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Arc of Glory – Another epic Arizona sunset

(please click on the photo for a larger view)

I always hear from people that Arizona seems to have the best sunsets.  I actually  like a lot of the ones I see shot in Florida by a few photogs I know (example).

But I tend to agree about Arizona. Of course, I’m biased and also haven’t lived anywhere else *grin*

Last night was another one of those. I hadn’t been out in awhile to shoot the sunset, and that was mostly because we just haven’t had much in the way of clouds and weather lately. But this week a giant cold front moves through the southwest and the sky last night ended up being spectacular.

Usually I love it when the sun sets and then illuminates the underbelly of the cloudy sky, but this ended up being a little different. The fluffy clouds didn’t get lit up much, but the high clouds behind it exploded in a glorious arc of color, which ended up almost as a backlight to the forward, lower-lying clouds. It made for a spectacular sight. In some ways, it almost looks like a massive nuclear explosion on the horizon that is slowly expanding.

Technically, this is a merge of two, 3-shot HDRs. I worked on it late last night, and in the morning hours I wonder if I could have straightened the horizon a little more on the left. I may tweak it later before it hits the gallery.

This was shot just about half a mile from my house. Drove down a dirt road lined with tall weeds to find a nice desert shrub to help compose the foreground.

The Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix

This is probably the last shot from my recent walk of downtown Phoenix. The Herberger Theatre is not a historic building, having only been constructed in 1989, but it was part of the revitalization/redevelopment of downtown Phoenix and responsible for helping to foster the growth of performance art in that area.

I’ve only seen one show there, a friend of mine was in Fiddler on the Roof back a very long time ago (at least 12 years) and I just remember it being a fun little play and an awesome venue.

Technical gibberish about this photos: 6-7 bracket HDR ranging from 2 second-25 second exposures.

This Friday I’m hoping to photograph around late night downtown Tempe along Mill Avenue, after a little happy hour/going away hoopla for a friend at work.

Of course, I’m not done with Phoenix…I have a lot more to explore down there. Sometime soon I shall return!

Storms and Stones

Today’s photo is one I’ve  been waiting to take for awhile, but I had been waiting for some cool skies to show up to add to the composition. I’m a sucker for cool clouds and storms, so if I am ever outdoors taking landscape shots, or random sights such as the one above, getting a sweet sky is a bonus.

This is a graveyard/cemetery at St. Anne’s Mission down on the Gila River Indian Reservation. It’s right off the road on Highway 87. I will be posting a shot of the church itself later this week.

But I love these two graves. My favorite part is the makeshift bench in front of both of them. Someone set that up one day long ago and still it stands. I wonder who first sat there, how they knew the people buried here and what they were thinking?

The graves themselves are adorned with all kinds of stuff…if you click on the photo you can see the higher resolution version and see some of it.

Also in the background are hundreds of other crosses that dominate this cemetery.

Downtown Phoenix from the ASU campus

Another photo from my little trip to downtown Phoenix last Saturday night. If you saw my shot of the light pillars from yesterday, you can also see them in this shot off to the left.

This is definitely something a little different for me. My HDR photos tend to lean more to the “realistic” side of things, instead of being artistic and almost fake looking. The unprocessed version of this photo had a lot of color in it that just seemed a little distracting to me, so I lowered the saturation a lot and toned it down a bit.

The completed shot certainly has more of a “painting” feel to it than an actual photo…which is okay sometimes. Most of the time though, I try to get them to look as close to possible to what I saw with my naked eye.

Planning another visit down there next weekend sometime, so hoping to visit the grungier side of downtown Phoenix and get some old railroad shots, older buildings…and whatever else I find.

The Multi-Color Light Pillars of downtown Phoenix

If you can imagine…I was walking past this and completely missed it. In fact, if it wasn’t for another photographer with a tripod setup, I might have just strode on by without ever knowing what could have been. In the picture above, against the sky on the right side of the shot, you can see a very large net-like structure against the sky.

That was my target. I had come down to Phoenix looking to get a shot of that lit up. But as it usually works out for me, the thing I intended to photograph becomes nothing compared to what I find along the way. It happens to me all the time. I’ve almost started to count on it.

So I was grateful for this other photog I saw getting his own shots from another angle. He made me pause, look and realize the beauty of these lights. It’s hard to see in a still photography, but they pulsated with light in different patterns, lighting up the floor and ceiling of this little covered area.

The above shot is an HDR from 5-6 brackets. I was there for awhile, then went over to the big “net” to try and get shots of that, but then soon found myself back at this first spot, this time with an entirely different color being “played” on the pillars.

The below is my return trip, another HDR from 5-6 brackets. The orange-red color looks different than the blue above because the light was pulsating in a completely different pattern.

Glorious morning over the San Tans

I woke up yesterday, saw the clouds, put on sandals, grabbed camera bag, told wife Starbucks was coming, left house, drove south, set up and enjoyed a nice rising sun streaming rays behind the fluffy clouds.

This is Arizona. We haven’t seen clouds like this in what feels like a month. It’s nothing but sunshine now…even the green desert is starting to turn brown already.

The land just south of my house is mostly fields and some farming areas, so there isn’t much in the way of excitement for the foreground of most photos (although yesterday’s shot with the dead log was luck!), but I still like long dirt roads and fields of gold…plus there wasn’t much time before the sun rose higher and the clouds disappeared.

A glorious morning indeed.

Highway 60 to Superior

Not too long ago I posted photos from our little visit to the area west of Superior, Arizona in search of the wildflowers. Along the way, as I was running back and forth across Highway 60 to snap some shots, I stopped in the middle and looked east…immensely enjoying the road curving off in the distance and the mountain on the horizon.

I am in love with road photos…there is just something that connects me with seeing the way a line of striped pavement runs off into the horizon or bends to disappear around a hill.

You can see a slideshow of all my favorite road photos on my gallery. It’s sort of small now, but this summer I expect it to triple in size from the storm chasing I’ll be doing. The only thing better than a road photo is one with storm clouds hovering in a menacing way.

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.

Deposit

When I was in Utah, I stopped to take a self-portrait on a little old bridge covered in snow (You can see that photo over on Flickr). While there, I noticed a post that is used for depositing money at the campsite in the summer months…stuff with an old rusty saw.

Now, I have no idea what it was doing there. Maybe the forest rangers shove it in there during the offseason to stop junk from being thrown inside it, or maybe some prankster stuffed this thing in there..who knows.

I thought it was funny looking and tried to get a good angle on it for a quick HDR.

Some graffiti on the Gila River Indian Reservation

Back in February my wife, my daughter and little ol’ me went for a short drive south of Chandler along State Route 87 and then took a turn into a road in the Gila River Indian Reservation. We found a very cool bridge (which is the first picture below) that was covered in graffiti. Coupled with the storm clouds, I was just loving this shot.

But after we crossed it, we found this water diversion structure adorned in graffiti, and while to some it may be vandalism and a crime (which it probably is), I found it beautiful in the setting we were in.

This isn’t some fence in a neighborhood, or an overpass on a freeway…this was a little used road, a little seen structure that is suddenly a very cool visual art display. I wont say it’s the greatest graffiti art I’ve ever seen, but it’s still kind of awesome.

There are some HDR shots in here as well as some standard shots.


The above is an HDR shot of the bridge and the storm clouds. Yummy.

A shot of the diversion structure and some building that is a part of it.

This is a decent view of the building, the structure  and the bridge behind it…graffiti everywhere.

A wider shot…this is over a second, smaller bridge that spanned this little water flow. HDR.

An HDR photo looking down the stairs into the structure. HDR.

A shot inside the building, looking in from one of the doorways. HDR.

This is looking back out the way I walked in. HDR.

This was actually shot elsewhere, on a different day, but it was on the same Indian reservation.