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Colossal

A monster supercell begins to cross highway 385 south of Lamar, Colorado. We had raced north as the rain began to hit us, and we stopped after a few miles to take in the view of this incredible storm and that stunning blue-green hailcore.

This panoramic has been sitting on my computer in seven pieces because up until yesterday, I’ve had zero luck stitching it together. I tried everything…Photoshop, Lightroom, third party pano apps…nothing worked. Not sure why, but major fails on every attempt.

But I updated to the latest Photoshop CC over the weekend and decided to try one more time…and BAM, it worked! Couldn’t believe my eyes.

I’ve been dying to get this thing together, because it’s one of my favorites last year and maybe all-time. Such a beastly supercell south of Lamar, Colorado on May 24th, 2015. Beautiful structure, gorgeous green hail core and toss in the road/cars to give it some scale.

We had been a few miles south watching it approach us, and then we had to race north as the rain/hail began to hit us. We stopped after a few miles to take in this incredible view before continuing on to keep in front of it.

Spring is just around the corner…

Angry

Angry
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 1/6th sec // buy print)

April 16th turned out pretty amazing across the Texas Panhandle…such a long, six-hour chase and so many views of different supercells. This was the one that produced a tornado earlier near Groom. At this point the radar velocity was intense right up ahead along this road. This was as close as I wanted to get because of the rain and the intensity of the rotation. You can see how low the clouds are in there, how angry this storm looks. The blue color in the clouds is hail.

More to come from this day!

Near Cordes Junction

Near Cordes Junction
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2 l, f/8, iso 100, 15 sec // buy print)

I’ve discovered a love for lightning up north of Phoenix between Sunset Point and Camp Verde. The storms always seem intense up there and the lightning was crazy again last night.

I arrived a bit too late for the entire show, but I managed to capture a couple of strikes over the hills northeast of Cordes Junctions.

Usually I want to find an area with a clear view of landscapes without any man-made objects in the way…but you can always help that and I actually dig the way the powerlines balance out the bottom of the image above.

 

A Colorado gust front

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, iso400, 1/250th // buy print)

Gust fronts are pretty cool to see. What you see in the photo above is akin to a tidal wave that has passed over you, heading for somewhere else. That hard edge is the front and all the creepy clouds behind it are in its wake.

These are also known as outflow boundaries, which is what we see A TON of here in Arizona during the summers. Except ours usually include a giant wall of dust to go with it. Out on the Colorado plains, there was some dust, but mostly you just had crazy strong winds and a wicked sky.

My wife Jina loved this image and picked up on something I didn’t…the juxtaposition of the green wheat and the dead field on the other side of the road.  I was there, so it didn’t stand out to me as much as the clouds did. I find it hilarious what I can miss in my own images…God bless my wife.

Not too long ago I picked up a cheap-o Rokinon 14mm manual focus lens to use for timelapsing while stormchasing this summer. With an extra body now for weddings, I’d like to be able to timelapse and take normal photos with two wide angle lenses at the same time. Shouldn’t have sold the old Tamron 17-35, but I did when I bought the Canon 17-40.

Anyways, since this lens is not only manual focus, but also a manual aperture, I don’t remember what f-stop I was at for this! But regardless, I love the lens…so crazy wide, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

 

Along Bush Highway

I tend to get out of my car a lot when stormchasing. I suppose that part is obvious. Of course, it can also depend on conditions. I may end up driving an hour just to get somewhere before I find the need to take a photo. Or I can stop every two miles along a beautiful stretch of highway and still have an endless supply of scenery to shoot.

Now, because summer isn’t here yet, I use the word “stormchasing” loosely. Mostly I’m just out shooting pictures before/during/after we get anything that involves rain or clouds. So it’s not really chasing anything…other than that next masterpiece of a photo I expect to take.

On this particular instance, I was out of my car along this stretch of Bush Highway because believe it or not, I had spotted some wild horses meandering through the desert. I know they exist, but it’s definitely rare to see them. Without the 70-200mm that I’d love to have someday, my biggest zoom lens right now is my 85mm 1.8. On a full-frame, it’s not awesome, but I slapped it on hoping to get a bit up close to these horses.

I nabbed a few shots, but the ponies were far off and quickly moved on. When I turned back to the car, I saw the road heading off in the distance and thought it might look kind of nifty with the 85 and a wide open aperture.

I used FocalPoint to help accentuate the blur in the foreground and off in the distance, which helped finish off the vision I had in my head when I took the shot. Simple B&W processing.

The thing about racing to the next storm or the next scenic view is that you end up flying past cool stuff. If I hadn’t been stopped to see the horses, I undoubtedly would have not scene the road in the same way I did standing alongside it.

I definitely treasure those moments when I stop and see something I didn’t expect.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/2.0, iso 100, 1/640 sec)

A random dirt road near the San Tans

Dead corn stalks, weeds, brown dirt, powerlines, contrails caused by airplanes overhead, mid-day sun…nothing beautiful here right?

Ah, trick question…of course it’s beautiful! This is my old stomping grounds…Gilbert Road, the San Tan Mountains in the distance…I’d sit here and look for sunsets, lightning, clouds, whatever.

I shot this back in December of last year but never really processed it until a few weeks ago. I went out that day because I had recently discovered how much the HDR process can reveal in a daytime sky filled with airplane contrails. When you stand out there with the glaring sun…it’s hard to make out the clouds. A single snap of the frame gives you the mountains and road…but the sky is obliterated. HDR allows you to pull in those awesome lines and let them interact with your foreground.

Hope you guys enjoy this one…it’s special to me for some reason. I just love the lines…the road disappearing along with the powerlines…the clouds zig-zagging…so glad I went back and found this guy.

Some photos with the new lens

Thanks to some wonderful graduation gift cards and money, I was able to purchase a new lens for my camera. It was a 50mm 1.4f (I know, what???) and is a great lens for portraits, low-light situations and many other types of pictures. It’s super-clear and has an amazing bokeh or “blurry” factor with objects behind your main area of focus.

Anyways, here are a few shots with this lens…nothing spectacular, although I do love the broken green bottle shot.

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