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Monsoon chasing on the Apache Trail

This is a little bit of an older shot taken about a month ago in July. I really wanted to post the sunset photo from last night, but I’m having trouble with getting the colors to show up correctly once I upload them to the web, so I’m not sure what’s going on there. Any help or advice would be appreciated.

I took this photo on the Apache Trail road when I was out stormchasing with my buddy Brian. I thought the powerlines would ruin the shot, but for some reason I like them, along with the road of course. Have you not yet realized my love for those double-yellow lines disappearing down black asphalt paths?

I mainly took this because of the monsoon cloud off in the distance…it had a cool look to it, was more dreamy than scary and it had a little bit of rain falling from the bottom.

Downpour over the San Tan Mountains

I’ve been wanting to get a shot like this all summer. I hope to get another. A storm cloud, kind of isolated, dropping rain on the desert and you can see everything from the ground to the top of the cloud. There is something amazing about seeing a giant, floating cumulus cloud with rain falling from the bottom. Almost like the rain is holding the entire contraption up in the air.

I could have gotten a shot without the road or powerlines (and I did), but I like the way the lines from each create a little perspective on just how far away the cloud is and how big it is.

We’ll be moving in the next 60 days or so and it’s going to be hard to not have wide open areas like this available by a simple 12 minute drive from my house. This is the Gila River Indian nation land and it’s been so very kind to me when out chasing storms.

Canyon Lake Monsoon Panoramic

Sometimes it’s hard to capture all the detail you want in a single image, so you have to go for the panoramic. I definitely recommend clicking on the photo to see the larger version. This picture is from my recent stormchasing adventure with my buddy Bryan. We drove down Apache Trail towards Canyon Lake and stopped just a little short of it to climb to the top of this hill to see what we could see.

Yes, I’ll verify that Bryan warned me that we were watching an approaching monsoon thunderstorm and the hill we chose to shoot from also had a couple of giant supports for powerlines on it, but that’s for the faint of heart to worry about!

What we loved about this spot was the color of the hills in contrast to stormy skies in the background. The sunlight from behind us still shown a little on them and it made for an awesome sight. You can see Canyon Lake on the left, with a massive downpour behind it. Some more rain is falling just behind the hills in the center of the photo, and the entire storm was moving slowly towards us.

By the time we climbed down and drove a little more, it started pouring pretty good.

Those hills and mountains around the Superstitions really created some amazing vistas to use when photographing our beautiful monsoons season here in Arizona. Hoping to get out there again sometime soon.

For those interested, this is a merge of three HDR shots created from three-bracketed images each.

An old feed mill in Ogalalla, Nebraska

I have a feeling that if you dumped me in Nebraska for a week, I’d still come home wishing I had snapped just a few more photos.

If you follow my work, you know I stormchased in Nebraska a few weeks ago. I drove from Denver to Ogalalla, Nebraska late at night to set up for the storms the following day. Never heard of this town, never been there before obviously, and it was just the next stop on the road with hotels and me dying for sleep at 2am.

The next day I had a lot of time to sit around waiting for storms to pop, so I drove around this little old area of Ogalalla. This feed mill was abandoned and awesome. The clouds of course made me giddy to snap brackets for some HDR photos and the mill itself was a beautiful white color despite some old, rusty areas.

I love the overpass behind it, a place I ended up wandering to after taking this picture. I also have a couple of other shots of the mill, a little closer with more detail.

The light rail bridge in Tempe, AZ

I’ve been playing around a bit with my HDR processing methods after snapping photos in downtown Tempe Saturday night. I was ending up with a lot of noise in my shots and had to find alternative ways of getting the job done.

This one above was in the same boat, but I ended up loving how it looked anyways. There is a lot of “grain” as I like to call it in the shot above. The sky, the clouds, the underneath of the bridge…all have a lot of dirty noise going on. I felt it looked a little more abstract than normal. So instead of processing it like normal, I ended up trying to embrace what I was given.

It works here for me. The clouds were moving fast, you can see the trees on the left look like they were blowing around pretty good. I lowered the saturation of the original HDR photo and masked in bits and pieces of an original raw shot.

I hated it at first because the colors were dominating the shot and there was gobs of noise, but just dropping the saturation gave it a whole other atmosphere. I love the grain, which is something I work very hard against in most of my other HDR photos. Experimenting today with something different…let the noise be your friend.

A lot of techno babble, but it was a tough group of photos to process. I left my photowalk not loving the shots I got, so being able to turn any of them into something I actually love has been a triumphant struggle.

Aside from all the post-processing talk, I just loved the composition of the shot. The bridge coming from overhead and behind, plus the curved road in front of me. I timed it to make sure I got a some headlights going around the bend, but it wasn’t s super-busy road. The clouds in the sky were hard to see with the naked eye, but a 30-second exposure really created something with a little motion to it.

Sunset on the ol’ railroad tracks

I’ve taken quite a few photographs from this spot over the last 6 months. It’s amazing to think it’s only about 2 miles from my house (for now, until we move). I rarely try to dip from the same well more than once, but this place is fond to me. And I do try to go there for different reasons when I do.

And as far as I know, they are rarely, if ever, used because I’ve stood there for a long time and never have seen a train.

Last night we had some rainy-ish looking clouds roll through and while there appeared to be stuff falling from them, it seems to be only virga that never hit the ground.

The lines of the rails never goes in the direction of the setting sun, so I sat there praying the virga would be ignited by the final gasps of sunlight, and while I wasn’t completely disappointed, it definitely didn’t pop the way I’d hoped.

Click on the photo for a larger view.

Technobabble: Two, 3-bracket HDRs merged in photoshop.