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The Fields

Someday I may get through the queue of images I have yet to edit from the years chasing storms, but that’s doubtful 😂

Here’s a new shot from June 12th, 2017 after a rough day chasing, missing tornadoes and epic structure…I found redemption near sunset in western Nebraska close to the town of Minatare. This supercell was electric and put out a sick ton of bolts. I’d keep chasing this guy through Alliance and well into the Sandhills until almost midnight.

Doom

Not gonna lie, and I’ve said it before probably, but July 9th was definitely the best day ever chasing haboobs 😂

This was southwest of Gila Bend aways, eight-image panoramic with the Sony A7R3 and Sigma Art 14-24. Massive, dense haboob riding underneath a pretty nifty shelf cloud.

That wall of dust originated southwest of Phoenix and ended up rolling into California and Mexico after dark…what an amazing day.

Salome Strike

Yesterday my workshop ended and since some of the models were calling for huge storms in Tucson to kick out a dust storm up the 10 in the afternoon, I hit up Benson for a bit to shoot around, but it quickly became apparent the dust storm wasn’t gonna happen until possibly way late.

So I raced to Phoenix (anxious to be home after six days anyway), caught the storms rolling into town up on the 101/64th street, hung out with storm pals Jerrod Harris, John Moore and some others! Lightning wasn’t happening though, so I moved onto the west side of town, caught a nice bolt producer over the White Tanks and then took a chance further west on Salome Highway where I caught this majestic beast.

The storm was kicking out some good strikes all around me, but there wasn’t anywhere I could shoot out of the rain…so I did something I usually hate, which is to just be patient and wait for the rain to pass 😂

The moment the rain stopped, I jumped out, setup up tthe Sony at 14mm and jumped back in the truck. A huge flash happened and I swear the bolt appeared to be right in front of me, but it turned out just to be the one in the left edge of this frame. So I jumped back out of the truck cursing because I missed it…and then saw the photo and was like…oh okay…that’ll do donkey…that’ll do 🙂

A huge positive or clear air CG…looks like it landed just across the freeway, a couple hundred feet away or so. It froze the profile of a passing truck as well, almost looking like it was near hitting it. Love the highway itself lighting up from being wet with rain.

Later I ended up on I-8 in the wee hour of the morning, but that’s for another time 🙂

Close

Not gonna lie…I enjoy getting close to lightning. Yeah, I’ll hide in the truck when my cameras are shooting…but I just really enjoy the close bolts and all the detail in them.

Yesterday was fun in the afternoon down southeast of Tucson…got some nice daytime bolts, enjoyed some flash flooding near Corona de Tucson…but after that, with storms in all directions except for where I was in Tucson…I couldn’t decide. West…east…north closer to home. Ugh. Went north, it sucks, went back to Tucson…pulled over, took a shot, then it was insane rain everywhere and I was done.

But storms popped over Phoenix while I was down there and so I was hoping to get lucky on the way home. Lightning was hitting Maricopa and near Sacaton north of me, so I setup on 187 and was hoping to get a bolt striking nearby up I-10 (which is where the car light trails are in the photo). But I setup the 50mm first and looked away as my buddy Chris Frailey pulled up, then looked back and suddenly a massive CG hit what felt like right in front of me. I stumbled as I raced to the car to get the wide angle, and two more bolts slammed down in the meantime. They were landing just about 1-2 miles away.

I got the 11-24mm ready, set to 15mm, calmly focused, f/8, iso 100, set it up, hit the shutter and BOOM this happened and then that was it haha.

25 second exposure, it all hit at once (other than the distance left one) and it was magnificent. Been waiting for a monster bolt like this for awhile now.

Interstate

Interstate
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 24mm, f/11, iso 200, 20 sec, composite // buy print)

This was probably one of the more dangerous photos I’ve ever taken. It’s also my favorite lightning strike of the summer.

I was parked well off the shoulder of the offramp here on 339th Avenue, well to the left of this frame. I was shooting in this same direction, but even though there were amazing bolts all over, the composition was boring and just didn’t look right to me. So before I could change my mind, I grabbed my tripod and ran to the middle of the overpass, in the rain, and fired off about 5-8 exposures of 20 seconds.

Two things popped into my head while standing out there. The first, of course, was that lightning was striking within a mile or two of my location. Sooooooooo….why was I on the high point of an overpass? And second…this was a skinny overpass and I had basically two feet of shoulder space. If a diesel came from the south and another from the north, I don’t know what would have happened. I was watching of course and no one was coming from the south at all, so I felt okay…but it was nerve wracking. Even if I took off running…it would have been close.

I had to take the risk though. The lightning was incredible. And all over. I knew the busy traffic of I-10 would result in some great light trails. But what I didn’t expect was to get such an an amazing, super-close bolt.

You can see where it hits just off the freeway, maybe a mile up the road? Probably less? It’s hard to say. The way it flew into the frame from the right and then slammed into the ground was amazing. But the added element of the freeway and light trails gives the photo visible dimension. You can actually feel how close it was. It’s been tough to get shots like this…mostly bolts land somewhere on the horizon, never giving you a good idea of exactly how far away they took place.

Now this is a composite image. I always like to be up-front about that. It’s only a composite though to fill in the light trails on the left side of the frame and to remove some distracting ones that were on the offramp. I took roughly 5-8 shots and so I had a few other frames to choose from to get the whole interstate lit up. I’ve been lucky before on a few shots like this where I captured all of it in a single frame…but this was only a 20 second exposure and even though I-10 is busy, a 30 second exposure would have been better. Normally I might have left it alone, but once I caught this strike…it was so worth tweaking it just a bit to make it perfect.

Hope you enjoy this! Definitely a highlight of the season for me.

The End

The End
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4, f/4, iso 400, 1/500th, handheld 9-image stitched pano // buy print)

The summer monsoon in Arizona came to an end this past weekend when a major transition event in the form of a intense trough moved through the state and caused flooding and tons of damage. We storm-chasers live for these events, which don’t seem to happen but every 4-5 years. There was a tornado risk as well, which is obviously unusual for our state.

As timing would have it…I was actually shooting a wedding on this day. I thought about chasing in the morning, but the storms were too far away to risk not getting back in town in time. So I watched what all my buddies were doing from my office as long as I could, then packed up and went to shoot a wedding that I was pretty excited about. As luck would have it…I was up by Pinnacle Peak where the bride was getting ready when the storm started to move into the West Valley. It was time to leave to go to the venue and as I headed south, the most incredible shelf cloud I’ve ever seen in Arizona was rolling over town.

I waited until I had the best possible view I could from the 101 freeway, pulled over and snapped this quick 9-image pano.

I didn’t care about composition or where I was, or the fact that Best Busy is right there in the photo. I only wanted an image of this scene to have forever.

Simply amazing.

Supernova

Event Horizon
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/4.5, 1/320 // buy print)

Here’s a shot from last summer. This was taken from an overpass towards a western setting sun and a sky alive with dust. A dust storm had already blown through earlier and you can see on the left horizon a bunch more getting ready to move towards the right in the frame.

The color of the sky made me pull over. The sun setting coupled with the brown/orange dust gave the scene an erie glow. Almost looked like a bomb had gone off in the distance.

 

Crossing Interstate 8

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, f/6.3, stack of nine images shot at 25 seconds each // buy print)

This is my second go at stacking lightning images (first is here)…I tend to avoid this but sometimes when a single shot of lightning is kind of boring and doesn’t make the cut, it’s interesting to see what happens if you put a bunch of those together into one final photograph.

I shot this back on September 4th while this storm crossed over Interstate 8 from right to left across the frame. The nine images were captured from 9:15pm to 9:21pm.

I’m neck deep in weddings and family photography right now, but yeah, I’m kind of excited already for next summer!

 

Sunset over downtown Phoenix

(Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm, 17mm, ISO100, F16, six exposure HDR)

Phoenix sucks in the way that the freeway system tries its absolute very best to avoid the downtown area. I love how the bigger cities out there like Boston have freeways and large highway systems that gut the downtown area. In Phoenix, you have to try very, very hard to get any kind of shot with a freeway + tall buildings.

I had been eying this parking garage ever since I moved downtown and had been wanting for a nice sunset to go with it. It’s not the best spot in the world, but it’s one of the few with a bird’s eye view of Interstate 10, 7th street and central Phoenix. Gorgeous sunset on Tuesday for sure. It’s kind of fun to look at the late afternoon cloud, realize there is a great impending sunset and then go find a spot. I wont go back here, but I plan on exploring some urban areas up-close next time instead of doing a grand view of the city.

I’d click on the picture for the larger view, I think the bigger version looks better (that’s what she said).

Judgment Night

(Canon Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, ISO100, F8, six exposure HDR)

Back in 1993 in the late fall, a little movie called Judgment Night hit theaters and my wife (then new girlfriend, we had graduated that summer from high school) checked it out one Friday evening. We never knew exactly what it was…maybe the theater was cold and it made the atmosphere feel a bit more real…but my wife and I got totally sucked into this film and completely freaked out by it. And we loved it. I mean, it’s a vivid memory for both of us to this day, 17 years later. When I showed this image to my wife last night asking if I should call it “The Matrix” or “Over the Top” for Movie Title Wednesday, she looked at it for a few seconds and said, “No, it makes me think of Judgment Night.

And that’s why I love this woman. She is always there to make me re-think things or to give me that other point-of-view that I so desperately need.

So this movie was great right? Denis Leary chasing Cuba Gooding Jr. and Emilio Estevez across the urban slums of some big city. After Jina pointed out the name of that film, it made complete sense to me. I can totally see these guys scrambling up some stairs and crossing this bridge over the freeway to get away from the guys wanting to kill them.

I love this photo…it’s one of the first few I shot once we moved to downtown Phoenix and it’s part of a 3-image series…the first being “Speed” and the second a shot I used for First Friday. I’m a big fan of symmetry and depth in an image, hence a lot of my shots have roads in them. The shape of the protective cage on this pedestrian bridge was also fun. Of course, I think the sky makes this image complete…stormy clouds just after the sun went down…such a great night.

I’m really starting to get sucked into to the world of urban photography and finding the beauty in all of it. I need to get out there a bit more!

(PS. I just posted this shot to Flickr and for some reason it took me this long to see that it might not be perfectly level…sometimes I see that, sometimes I don’t. Hard to tell on this one)