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Lost//Discovered: Time-lapse

Back in mid-January, my buddies Jason Williams, Andrew Fleming and Jay Worsley joined me for a road trip through Arizona in a rented motorhome. We dubbed the trip “LOST//DISCOVERED” to embrace the idea that we were getting away from our daily, hectic lives and finding something we’d misplaced…whatever it was. Our love of nature, our creativity, a bond with God…

We get so wrapped up in our jobs, kids, families and lives in general…trips like this are ways to experience something different. Something new. To discover who we are. Build friendships. Clear your head. Re-energize.

This road trip was roughly 1300 miles through essentially the top-right quarter of Arizona. We headed north early one morning to photograph sunrise at Sunset Point, and then from there the trip was on. We hit Grand Falls, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly and the White Mountains.

This short film is just a look back at that trip and what we saw. Being the storm-chaser that I am, it was incredibly awesome to capture a winter storm front rolling around eastern Arizona. In fact, it almost looked like a dust storm rolling in…thus we kept yelling out “SNOWBOOB!” because of just the incredible sight of it. I personally have never witnessed something like that.

Hope you enjoy this quick look at our trip and the places we saw.

And on March 9th, Jay Worsley will release his own film from the trip…which is a beautiful, 16-minute documentary style story about what we discovered along the way.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, March 2nd), we’ll be having a release party for Jay’s film and you can find out more info here.

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Photographed on: Canon 5D III’s, various lenses, Dynamic Perception Stage Zero.
Music: KINGS by Ryan Taubert (through The Music Bed)

Ghost in the House

On our trip to Grand Falls back in August, we had a lot of waiting to do before the flash flood showed up. And it got dark. So as photographers of course, we can’t just stand around and enjoy ourselves, we have to take pictures of ANYTHING.

The stars came out and I rarely get to photograph the Milky Way, so I started taking long exposures. They were okay, but then I saw the little hut my daughter was sitting in, the head lamp she had thanks to our buddy Dee, and so I backed up a bit and included her in the frame.

She barely moved for 30 seconds. Incredible. But the little bit of motion she did have kind of makes her ghostly like in the shot. My wife said it was creepy. I love this.

A beautiful starry night with the orange glow of Flagstaff on the right horizon. And hey, the Milky Way up there…always fun.

I think I’ll treasure this one for a long time. It was such a spur of the moment trip, we camped out in the back of the truck and Lyla thought that was about the most fun thing ever.

 

The Chocolate Falls

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, f/18, iso 50, 5 seconds // buy print)

Word of a flash flood hitting the Little Colorado river in northern Arizona Saturday evening changed everything I had planned for Sunday. My buddy Dee Nichols and I had been waiting for something like this for awhile, and it meant being in Grand Falls Sunday night and likely camping out.

The falls were dry when we arrived, aside from some pools of water still lingering from previous floods. Dee predicted when the water would arrive and it came 25 minutes early. Sadly, it was pitch black out, no moon and it was practically impossible to see the flood come in from up on the high cliffs.

The sound though…was amazing. Like someone had opened up a valve upstream.

Here is a shot from this morning. Lyla and I camped out in the back of the 4Runner, woke up before sunrise to get some shots of the falls before heading home. No luck with color or cool clouds, but all that might do is take away from the beauty of the water. Dirty, muddy water that is churned up sediment from the rush of a flash flood. Misty spray from the falls coating our tripods, cameras and vehicles in what one might think was a light coat of brown spray paint.

Also notice the debris pool spinning in a big circle . Awesomeness.

I have some before and after videos, plus more images, to come at a later date.

Lower Grand Falls

Below the Grand Falls

(Click to view larger with a nice, dark background)

This will likely be the last image from this past April’s annual trip to Grand Falls, Arizona. I’ve held onto it long enough, figured it was time to just post the thing. I’m sure some of you photogs who post daily photos can relate to hoarding some of your favorites for a rainy day.

If you follow my work at all, then you know about Grand Falls in the northern portions of this state located on Navajo land. It only flows from snow melt or flash floods due to massive monsoon storms. It’s one of those places that most people in Arizona have never heard of, including myself up until a few years ago. It’s not advertised, there are no signs, no parking lot, no gift shop. It’s just there.

And I like it that way.

Seeing a place like this in Arizona is something special. We don’t have many waterfalls, but this is our Niagara. In fact, from top to bottom, it’s taller than Niagara.

We last visited on April 2nd, my buddies Rick, Ken, Chris and then a bunch of other people showed up late in the day, like my wife, daughter and some other friends. This was taken at the bottom of the falls as the sun was beginning to the disappear behind me. I wanted to get a shot with the light shining off the falls before I hiked back up in time for the sunset (a shot you can see here).

There is not much else I can say about this place. You really have to see it in person.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/22, iso 100)

Seraphim Falls

(image can be viewed larger with a sweet black border if you click on it. you know you want to…)

Coming up with a title for this image for Movie Title Wednesday was kind of difficult. Most of the movies that came to mind I either didn’t remember much about, or really didn’t think fit too well. My wife liked Legends of the Fall, but I think I’ll save that for when the leaves change down the road. There was The Grand, or The Majestic…or even one that seems to fit perfectly…A River Runs Through It. But again, I don’t remember much about it other than Brad Pitt was in it and that I was a senior in high school! Ack! There was also The River Wild with Meryl Streep…but I didn’t like that either.

In the endSeraphim Falls was the title. I highly doubt most of you have seen it, but it’s definitely worth renting. Pierce Brosnan is hiding in the Rocky Mountains just after the Civil War has ended and Liam Neeson is a Confederate Colonel who wants the man killed to avenge a wrong. It all goes back to something that happened at Seraphim Falls…which you eventually discover.

I loved the title of the movie when I first heard it. I wanted to make it fit here but wasn’t quite sure EXACTLY what Seraphim meant, so I looked it up and was pumped when it has a rough translation of “burning ones.” Sure, it’s kind of a stretch, but when you think of a sunset and the fiery red skies you tend to get…it works.

Last weekend I got up at 3am to meet three other photogs to go up north and shoot all day. Despite all the fun I had and the pictures I took…this one shot above of Grand Falls was my entire reason for going. I’m not saying this about the photograph itself, but more about the scene.  Ever since I visited for the first time last year and had boring blue skies, I’ve been dreaming of getting back there and capturing a gorgeous sunset. It was like the entire day boiled down to this span of five minutes when the sky changed color.

The fact that we even got color was amazing. The sun was stuck behind some very thick clouds and as it got darker and darker…I thought that was it. Nothing was coming through that. And then suddenly in the northeast the clouds turned red. My heart jumped. I started waving at the other guys to point it out. People started moving around excitedly. Slowly the color moved westward until…for what was probably less than a minute…the sky looked as it did in the photo above.

Then it was gone.

I loved the day, loved the time spent with friends and especially loved that my wife and daughter were up there to share this with me.  Last year’s trip was exciting, but this one will be the one I remember always.

(of course, until I go back next year…have some fun ideas for 2012)

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/10, iso 200)

 

Grand Falls: A short little video

(Make sure to watch the video in 1080p glory!)

As promised, I put together a short little video on Grand Falls from our trip this past Saturday. If you watch it on YouTube, you’ll see a lot of links to other Grand Falls videos, some of which really show the power of the Falls when they are at peak flow. I think this is probably the only HD video of Grand Falls out there, but I really hope to someday capture them going nuts like in some of those others.

The Falls are just amazing. I hope the video gives you a better impression as to the scale of them, because it’s not always easy to tell from a simple photograph. My daughter did her best impression of a foreground object and I think it helps a lot *grin*

Next year I plan on doing a lot more video and also hopefully a long time-lapse. This was the first time using my 5D Mark II for video and sadly there’s a nice dust spot on the lens (My Tamron 17-35mm 2.8), plus some herky-jerky movements. Hopefully it doesn’t induce any motion sickness for you all.

I have to say…I do love the quality of the HD video though…pretty remarkable. Can’t wait to dig into it more. Will be using it to document some of my stormchasing adventures this summer.

The Grand Falls

(click on the image to see it full size or at least fit your screen for we with smaller resolutions)

Saturday a bunch of us, including photographers, wives and my little girl, all ventured up to northern Arizona to see the annual, gorgeous display at Grand Falls. The Falls don’t flow all year for the most part, they are the result of snow melt in the early spring or flash floods during major rainstorms.

I need to get to bed and have an early, early Monday morning trip to Vegas where I’ll be all week, but I wanted to post this shot from our trip. The day was absolutely perfect except for some very windy conditions. The clouds were magnificent and the skies a dark, rich blue. I don’t know what it is about northern Arizona, but with the clarity and richness in those skies, a circular polarizer is your best friend.

Lots more to come from the trip…including a gorgeous sunset and some high-def video of the Falls themselves, so you out-of-state-ers can get a better idea of the size and scale of this place. It’s absolutely a must-see.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/10, iso 100, 1/125sec, circular polarizer)

Revisiting the Grand Falls in northern Arizona

Some of you may remember a photo or two I posted from my trip to Grand Falls in May…I posted a few shots of it…one here and one here.  I think I processed this one as a black and white first and posted it in a few  random places, like Flickr and JPG Mag. But I was looking back through my photos the other day and realized I’d always wanted to see this one as an HDR and just forgot about it.

I love the scope and details that you can see in the shot. Clicking on the photos for the larger version takes away some of the sharpness, but the details are still there.

What’s interesting about the falls is all the junk that is collected in the lower left portion of the photo. Most of what you can see are from trees and dead foliage captured along the way, but there are definitely some “man-made” objects down there as well.

This is definitely a place I plan on revisiting next March, hopefully after a nice, snowy season for the high country. The flow over the Falls when it’s peak is pretty amazing from what I’ve seen in photos. I need to see that in person.

Sunset from below Grand Falls

(click on the photo for a larger view)

I’ve seen pictures where Grand Falls is flowing with so much water it almost looks like a western version of Niagara Falls. In fact, the 184-drop of Grand Falls is higher than Niagara.

March of this year was probably the best time to actually see the water roaring over the edge, so I missed it by a few months. However, if I’d been there back in March, this shot wouldn’t have been possible. I’d likely be standing in at least 2-4 feet of raging water, if not more.

The shadows on the right side of the photo kind of reveal that the sun was going down behind me and it really cast a wonderful light on the waterfall itself. And those that follow my work know how much I love clouds in my shots, so I was extremely lucky and blessed to have some of the stormy stuff make it into the photo.

Technical jargon: I finally purchased some ND filters just for this very trip and this shot was created with five manually bracketed shots using an external shutter trigger, a 3 stop ND filter and a CPL filter.

Welcome to Grand Falls, Arizona

One of my “bucket list” items if you will was to visit this amazing place called Grand Falls. It’s in northern Arizona about 30 miles or so northeast of Flagstaff. The falls are located on Indian land and the last leg is a 10 mile drive on a bumpy dirt road, which in my little Toyota Solara, took about 45 minutes to traverse.

I have a ton more photos to post over the week, but this is the first one, it even may be my favorite of the bunch. So far.

While not a ton of people know about this place, it has been photographed a number of times. I was hoping to find my own view of it, my own angle and perhaps something different. I don’t think any HDR shots of it have been done before either, that was my other goal. Those are yet to come.

This shot is a simple black and white, and looks at the falls as scene through one of the covered viewing areas. I liked how the wood pillars and stone roof sort of framed the scene in front of me.

Much more to come…click on the above picture for a larger look!