouds, beautiful colors. What I like about this image is that most photos of the Four Peaks…show the actual four peaks. Here…it’s implied that they are there, but you don’t see them.

Haven’t been out to the Four Peaks this year at all…been unfavorable circumstances for stormy, snowy weather like this. Hoping for a few more chances before the winter storms go away.

 

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn - Four Peaks Sun Rays

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 f/2.8 is l, 200mm, iso 400, f/8.0, 1/1000 // buy print)

Yes, it’s Movie Title Wednesday and yes, I’m using a Twilight film! You can blame my buddy Chris DeAngelis for pointing me in the direction of this title. We also came up with Dumb and Dumber, but that was for an entirely different reason that I’m sure Chris would want me to keep close to the vest (insert LOLLING here).

Breaking Dawn. Ugh. I usually do this series to recommend movies, but with apologies to my wife…ugh. I watched it because my wife is hooked on the series (even if she admits its not very good) and also because I pretty much love all things related to vampires and werewolves. But these movies are hard to watch. Our favorite scene in this one is where the wolves talk to each other in their heads. It was probably one of the most cringe-inducing moments I’ve ever had watching a movie.

I will say this though…the title is perfect for this photo! Last Thursday I was somehow home early from my trip to Oregon, and thus was able to enjoy a day of stormy weather in and around Phoenix. I grabbed my gear and my daughter, and we just drove around having fun, seeing whatever we saw. This scene right here was kind of amazing. Mostly because it lasted for probably 30 minutes or so. It’s rare to see sun rays like that for an extended amount of time. I saw them and still had 15 minutes to get to the spot I was hoping to shoot them from. Luckily, they were still going strong.

These are the Four Peaks that you’ve seen me photograph a lot I’m sure, but I’ve never taken a photo of them from so far away.

And that’s a bird flying in the middle of the frame, not a dust spot 🙂

Sunset out at Four Peaks

(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/22, blended brackets // buy print)

Before heading out last Monday to try for a sunset out on Four Peaks after a big winter storm blew through, I hadn’t shot anything “landscapey” for over a month. Was a long drought and it felt good to be out there again.

So like I said, a huge storm hit Arizona this past Sunday and Monday, leaving the high country blanketed in snow. Everyone in the world knew Four Peaks would be included in that, and I believe everyone in the world was out there on Monday evening. Not only a few photographers I know, but a whole herd of others. Never seen it quite like that before.

I tried to separate myself from all of them by driving further than I ever had before, to get someplace new and different. My main objective was to find a spot where a cactus would still be catching that last bit of sunlight while at the same time capturing some color in the sky.

The sunset we all wanted didn’t exactly show up, but the clouds here were worth the trip for me. And there was still a bit of color in them as well.

Prickly Pear

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35 2.8, 17mm, f/20, iso 100, 0.5 sec // buy print)

Back in mid-December we had some great cold fronts move through the state leaving snow on the mountains surrounding Phoenix. I must have been out in the Four Peaks and Superstition Mountains area every other night for a week. Trying to capture a sunset…trying to get the snow on the hills.

This was probably one of the more gorgeous sunsets of 2011 that my camera saw. You can see the snowy Four Peaks off on the right horizon, shrouded by clouds.

The foreground is filled with Prickly Pear cacti…and you can see a few of the “leaves” have captured the last rays of the setting sun. In fact, it was kind of a hard shot to get because my own shadow kept getting in the way.

Within about 45 seconds, the light was completely gone. I took this shot right after this other one I posted awhile ago with the giant Saguaro.  An amazing sky that evening.

Before Sunset

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/20, 1/5 // buy print)

Yesterday afternoon I had a  conference call that was scheduled to run to 5:30. I was praying it got over early, because the snow on the Four Peaks was amazing and I knew I had to get out there again for sunset.

As luck would have it, the call ended at 4pm and I was bolting for the door. Camera gear, Lyla…her stuff, her DVD player…all of it. We both flew up the Beeline Highway to meet up with my fellow photogs Chris Frailey and Bryan Snider (see Bryan’s pics from last night right here!). I ran into them on Four Peaks Road, but as we usually try to do when we meet up…we went our own ways so that we all don’t end up with the same images.

I had a feeling these low hanging clouds would just ignite with color when the light hit them right, and sure enough…it was one of those absolutely stunning Arizona sunsets. I was in the truck looking for a great spot when I saw this majestic Saguaro still being hit with light atop this hill. You can even see the spikey yucca on the right getting a bit of light too as the sun was almost level with the hill I was standing on.

And if you can’t immediately see them, the Four Peaks sit on the right horizon, covered in clouds and snow.

I love this area of Arizona and I never get sick of the snowy Peaks. I could shoot them everyday.

 

An evening out at Four Peaks

The last six weeks have been filled with nothing but photoshoots, which has been absolutely amazing and huge for me. I’m so excited about where things are headed .

But it also left little time for me to get out of the house to shoot other things. And I missed that. So on Monday when there were reports of snow on the outlying deserts, I packed up the car, including my daughter, and made a beeline for…well, the Beeline Highway. And the Four Peaks area.

The sky was magnificent of course, the Peaks had snow, the desert was gorgeous and the air was a chilly 40 degrees. It was awesome to just be out in nature again after the six week hiatus.

So here are some shots from the evening. You will likely notice a different feel to these. Recently for my portrait/wedding work, I’ve switched my processing over to a toolset called VSCO Film. I used a few of their presets and combined them with my own tweaks to come up with something I just love. It’s been fantastic for all the photoshoots, I absolutely dig how my images are looking these days.

But I wanted to try that same kind of film style on these desert images. And I love it. Truly. It’s actually created a debate in my head on how I want to do this kind of thing going forward.

Regardless, I hope you enjoy them. I used three lenses for these shots below…the Tammy 17-35 2.8, Canon 35 1.4 and Canon 70-200 2.8.

(click to view these on black if you want, and roll through the slideshow)

The next two were taken using the 35mm 1.4 wide open…and I friggin’ love the subtle depth of field.

Had to include this shot of my daughter…bundled up, playing A-Breaker on the iPhone!

Four Peaks

Evening at Four Peaks

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 2.8 is l, 115mm, f/14, iso 100, 0.5 sec // buy print)

It’s been awhile since I posted a landscape or weather photo on the blog, and even longer since I’ve actually been out shooting that stuff.

But an early winter storm woke me up a bit and the reports of snow on the outlying areas of town Monday morning kicked me into gear. I picked up Lyla from the sitter just after 3pm and we made our way towards Horseshoe Lake, where I had seen snow earlier on the news. But it seemed to have mostly melted by the time we made it up to Scottsdale. At the same time, I could see the Four Peaks standing mightily, covered in snow…so we braved rush hour traffic to get all the way to the Beeline Highway.

There were some incredible clouds around before sunset, but sadly they moved off too quickly for me to get into this composition. But we were still left with those gorgeous peaks, a nice dusting of snow and of course, those stoic saguaro cacti.

I’m vowing to drive up to the top of those peaks the next time we get a good winter storm. Never been there, but I’ve heard it’s awesome.

Snow on the Four Peaks

Snow on the Four Peaks Arizona

Back on the very last day of December, I posted a picture of the Four Peaks mountain range fresh after a snow storm hit them. You can see that one below. I didn’t process the one above for awhile after that, but eventually got around to working on it. I’m glad I did because it ended up being kind of cool for me to really see how fast things can change when viewing a landscape.

The top photo occurred exactly 7 minutes and 42 seconds after the one below. I moved spots between the two captures…going lower I believe for the top one.

It’s kind of amazing to see this back on frames instead of what you saw with your eyes. While I  totally witnessed this and knew what was happening…it’s hard to top a before and after pair of images.

Oh, and if I haven’t said it before…man I love Arizona.

(top – exif: canon rebel xsi, canon 50mm 1.4, f/14, iso 100) (bottom – exif: canon rebel xsi, canon 50mm 1.4, f/16, iso 100)

Snow on the Four Peaks Arizona