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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 🙂

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.

Over the Hill

Beyond the Hill
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2 l, iso 100, f/5.6, 25 sec // buy print)

A massive release of electricity explodes over the town of Whetstone, Arizona…with the cities of Huachuca and Sierra Vista off in the background. Taken along Highway 90 on a night where I dragged all three kids with me to southern Arizona when the wife was out of town haha.

It was an amazing night overall. Before this I photographed a lightning storm with the Milky Way in full glory for over an hour. You can see that time-lapse at the end of my Monsoon film released two weeks ago.

Sunset on the Beeline

Sunset on the Beeline
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/10, 1 second // buy print)

I’m a storm chaser through and through…that’s just what I do. I have a hard time going anywhere and just waiting for something good to happen. I’ve wanted to do a few trips this year, one mainly to a spot on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, just to camp for a few days and get some epic shots.

But it’s not in me to do that. I love the chase. The unknown. What will I end up with tonight?

This photo is a prime example of that. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but what it shows you is that beauty can be found anywhere, even though you don’t expect it.

This was from July 6th of this year. I saw a big line of storms moving in off the White Mountains and thought I might get in front of them right when it got dark and could destroy some lightning shots over the hills. But as it neared me, the storms started dying, the lightning wasn’t coming my way.

As I sat there bumming, this glow slowly appeared in the sky…and I wasn’t expecting it. The clouds were so thick everywhere, I had no idea the sun could possibly make it all this way.

But then the clouds  ignited and I couldn’t believe the color. It was intense.

Sunsets are weird in a way. It’s like you know a storm is great because there is wind and thunder and rain, and you can “feel” it. A sunset though…it’s like something so amazing and powerful, but it’s utterly silent. You look up and see an explosion of color, but there are no trumpets playing, no orchestra…just quiet.

Makes it all the better.

 

Fork

Fork
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm f/1.4, iso 100, f/5.6, 30 sec // buy print)

I’ve been trying to do some housekeeping this month since it’s been a bit slow and the crazy amount of weddings I have through spring haven’t started yet. I’m a lot better about deleting photos I know I’ll never work on. As time goes by, your feelings change and what you like now might mean you don’t like shots you took then. I’ve gotten last year pretty much cleaned and so I went back to 2011.

And found this little guy sitting there with 4 stars meaning I intended to edit it someday and never did. At the time the reason was that I already had two other shots from this angle that were downright rad. But when I saw this one…I was like, this guy is rad too, why did he get left out?

Processed it over the weekend and am dropping it now. This is on Gilbert Road south of Hunt Highway taken on September 10th, 2011. The lightning was super intense on this storm that battered Chandler. Was an awesome night.

A December sunset over Phoenix

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, f/16, iso 50, 1/6 sec // buy print)

Since the monsoon season ended, I feel as if I’ve done nothing but take pictures of brides, grooms, kids, babies, families, parents, couples…and not much else. In fact, it’s more than a feeling, it’s true. In my Lightroom catalog, I have my fine art work (storms, landscapes, etc) organized by date. The previous entry was October 12th before I went out last night.

We’ve basically been having sick sunsets and sunrises all week and I finally had a few nights off. But being tired and all that, I only drove a few blocks to my fav parking garage and waited for the colors to arrive. It’s a place I’ve shot at a bunch of times, but it really does offer one of the better views of downtown. And yup, we got yet another beautiful evening sky across Arizona.

Looking forward to hopefully some winter storms later this month or into January.

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!

 

Back to the Future II

(please click to see on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/6.3, iso 200, 25 sec // buy print)

I wanted to do a Movie Title Wednesday, but since I released the new website/branding yesterday, this post got bumped until today. I’ve already used Back to the Future as a movie, so I believe this is the first time ever I’ve gone with a sequel!

Usually when there is lightning to photograph, I’m out and about in the early evening getting to where I need to be. But on Monday night, I didn’t leave the house until almost 9pm. We had chilled with friends for dinner and when I got home, I realized a pretty substantial outflow was marching northwest from southeast Arizona.

I expected to be shooting around the Tucson area, maybe south of it, but as I got near, the storms to the east were going nuts and everything south was dying. I ended up traveling along highway 77 through the town of Mammoth for the first time ever. And basically followed this storm all the way back north-northwest to Superior.

Ended up not getting home until after 2am. Was a fun night. Especially when you get a shot like this.

This is a single 25-second exposure. The route was pretty low on traffic, so the odds of snagging some light trails along with five bolts in one frame must have been crazy high.

I figured Back to the Future II worked here…the light trails being like fire trails, and the lightning strikes providing 1.21 gigawatts of awesomeness.  Huge fan of those films. Although #2 is kind of the weaker one IMHO.

A wall of dust from Jomax Road

Dust Storm Haboob Jomax Road Arizona

Just a quickie shot from Jomax Road at around 8pm on Wednesday evening. Dust storm rolled right across the entire Phoenix area and out the northwest side.

Loving that 14mm Rokinon lens I purchased not too long ago. Super wide fun.

 

The Beeline Curve

The Beeline Curve light trails Arizona

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 2.8 is l, 185mm, f/11, iso 100, 30 sec)

One of my favorite roads in Arizona is the Beeline Highway. It takes you through some of the most beautiful areas of Arizona. You can see the Superstition mountains, the Four Peaks, Sycamore Creek and all kinds of other things. It allows you to travel from Phoenix to Payson, where the beauty and cool temps of the Mogollon Rim are only 90 minutes from the hot desert.

I’ve always loved this curve in the highway, but never figure out how to shoot it until last night. Our sunset shoot out at the Four Peaks was a bust because of the rain and low clouds, but the west horizon was beautiful and I pulled out the 70-200 to grab some silhouette shots of cactus against the sky.

As I turned to leave, I noticed a lot more cars traveling along the Beeline than you usually see. I figured a bunch must be coming home from Roosevelt Lake or seeing the snow up north. Already having the 70-200 on there made me realize I could get a sweet, compressed shot of this bend in the highway and the light trails of all the vehicles.

I urge you to click to view it full-sized on black, I think WordPress darkened the image up a bit when it re-sized it down to 960.