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Inferno

Inferno
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/10, iso 100, 0.5 sec // buy print)

I’ve made quite a few trips to the Grand Canyon this year and last, but never have I seen the color and sky like I did a week ago. I went up there of course hoping for lightning, which never materialized…but this blazing sunset was such a treat it made up for everything!

Someday I’ll get the storms I want over that place, but in the meantime…I’ll take a sunset like that!

Wilaha

A distant thunderstorm rumbles and throws down tons of bolts west of the small community of Wilaha in northern Arizona.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2, f/5.6, iso 500, 25 sec, 6-images stacked)

I spent yesterday afternoon up in northern Arizona, hoping to grab some lightning at the Grand Canyon, but of course…that’s an elusive goal and once again it didn’t pan out. But I did see quite a few rotating storms, drove through a great hail storm east of the Canyon, then witnessed a beautiful rainbow over the Little Colorado canyon there, followed up by a gorgeous sunset from Moran Point and then this little isolated storm on my way home towards Williams. It blew up in the distance west of Wilaha, moved closer and closer to me, the bolts were great, but sadly no good west roads and it died out before I was hoping.

Decided to do a 6-image stack of this storm…because it was so distant and any single bolt didn’t seem to do it justice!

Thunderstorm on Luepp Road

Thunderstorm on Luepp
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/9, 1/200sec // buy print)

One of the more beautiful areas of Arizona is this little stretch of highway on Luepp Road northeast of Flagstaff. You take it to get to Grand Falls, which is where I was headed this day.

What I love about this terrain are the smooth mountains that were former volcanoes in another life. You don’t really get to see them too well in this photo, but the left horizon is the start of one of these mountains. But the grasslands are still amazing and the scenery is beautiful. In various places roads head off into the distance as this area is also used as farm land.

Of course all of it is made better by a gorgeous little downpour from a monsoon storm. One of my favorite images from last summer.

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.

The orange moon

Click to view on black, I think it’s got a much better feel to it.

I’m not much of an astral photographer…star trails, the Milky Way…the Moon…none of these are my strong suit at all. I just haven’t felt a strong desire to shoot these kinds of subjects.

And honestly, the moon has been shot a bazillion times…what else can do you do with it?

But despite all of that, I got up early on Saturday morning to check out the lunar eclipse that was going to turn the moon orange. I’ve never seen that before and the next eclipse of this type wont come again until 2014 (so I heard), so I figured why not try to take a few pictures.

It was a negative 2 degrees (Fahrenheit for my Canadian friends) and I think that was the coldest temperature I’ve ever experienced before. That’s what I get living in Arizona.

All I had was my 70-200mm, and I thought the moon might fill the frame a bit more than it did, but this was the result. No cropping…I kind of liked the descending line of trees so I kept it this way. This shot was the best of the bunch. Right after this moment the sky started going brighter and brighter, and as the moon became fully eclipsed, it was too light out to even see much more than an outline.

A sliver of color

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35 f/2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, 0.6 sec // buy print)

This was one of the last shots I took during the 2011 summer monsoons. I was about as far away from Phoenix as I’d been all year…near a town called Joseph City that I don’t recall having known existed before.

The sky at sunset was pretty epic, but I found myself in somewhat of a bad spot…houses, industrial stuff around, so I kind of missed out on some clouds to my south. But I drove north along a very muddy dirt road to capture this unique looking scene.

The down draft of rain is being lit up by the setting sun…only the sun wasn’t shining on it from below as you’d expect. The only thing I can think of was that it was hitting the tops of the clouds in such a way that it was reflecting downwards. The color felt like it was coming from inside the cloud, not from without.

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)

The 505

The 505 - Abandoned Gas Station in Two Guns, Arizona

(Please clickity-click to see the empty garage larger than life with a nice, dark background)

Feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything of the urbex variety on the site, especially now that storm season has arrived. Feels good to change the pace up and throw out an image from waaaay back in April that I kept forgetting about.

This was the inside of an old, abandoned gas station up at Two Guns, Arizona. I friggin’ love old, lost gas stations along well-traveled highways. Anything left for dead like that is cool, but you have to wonder how a gas station could fail when it sits right on a freeway that sees thousands of cars a day.

Probably the creepiest thing in this picture is the little girl graffiti off to the right. I think her name is Gem.

I loved how open the place felt with all the glass and sliding doors long gone, so I wanted to include the sky as much as I could.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100)

The bridge at Two Guns

(click to make the photo bigger (you must have a pretty big monitor!) or so it fits your screen)

I’m exhausted, I must say. Four hours of yardwork on Saturday resulted in a bit of a sun burn. Sunday I joined my buddy Rick Young in shooting a destination beach wedding in Los Angeles. More sunburn. Flew in at 7am, got home around 10:30pm. Last Thursday I was notified that I was needed in Vegas this week for my day job, so today I was up at 4:15am after hitting the sack around midnight.  And here I sit in the little control room wanting to focus on work, but I’m tired, cranky and miss my girls back home.

So of course I figured why not write up this blog post real quick, since I haven’t had anytime to do it before now.

I love this image. It was taken on our trip to the Two Guns ghost town back on April 2nd.  To get in this spot, I hiked down an animal-created path that was made up of a combination of deer prints and perhaps a few bear prints. My buddy Ken Peterson told me I’d probably get bitten by a snake while down here too. Lots of tall, dead things. It may be hard to tell, but all those tall branches at the bottom of this image were over 12 feet tall at least.

But I saw this bride out in the distance and wanted to see what it looked like underneath. The aforementioned Rick Young has a great shot of the bridge from far away right here. I love how he applied a bit of Focal Point foreground blur to make the image pop.

I liked this angle though and am glad I made the hike to get here. A beautiful, old bridge and one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Two Guns in the first place.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/16)

Kamp Two Guns

Old Campground at Two Guns Arizona

This is another image from our April 2nd trip to northern Arizona when we hit up the ghost town of Two Guns in the morning, then Grand Falls in the afternoon.

Two Guns was very close to this structure, but we’re confident it came well after that old town disappeared. “Kamp” used to be an old RV campground and you could still see the areas where those vehicles would park for the night. This building had restrooms in it and might have been the check-in office for the entire place. Now it’s a mess, with a lot of graffiti all over the walls, floors, ceiling and even a nearby empty swimming pool.

As I’ve said before, I love the clouds up in northern Arizona and we definitely got lucky on this day to have them aplenty.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/13, 1/60)