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Haboob over Organ Pipe

I always knew southern Arizona near the border gets interesting weather…I think I saw a brief landspout down south of Three Points last year, it seems like supercells occur more that way as well, so with some shear in place yesterday and models hinting at storms popping in that vicinity, I waited for a few hours until things started going. Wow once they got going, they exploded. Big hail cores, supercell structure, severe warnings, pea-sized hail hitting the truck. One of my favorite chases here in AZ, culminating in this epic haboob with a stacked shelf cloud rolling over the stunning landscape of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

This is a 9-image panorama just to get the entire structure of thing thing in one frame. I have a couple time-lapses I’ll be working on later which should be pretty awesome…definitely up there with my favorites of all-time out here!
And rad to meet up with my buddy Trey Greenwood down there for this chase, we were pretty stoked to see this yesterday…although I have a feeling this kind of thing may happen down there more than we realize!

Mist and Water

Every year my buddies Jay, Jason, Andrew, Aaron and I go on a road trip somewhere. The previous two have been in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. We call these little excursions “Lost//Discovered.” The name implies a feeling of getting lost from our normal lives and discovering something about ourselves. Be it passion, direction or literally anything. It’s one of my favorite times of year and this past trip was another fantastic time!

This time we decided to fly to Oregon and rent our RV there, and just explore whatever seemed fun to us. The coast, waterfalls, mountains, anything we could get to. It’s a time of year when we all have a lot less going on in our businesses photographing weddings, and it’s the perfect time to get away, explore and hang out.

These trips are often tough for me. Often at this point in the year, I just need a break and while I want to time-lapse and drone everything I see, I’ll also wish I could just carry a single camera and lens, and just stand there quietly capturing the scenes around me. It’s a battle within. Sometimes I didn’t do anything and other times I made a choice between droning or time-lapsing. I love that I didn’t do a whole lot but walked away with some scenes I’m super pumped to have photographed.

This film is short, barely three minutes, and doesn’t have a ton of scenes. I love this song “No Place on Earth” but Tony Anderson, and so I just let the notes dictate the number of clips I used. It’s a mix of drone and time-lapse of random spots in Oregon. But every shot contains either mist or water, which is pretty much why I was craving Oregon in the first place. We were hoping for foggy conditions, waterfalls, waves, the ocean and anything akin to that. Even frozen Trillium Lake covered in snow had a low fog slightly obscuring Mt. Hood. The light was amazing the morning of our second day from Ecola State Park, and I gobbled that up.

Equipment included two Canon 5DSR’s and a Phantom 3 Pro. Time-lapse clips rendered in After Effects, and the final film edited in Premiere Pro. I used the Lumetri Color effect to do simple editing of the drone footage.

Hope you enjoy!

Crimson Bolts

Combing through the archives of photos I never edited, here’s one from monsoon 2015 west of Tonopah, AZ. I had the kids with me, I was running a fever, but this isolated storm started going up and we went after it. At the time I had no time-lapse clip I felt was good enough for the ending of Monsoon II, and I was pushing myself hard. But on this night, I knew I got it.

Incredible storm, at sunset, with crazy bolts and gorgeous colors. What a fantastic night.

The Hand

A creepy, electric hand stretches out across the sky, seemingly originating from the Sand Tank Mountains.

I miss lightning. This was July 1st last year during a monsoon that started early and epic (this cell was a tornado warned storm an hour earlier), and I was standing here with a few buddies watching some amazing lightning in the distance.

Just about three months before my usual chase season begins out on the plains. Can’t wait to get back.

Swisshelm

A smattering of lightning bolts slam into the Swisshelm Mountains in southeastern Arizona

This will go down as one of my favorite chasing storms in Arizona this past summer. I didn’t end up with my best photos of all-time or anything, but it was just the night itself. I sat here watching gorgeous mammatus light up at sunset and as it got dark, the lightning started blasting on three sides of me, and I watched it slowly march over the Swisshelm Mountains to my east.

This was with the 135mm so I was super tight on the mountains hoping to get some close bolt action. I love how they are just destroying the mountainsides here while a powerful downburst is creating an exploding wall of dust that end up hitting us soon after.

The bolts were just so intense, it’s one of those nights shooting lightning that you live for.

Shelf near San Manuel

A monster shelf cloud moves towards the small community of San Manuel in southeastern Arizona

A monster shelf cloud moves towards the small community of San Manuel in southeastern Arizona

What a fantastic chase on Monday. I hung around the Marana area for a lot of the afternoon, but when a new cluster of storms blew up southwest of Casa Grande, I raced up there hoping they would do something great.

And wow they did. I’ll post more pictures later, but when I arrived south of Picacho, I time-lapsed a gorgeous storm as it slowly grew in strength and became weakly supercellular. The dusty outflow was intense and I cannot wait to get those time-lapses edited!
I raced back ahead of it and by this time the storm was picking up speed and it was tough to stay in front. As I neared Oracle Junction, a new cell blew up and essentially merged with the old one and now a shelf cloud was rapidly forming.

A slow truck kept me from racing as far ahead as I wanted, but by the time I got to the San Manuel Airport, the shelf cloud had turned into easily one of the top 3 I’ve seen here in Arizona. It was stunning, moving fast and behind it, golf ball sized hail was falling in places.

Such a blast of a day…so rare here to chase a long-track storm. This guy essentially blew up near Chuichu and died east of San Manuel. Almost 80 miles. Wow.

Obliterate

Something like hellfire rains down on these mountains west of Phoenix, with a massive bolt landing right atop Courthouse Rock.

Last night didn’t appear to have much promise, but me and the kiddos followed the storms from near Whittman all the way west of Tonopah and set up near Salome Highway and Interstate 10 to time-lapse a stormy sunset. But the storms didn’t disappear, they hung around, built up and as a new cell started dropping rain closer to us, the bolts began to crash down. Couldn’t believe it.

This was the best shot of the night…the left peak is one I always notice when I head west out of Phoenix. Just learned it’s called Courthouse Rock and on the right are the hills near Triple Eye. I wanted to turn around and go home a million times yesterday, especially with only 3 hours sleep and with ALL three kids with me, but you never know what’s going to happen.

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!

Branchless

June 30th last year down south of Tucson was such a surprising night. Shear was abnormally awesome. We saw a couple of supercells and one of them was this guy slowly moving over the Santa Rita Mountains. Love this branchless lightning...it starts off jagged but then gets that smooth, curved look that I really only see out on the plains most of the time. And that structure to the left...oh my

June 30th last year down south of Tucson was such a surprising night. Shear was abnormally awesome. We saw a couple of supercells and one of them was this guy slowly moving over the Santa Rita Mountains. Love this branchless lightning…it starts off jagged but then gets that smooth, curved look that I really only see out on the plains most of the time. And that structure to the left…oh my!