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Imminent

Imminent
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 100, 1/125th, f/8 // buy print)

Nothing I love more than an ominous, impending haboob rolling towards me across a great landscape. This was taken back on July 3rd, 2014, on that big day that ended up being the kickoff special for the monsoon this summer. I snapped this along a dirt road south of Highway 387, which is about five miles or so north of Casa Grande, just east of Interstate 10. It didn’t look like much about 10 minutes before this, but as it neared, the intensity picked up and it became fairly robust looking.

We chased this from its birth south of Picacho Peak, to here along Highway 387, north to Riggs Road and finally as it hit downtown Phoenix. This is also a still frame from a time-lapse I shot, which will be part of my annual summer monsoon film coming out next week hopefully!

 

The end of the road

End of the Road
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 50mm f/1.2, f/8, iso 125, 15 sec // buy print)

I love middle of the road shots…but rarely do I get a chance to have lightning bolts striking at the other end! I sat here for a good 15-20 minutes capturing bolt after bolt…and this turned out to be the best of the bunch.

This was back on August 18th out in Buckeye…a night I’ll always remember because of the amount of lightning that I captured in a span of two hours within a 10 square mile area. I barely moved the entire evening.

The Boise City supercell

The Boise City Supercell
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 2.5 sec // buy print)

I’ve been saving this image for awhile. It was taken during my storm chasing trip in early June of this year…and posting it kind of closes the chapter on that time. And what a time it was for me personally. Capturing that Booker supercell on timelapse and the way it was received turned that trip into one of the most important moments of my life.

And thus…sharing this photograph basically ends what I have to share from those three days. So I’ve been putting it off.

Beyond that though…I love this photo. I almost didn’t want to share it (might be hard to understand). It’s every reason I went out there. To see stuff like this. Yes, the Booker Supercell was incredible. The images of it with the orange backlight are surreal and I’m still astounded that I was there to capture that storm.

But this photo…once I started working on the black and white version of it, I fell in love with it.

Leading up to capturing this image, it felt like the day was going to be a bust. This was the day after Booker. We sat in the eastern Oklahoma Panhandle for most of the day, waiting for something to happen. But we got that target wrong. Storms to our west and northwest, in COLORADO, were going nuts and moving down into the Panhandle.

I take credit for this storm because at one point I said to Andy “F it…we’re going west until we catch those storms or they die out. Let’s go.”

And we blasted west. And we caught up to them.

We did make another mistake though, which was to sit too far to the east of this storm waiting for it to come to us. We definitely should have gotten closer and to the southeast of it right away.

But then I wouldn’t have been able to get this photo I don’t think. As it kept traveling southeast, we went southwest and met up with it right here. Driving down deserted farm roads…I told Andy I had to stop and grab this real quick.

Moments before it hadn’t looked as good as this and then suddenly…bam, this gorgeous supercell with sick structure was hanging over the road.

I couldn’t believe we were seeing one of these again, they very next day after Booker. I’d made three trips before to the plains to chase and had never caught anything remotely close to this and now we struck gold TWO DAYS IN A ROW.

Needless to say…that trip continues to live on in my memory. Not sure any future ones will ever equal it.

But you can always hope.

Bubbles

Bubbles
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 400, f/5.0, 1/40th sec // buy print)

Our third day of storm chasing ended up being the biggest challenge of them all. We ended up being nailed by a haboob/whale’s mouth near Tucumcari, and then spent the next 3 hours or so trying to get south of the storm to no avail. We ended up in Texas and were constantly on the east-southeast side and the inflow was so strong and so dusty, we couldn’t see the road at times, much less the sky.

But on a few occasions the dust cleared and we had this beautiful view of heavy mammatus clouds hanging over us. In Arizona, we get these from time to time, but they don’t look like this…a vast and expansive ceiling of bubbles stretching on for miles.

And the lightning that flashed above seemed to weave its way through the bubbles like a snake. This was taken somewhere near Friona and Hereford in Texas.

Faintly on the horizon in this photo you may get the idea of blowing dust. It was going from left to right and being pulled into the storm like it was being sucked up by a giant vacuum cleaner. I’d never seen anything like it. Just getting this shot took me holding the tripod down as well as being low to the road. Intense winds.

A few more images yet to come from our trip!

Roadside | Oklahoma & Texas

A few weeks ago we found out my wife’s grandfather passed away. Because air fare at the last minute was expensive for our family of four, we decided to drive the 927 miles to Alva, Oklahoma instead.

We had our two kids in the back and it was a long drive, so stopping to get out of the car and take photos was pretty much out of the question. But when we hit Texas and then Oklahoma, we ended up off the Interstate and started passing these old towns with abandoned buildings. I love that kind of stuff and so badly wanted to take some shots.

So I decided to be quick about it. I would roll down the window, stop, take a quick photo, and keep driving. We were already going 35mph so it wasn’t much of a time-suck. Sometimes I didn’t even stop all the way. The train image was actually my wife holding the wheel while I snapped away.

Was fun to do something different. There are some other things here besides buildings, but mostly I was looking for symmetry and decay. Hope you enjoy.

The first five photos were taken on our way there and it was completely foggy and overcast. The rest are from the trip home.

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

Roadside Series

The Grid

Electrical
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 f/2.8 is l, 130mm, iso 400, f/5.6, 12 sec // buy print)

Powerlines and lightning, what could be better?

I captured this along highway 85 south of Buckeye. I actually had given up further south towards Gila Bend, so I was heading home when some storms popped up to my west. I drove on the shoulder a bit to line up my truck with the powerlines and the storm, and setup in the median.

Sometimes you find that perfect composition (or at least the one you want) when you’re chasing storms and then it’s up to God and nature to deliver the final product. Got lucky on this night.

Fork

Fork
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm f/1.4, iso 100, f/5.6, 30 sec // buy print)

I’ve been trying to do some housekeeping this month since it’s been a bit slow and the crazy amount of weddings I have through spring haven’t started yet. I’m a lot better about deleting photos I know I’ll never work on. As time goes by, your feelings change and what you like now might mean you don’t like shots you took then. I’ve gotten last year pretty much cleaned and so I went back to 2011.

And found this little guy sitting there with 4 stars meaning I intended to edit it someday and never did. At the time the reason was that I already had two other shots from this angle that were downright rad. But when I saw this one…I was like, this guy is rad too, why did he get left out?

Processed it over the weekend and am dropping it now. This is on Gilbert Road south of Hunt Highway taken on September 10th, 2011. The lightning was super intense on this storm that battered Chandler. Was an awesome night.

Haboob crossing

Crossing the Road
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 100, 1/200th // buy print)

Yeah, I love road shots to death…not much I can do about that. So snagging one with a large haboob crossing just a little ways to the south was a fun catch.

This is Toltec Road near Eloy…I loved the light here with the sun going down. Nice long shadow across the road. Also that low sun really brought out the texture in this old highway, not to mention highlighting the dust cloud itself.

Have a lot planned this coming summer and it’s going to be a busy one. Cannot wait.

A thunderstorm near Sunset Point

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200mm 2.8 is l, 70mm, f/5.6, iso 400, 30 sec // buy print)

Being gone from Arizona for seven days usually means you miss a heck of a lot of sunshine. But last week was different. Sky Harbor Airport received measurable rainfall FOUR straight days. That hasn’t happened since 2008 per my buddy Royal Norman. The storms were nuts, all over and I certainly missed out on a killer start to the monsoon season.

But vacation was great, it was needed and I wouldn’t change a thing.

That being said, when I landed last night at 10pm, and saw storms going nuts to the north, I decided to watch things a bit to see if I could actually chase. Around 12:30am I headed out and ended up around the Sunset Point rest area. The lightning wasn’t earth-shattering awesome, but one of my favorite things is being able to see an entire storm cloud get lit up at night. Things had been pretty quiet in this direction for about 20 minutes and then suddenly the cloud got intense and strikes started happening.

This is one.

Glad to be back, can’t wait to make up for lost time!

 

A lightning strike near Eloy

A lightning strike near Eloy, Arizona

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/16, iso 250, 5 sec // buy print)

July 3rd felt like the first real day of storm chasing. We were out late in the afternoon, watched a cell build up and drop a bunch of rain near Casa Grande, even helped some people who flipped their car they hydroplaned on Interstate 8.

Yeah, that accident was a bit surreal to say the least. We missed it by roughly 10 seconds, and by the time I pulled over to help, the couple was crawling out of their vehicle. But their Honda was upside down in the median. Crazy. The girl called her mother first, so I called  911. They were totally fine.

Later on, the sun went down and the sky got dark. I had planned to hit Tucson, but the storms right here in Eloy were perfect. Finally was able to shoot some lightning via long exposure for the first time this year. Always a good feeling.

Got a couple of okay images, nothing earth shattering, but here’s one from the night.

Hoping to get a few more days in before Sunday when we hit our week-long vacation to Missouri.