Posts

Empire of the Sun

Tomorrow I will be posting my recap of images from 2012 and this one is part of that collection. But I felt like it deserved its own post prior to that one, just because of how special it is to me.

This is my daughter during a storm chase early last summer. We had stumbled across a wide open, cracked earth field near Eloy. The sky was amazing. The sun was casting sick rays from behind them. And Lyla, being the independent girl that she is, started wandering off towards the sunset, always looking back at me to see when was “too far.” But I stood there in awe and then laid down to start snapping. A single tree, a beautiful horizon, ridiculous clouds and my little girl framed against all of it.

A magical moment for me…probably my favorite photograph from last year. I couldn’t think of a better title for the post today, but it IS Movie Title Wednesday after all!

20120703-14407-01

Con Air

(click image to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, iso 400, f/8, 1/80th // buy print)

Back in late July on a random storm chase down in Tucson, I ended up close to the Boneyard, so I thought I’d try to frame some of these amazing old airplanes against a monsoon sky. It wasn’t super easy, as every yard has barbed-wire-laced chain link fences surrounding them. I pulled my truck up to about 2 feet away from a fence, got up on top of the roof and shot down into the yard. Was actually kind of interesting because it was like the truck was a moving tripod and I repositioned a few times to get the composition I wanted.

I believe when I was taking the shot, 50% of the motivation was so I could use it for Movie Title Wednesday, haha. Con Air has been a long-time favorite of mine…Malkovich, Buscemi, Cusack…Cage…”Put the bunny…back…in the box.” There is nothing about that movie that isn’t awesome. Great lines, great actors…glorified, over-done action scenes. So good.

These boneyards would be such an amazing place to photograph for a day or two. Endless fun.

 

Titanic

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 1/15th // buy print)

Movie Title Wednesdays are now few and far between these days, but I stumbled upon this image last night and realized I never posted it and felt like it was about time. I dubbed it Titanic because my wife has looked at this scene twice now and that’s the first movie that pops into her head.

And yeah, I love the movie. Can’t help it! Man card turned in!

But the way this old pier and that lamp post are covered in calcium deposits…it truly does look like the pictures we’ve seen of the Titanic. This image was taken at Bombay Beach along the Salton Sea in California back in January of this year. I made the trip with some friends from Phoenix and we met up with my buddies Heath O’Fee from Canada and Chris DeAngelis/Doug Wise from California. We had a spectacular time and on our first and only visit to Bombay Beach…couldn’t have asked for a better sunset.

This image actually fits even more for Movie Title Wednesday because it’s kind of a prequel. A week after our visit, I posted a photo from this same spot taken at 6:00pm. You can click right here to view that one.

The photograph above was taken at 5:52pm, just eight minutes earlier. Kind of amazing how much the sky changed in that short span of time. This image was always my favorite of the two because of the way the last rays of sunlight hit the lamp post and a few areas of the pier.

Definitely loved going back to that day and finding a few more images to post. We all had such an awesome time, that will of course be one of my favorite photography trips ever…and mostly because of the guys I was with.

Thor

Thor - LIghtning on Interstate 8

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, f/6.3, iso 800, 20 sec // buy print)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Movie Title Wednesday and I’ve missed it. So today we’re back with a flash and a bang and a crackle…a lightning strike worthy of the gods.

I’m a huge comic book fan and everything Marvel has done with their superhero movies has been amazing. Creating these separate movies like Iron Man, Captain America…the Hulk…Thor…and then throwing them together into The Avengers was perfectly executed and unlike anything we’ve seen before. The Hulk movies may not have been awesome, but they made up for it with the Hulk stealing the show in The Avengers.

So I dub this lightning photo “Thor“…because it could actually serve as a scene of the god of war coming down to earth. At least I think so. This is one of my favorite strikes to-date. I took a chance here with ISO 800, but I really wanted to illuminate the clouds on an awesome strike and I got lucky enough to not have a blown-out scene. I love the way it starts up high, you can see it in and out of the clouds and then it crashes down to earth with multiple bolts.

And this was 17mm too, uncropped…pretty dang close!

A fantastic storm in the vicinity of Gila Bend last night. I had given up after some other storms died without me even taking the camera out of my bag…but then I looked west, high-tailed it that way and got a couple of awesome strikes on camera.

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.

Unforgiven

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/22, 1/15 // buy print)

If you are new to the blog, I usually reserve Wednesdays for movie themed images…something I like to call Movie Title Wednesdays. Genius right? I’ve been doing this for quite awhile now…in fact, if you click on the tag at the bottom of the page for “movie title series” you can look back at all of them.

This week we’ve got Unforgiven, a Clint Eastwood film that came out my junior year of high school. Crazy long time ago. Probably the fact that I was 17 and a moron, led me to feel like the movie was boring at the time. And then it won an Oscar for Best Picture. I’ve still only seen it that one time. I would love to re-watch it someday and find out why it got that Oscar. Likely due to the fact it was a sick cast of Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman I reckon.

So when I finished this image up and was thinking about a movie title, Unforgiven immediately came to mind. This desolate beach landscape on the western shores of the Salton Sea was almost like something out of a nightmare. Crunchy ground, soft in places, the smells of dead fish and fowl filled your nostrils…and then you see all these dead trees that appear to have had their tops sheared off as it from a bomb blast.

Definitely an unforgiving world…and unforgiving landscape.

The Rock

The Rock - Canon Beach - Haystack Rock

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, 0.4sec // buy print)

I am in Corvallis, Oregon for three days this week for my day job and was absolutely blessed with an opportunity to go to Cannon Beach on Monday before heading down south. It allowed me to witness one of the most breathtaking sights in America. At least…one of the most amazing places I’ve seen so far in my life.

Quickly though…it’s Movie Title Wednesday and the choice for this image was obvious. The Rock. Nic Cage. Sean Connery. Alcatraz. Yeah, it’s a crazy, over the top movie, but I loved it. It’s right up there with Con Air in my book. Good, fun, guy flicks.

This is Haystack Rock, as if you didn’t know. It’s one of the more iconic locations in the United States. It’s very shape is usually enough for people to know what they are looking at.

What’s amazing to me…is that no photograph I’ve seen does it justice. Much like the Grand Canyon…you can’t look at a photo of these places and get any real idea of the real scope of them. You have to be there. You have to see it with your own eyes. You walk up to it and it just towers over you. Birds fly around at the top and they feel so far away.

It was a 90 minute or so drive to get there from Portland, and then it was a three hour drive to Corvallis after sunset, and I didn’t get to my hotel until 11:30 last night and I’m paying for it today.

But I wouldn’t have missed seeing that place for the world. I was hoping for some gorgeous sunset color, but then again…you know me…dark, moody…stormy…that’s my kind of weather!

As I said above, but in case you missed it…please click on the image to view on black…it’s also shrinks it to fit your monitor and is the actual size of the exported image, and thus looks more accurate!

The Forgotten

The Forgotten - Bombay Beach - Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/22, 117sec // buy print)

The Forgotten is a not-so-great film with a pretty great title, so I’m using it this week for Movie Title Wednesday! When I look at this image, the word “forgotten” is the first thing that comes to mind.

The movie itself stars Julianne Moore and is a sort of creepy, sci-fi, horror-ish kind of tale. I honestly don’t remember much other than Moore and seeing a dude get sucked through the roof of a cabin. I’m a sucker for sci-fi films in general and I do feel like I enjoyed this one. But judging by the 5.7 on IMDB, it wasn’t the best-ever reviewed movie. Check it out though if you are in the mood for something different on a Friday night.

This image comes once again from the Salton Sea. The movie title encompasses not only this particular photograph, but in reality, the entire Salton Sea area. It’s so strange that this place exists in the middle of California. At one point the plan was to turn it into a resort and amazing getaway location. Instead you now get to see a land that time forgot. People still live out there, amazingly…but it’s a weird kind of existence.

Bombay Beach was where this image was taken. I urge you to click on it to see it bigger and sharper. I once again have to thank my buddy Chris DeAngelis for letting me use his 10-stop filter (I now have my own, yay!) to get this long exposure. I processed this using tonality control and luminosity masking, which I discovered through an amazing photographer named Zack Schnepf. Now, usually when doing that, I’m going for a natural look, but this scene demanded more and so I added some apocalyptic tones to give it an extra punch.

Next week I head to Oregon for 3 1/2 days and expect to be able to do a bit of 10-stop photography along the coast. I’ve been there once before and it was amazing fun. Can’t wait to get back.

Moon

Moonrise - Highway 87

.

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/5.0, iso 4000, 20 sec // buy print)

It’s Movie Title Wednesday, a series that has been going on so long that I’m surprised I haven’t run out of films to use yet.

Moon is one of those hidden gems that you may not have heard of before. It came out several years ago and stars Sam Rockwell as a guy who is on a 3-year stint managing a mining operation on the Moon that helps replenish Earth’s resources. If you love pure, classic science fiction…this is a film you gotta see. The movie received an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.0 rating on IMDB. Solid numbers.

On the last day of stormchasing the monsoons last year, I ended up driving over 450 miles. I was up near Winslow, the day was over and it was time to head home. I chose highway 87 which would take me through Payson, a route I’d only been on once before. A bit after 8pm I realized I was in this wide open area with retreating clouds and some of the Milky Way appearing above me. I pulled over and aimed south to capture some stars, but the clouds were quickly returning and the shot didn’t turn out so well.

But then, as usually happens, I turned around and saw the moon rising. I’ve shown this picture to a few people, plus it appears at the end of my latest book, and most of the time the first thought is that it’s a sunrise. Until you see the stars in the sky and realize that would be impossible.

The moon rose with a orange glow about it and the clouds were perfect, even getting lit up underneath a bit as if it were a sunrise. The taillights from the car illuminated the highway.

It was so peaceful out there too…quiet, nothing for miles and miles and miles. Not a car in sight. Was a wonderful way to end the stormchasing season.

 

Equilibrium

Equilibrium - Arizona Monsoon Lightning

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 125, f/5.6, 30 sec // buy print)

Please click to view on black!

One thing I try very, very hard to avoid is posting an image and then saying something like “OMG, this is my bestest, most favoritest photo I’ve ever taken in all the land!” I have many reasons for that, and if you want to know them, you can ask, but it’s just my general rule.

Yeah, gonna break that one today.

Before that though, it’s Wednesday and I haven’t done a Movie Title image in awhile, so here you go. Equilibrium. Christian Bale. It was really, really good. Check it out.

So this is my favorite lightning image of 2011. I didn’t sit down and look through all my photos and debate over which was best. This was always it. I knew when I saw it that it would be. And there are two reasons why.

(btw, those who bought my book have already seen this and thus know the story behind it already!)

First…the scene itself is incredibly unique. Two layers of clouds…a low one that is hugging the tops of mountains beyond the immediate horizon, and the upper one that is a boiling thunderstorm. Then you have a lighting strike running sideways between these two layers.  I didn’t shoot anything like it over the course of the last two summers and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to duplicate it. The only question I ask myself when I look at this is why I don’t have it printed and hanging in the house yet? I’m so bad at that.

The second and final reason has little to do with the actual picture. It was the work that led up to it. The effort. I had been in Tucson earlier that evening and as the storms were dying out, I decided to fly north and catch what was hitting Phoenix. But those storms were moving too fast. They were northeast of Phoenix by the time I hit town. For some reason though, I kept going. I blew through Phoenix and started up the Beeline Highway. I got almost all the way to Rye when I decided to turnaround. The weather were dying out, it was getting late and I felt like I failed after having just driven 180 miles with nothing to show for it.

But on the way back…a random storm popped up east of the highway. There was no reason for it, everything else had quieted down, but I saw it, I stopped and aimed my camera at the place I saw the flash.

This was the next shot that my camera captured.

It proved to me that what I was doing and the way I was doing it was valid. That my instincts were good and I was meant to do this.

And there was a lesson in that night for me. Simply put…when others stop, I should keep going. If I want a shot that no one else can get, then I need to be doing what no one else is doing.

It’s not easy…but you know what? I was all alone on that highway and the only one around to see this. And I’m so glad I was.