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A lamp post in Winslow, Arizona

(Click to view larger or fit to your screen depending on your resolution)

This is set to be a crazy week for me. In Vegas for work until Wednesday night, then we’re off to Memphis for a family vacation on Thursday.  Lots of plane rides, driving…but I can’t wait to see the rest of our fam in Tennessee.

And who knows…maybe the failure to find storms last week will someone materialize while I’m in Memphis right?

This is another photograph from our trip up north to Two Guns/Grand Falls back on April 2nd. The clouds were just stupendous that day and they helped enhance almost any picture we took. We stopped by Winslow on our little trip and explored some random areas in town. I loved this lamp post, but mainly because of those fluffy white things floating in the sky.

(exif info: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, f/16, 27mm, 1/50th)

Into the West

(to see the image larger or so it fits into your screen resolution, have a click-see)

It’s been awhile since I posted any images from our trip up to the abandoned ghost town of Two Guns, Arizona. First off, you gotta love a name like that. If there was ever a contest to name an old west town in Arizona…that has to be up at the top.

I will say, the structures left behind at Two Guns weren’t exactly what you’d picture seeing if you heard “ghost town”. Normally you’d think of old wooden saloons, stables, whatever. At least, that’s what floats into my head. But Two Guns was pretty much made up entirely of old stone walls and wooden support beams where they still existed. And only one or two places still had a roof up.

The windows became obvious culprits in framing some of our shots. My buddy Ken Peterson posted a photograph from a different spot last week. I liked this little lone tree-ish looking thing up on the cliff through the window in this room. I tried it with my 50mm at first, but it proved lacking. I dig how my wide angle brought in not only the window, but the lack of a roof.

Title of this post was taken from the soundtrack of Return of the King.

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

Seraphim Falls

(image can be viewed larger with a sweet black border if you click on it. you know you want to…)

Coming up with a title for this image for Movie Title Wednesday was kind of difficult. Most of the movies that came to mind I either didn’t remember much about, or really didn’t think fit too well. My wife liked Legends of the Fall, but I think I’ll save that for when the leaves change down the road. There was The Grand, or The Majestic…or even one that seems to fit perfectly…A River Runs Through It. But again, I don’t remember much about it other than Brad Pitt was in it and that I was a senior in high school! Ack! There was also The River Wild with Meryl Streep…but I didn’t like that either.

In the endSeraphim Falls was the title. I highly doubt most of you have seen it, but it’s definitely worth renting. Pierce Brosnan is hiding in the Rocky Mountains just after the Civil War has ended and Liam Neeson is a Confederate Colonel who wants the man killed to avenge a wrong. It all goes back to something that happened at Seraphim Falls…which you eventually discover.

I loved the title of the movie when I first heard it. I wanted to make it fit here but wasn’t quite sure EXACTLY what Seraphim meant, so I looked it up and was pumped when it has a rough translation of “burning ones.” Sure, it’s kind of a stretch, but when you think of a sunset and the fiery red skies you tend to get…it works.

Last weekend I got up at 3am to meet three other photogs to go up north and shoot all day. Despite all the fun I had and the pictures I took…this one shot above of Grand Falls was my entire reason for going. I’m not saying this about the photograph itself, but more about the scene.  Ever since I visited for the first time last year and had boring blue skies, I’ve been dreaming of getting back there and capturing a gorgeous sunset. It was like the entire day boiled down to this span of five minutes when the sky changed color.

The fact that we even got color was amazing. The sun was stuck behind some very thick clouds and as it got darker and darker…I thought that was it. Nothing was coming through that. And then suddenly in the northeast the clouds turned red. My heart jumped. I started waving at the other guys to point it out. People started moving around excitedly. Slowly the color moved westward until…for what was probably less than a minute…the sky looked as it did in the photo above.

Then it was gone.

I loved the day, loved the time spent with friends and especially loved that my wife and daughter were up there to share this with me.  Last year’s trip was exciting, but this one will be the one I remember always.

(of course, until I go back next year…have some fun ideas for 2012)

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/10, iso 200)

 

We Are Here

(Looks even more abandoned by clicking to view in lightbox. It also may help finding the title of the image a bit easier)

Saturday was awesome.  I mean, yes, the agreed upon meeting time was 3:45AM…but it was still all kinds of fun.

Pretty much all on time (except for me who needed some Tums after a harrowing night of America’s Tacos, Killians Red and ice cream), my buddies Ken Peterson, Rick Young and Chris Frailey met me up at Carefree Highway and I-17, ready  and geared up for an all-day, epic adventure in northern Arizona. The plan was to hit the ghost town of Two Guns around sunrise, shoot random stuff all morning, eat lunch and then trek out to Grand Falls for the afternoon.

And that we did and it was fantastic. Had a blast hanging out, shooting, goofing off, making fun of each other and generally being in photography heaven.

This image above looks nothing like a ghost town, although it’s definitely not been lived in for awhile. The structure belongs to an old motor home camp site that was just a few hundred feet away from what remained of Two Guns.

The thing about northern Arizona are the wide open, beautifully blue skies that mix with gorgeous clouds. I rarely shoot a landscape when there aren’t clouds involved and I loved the way these kind of framed the “A-Frame” structure. Like my shot on Monday of Grand Falls…this image was made possible by my handy-dandy circular polarizer.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/13, iso 100, 1/80 sec, circular polarizer)

 

 

Grand Falls: A short little video

(Make sure to watch the video in 1080p glory!)

As promised, I put together a short little video on Grand Falls from our trip this past Saturday. If you watch it on YouTube, you’ll see a lot of links to other Grand Falls videos, some of which really show the power of the Falls when they are at peak flow. I think this is probably the only HD video of Grand Falls out there, but I really hope to someday capture them going nuts like in some of those others.

The Falls are just amazing. I hope the video gives you a better impression as to the scale of them, because it’s not always easy to tell from a simple photograph. My daughter did her best impression of a foreground object and I think it helps a lot *grin*

Next year I plan on doing a lot more video and also hopefully a long time-lapse. This was the first time using my 5D Mark II for video and sadly there’s a nice dust spot on the lens (My Tamron 17-35mm 2.8), plus some herky-jerky movements. Hopefully it doesn’t induce any motion sickness for you all.

I have to say…I do love the quality of the HD video though…pretty remarkable. Can’t wait to dig into it more. Will be using it to document some of my stormchasing adventures this summer.

The Grand Falls

(click on the image to see it full size or at least fit your screen for we with smaller resolutions)

Saturday a bunch of us, including photographers, wives and my little girl, all ventured up to northern Arizona to see the annual, gorgeous display at Grand Falls. The Falls don’t flow all year for the most part, they are the result of snow melt in the early spring or flash floods during major rainstorms.

I need to get to bed and have an early, early Monday morning trip to Vegas where I’ll be all week, but I wanted to post this shot from our trip. The day was absolutely perfect except for some very windy conditions. The clouds were magnificent and the skies a dark, rich blue. I don’t know what it is about northern Arizona, but with the clarity and richness in those skies, a circular polarizer is your best friend.

Lots more to come from the trip…including a gorgeous sunset and some high-def video of the Falls themselves, so you out-of-state-ers can get a better idea of the size and scale of this place. It’s absolutely a must-see.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/10, iso 100, 1/125sec, circular polarizer)

The golden treetops

I have a client at work (my day job) that resides in northern Arizona. Whenever they call to have me come up, I never curse the three hour drive…I relish it and enjoy the time I get to spend seeing this beautiful state. I usually leave around 4am and thus usually find myself at an interesting spot for a sunrise, or maybe a few places for night photography, and then a bazillion other things along the way.

Yesterday I made a trip up there and I was on the lookout for fall colors. I spotted a 10,000 foot mountain nearby and saw an entire hillside covered in golden Aspen…so I asked my client if there was a way to the top and she  said YUP! So I headed down the dirt road to the top and explored a few trails that led to these amazingly tall, golden treetops.

I have never photographed fall colors before…so this is all new to me. I knew I wanted some vertical shots of tree tops and other things, so this is basically a few attempt at that. For those wondering, it’s a single exposure HDR. I actually tried doing 6 exposures, then 3…but too much movement killed it. Plus…the colors just didn’t look right. Tried the single…and bam, it came together.

Hope you enjoy a little taste of fall from Arizona!

Flight of the Navigator

Okay, I had two choices tossing around in my head for the title today in my weekly Movie Title Wednesday post. The first was obviously Close Encounters, but it’s so overdone and overused whenever someone has a picture of a spaceship-like cloud formation. So I skipped it.

Flight of the Navigator…wow, for some reason this was a movie that made an impact on me growing up. Maybe it was the idea of a kid being whisked away, his parents having no idea he, ahem, traveled through time, and now appears to them eight years later, not having aged at all and they all thought he was dead. Maybe it was the sci-fi angle and I’m sure I loved that kind of stuff even back then. I had to look up when this film came out…1986…yikes, I was 11. I don’t think I had a clue who Paul Ruebens was back then, but he was the voice of the spaceship. Crazy.

Wow, and as I’m typing this, I remembered the line, “Compliance!

Anyways, this photo kind of reminded me of the spaceship in the movie and how it would convert from a sort of oval blob to a stretched out, sleek looking speed machine. This was yet another photo from my trip to northern Arizona back in May, a journey that seems to have yielded an endless supply of brackets for me to return to again and again. The clouds were fun that day and this guy was a storm that was fading out…and it just hovered over the ground like some giant space vessel.

An old, rusty water trough

This shot is from way back in May of this year. Sometimes I take brackets, smash them into an HDR shot, they end up being removed from my laptop to save disk space and get lost on my backup drives until I stumble across them eventually. I was browsing my HDR library on the backup disk last night and found this little guy sitting there.

Yet another gorgeous scene from my trip to Northern Arizona. This was on the way to Grand Falls and I just had to turnaround, drive down a dirt road in the rain in my little two-door and hope I didn’t get stuck anywhere. My only wish looking back is that I had my 17-35mm for this and had gotten a little closer to the water trough.

At least, I think it’s a water trough…the little bucket in the front appeared to be able to hold liquid, there were cow prints around and it seemed to serve no other purpose. I loved the rust and graffiti on it in contrast with the sort of smooth terrain around it and the stormy skies.

Down that dark road

I’m lucky to have a few great friends at work and one of them is Jesse. He’s a car guy, loves to go “wheeling” every Friday night and would go out of his way to help you install a new car stereo, not to mention a bazillion other things. A week or so ago we had to drive up to Williams for work, which is something we love doing despite the 3-3.5 hour drive time. Especially in the summer when it’s 110 in Phoenix, but a cool 75-80 in the gorgeous pine country of northern Arizona. He’s such a good guy and let me pull over a bunch to satisfy my insatiable hunger to photograph cool stuff.

As a photographer, you sometimes get tunnel vision. It happens to me all the time. You get an idea in your head about a shot and you focus all efforts on making it happen. That’s usually when a shot you weren’t even planning on taking becomes the actual reason you went there.

Once we were up close to Williams, we passed a giant lake bed full of flowers. I posted that shot not too long ago. The thing was, I was so infatuated with the flowers and storm clouds, I wasn’t looking anywhere else. As I came back to the car, Jesse calmly points out this dirt road heading into the trees. Me, being the AWESOME photographer that I am, who knows ALL…said “Yeah…okay Jesse…looks cool.” So I walked over there to snap some brackets, almost feeling like I was doing this as a courtesy because at least Jess was trying to help me out a little. Figured I would just get the brackets real quick and we’d be on our way.

Back in the car when I looked at the results in my camera…I realized it was going to be one of my favorite shots from the day and maybe in awhile. I knew right away I’d do it in black and white.  It would end up looking much more mysterious devoid of color.  I was giddy thinking about what the final product was going to look like. This is a 6-bracket HDR using Photomatix, CS5 and Nik Silver Efex for the B&W.

I guess the moral of the story is to always listen to your buddy Jessie.  He may be obsessed with Family Guy and wear his sunglasses at night (inside joke), but when he points out an idea for a photo…you’d damn well better do what he says.