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Blue Canyon

Never edited this guy back from September 2017 up at the Grand Canyon…mostly because of a big water spot, but I cropped it out and decided it was worth posting! This was the end of a wonderful 24 hours up at the Canyon, my best time up there in six years of trying. The day before there was lightning in the afternoon, then sunset and finally later at night right out over the ditch. I slept in the truck knowing more storms were set for the next day and sure enough, severe cells with hail exploded and moved across the Canyon during the late morning, capping off a fantastic trip.

Chuar Butte

The Grand Canyon has been an elusive prey. I’ve made countless trips up there the past few years trying to get lightning on a good storm and been skunked every time. Last year I finally got a downburst right in front of me…but no bolts. A few years before I got some strikes out on the Little Colorado plateau, but nothing in the Canyon itself. Always a long trip to come home with little success.

Well that all finally ended Friday, and it was with this shot that I didn’t even know I had captured until I was going through images in Lightroom. A perfect thunderstorm with a beautiful little strike hitting smack in the middle of an island plateau on the eastern side of the Canyon. I squealed a little bit when I saw this 🙂

The time-lapse of this storm exploding and dumping rain will be cool too, super stoked to have come away not only with some great stuff, but to have spent the entire day with my kiddos as well was well worth the time and sunburns!

Mist and Water

Every year my buddies Jay, Jason, Andrew, Aaron and I go on a road trip somewhere. The previous two have been in Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. We call these little excursions “Lost//Discovered.” The name implies a feeling of getting lost from our normal lives and discovering something about ourselves. Be it passion, direction or literally anything. It’s one of my favorite times of year and this past trip was another fantastic time!

This time we decided to fly to Oregon and rent our RV there, and just explore whatever seemed fun to us. The coast, waterfalls, mountains, anything we could get to. It’s a time of year when we all have a lot less going on in our businesses photographing weddings, and it’s the perfect time to get away, explore and hang out.

These trips are often tough for me. Often at this point in the year, I just need a break and while I want to time-lapse and drone everything I see, I’ll also wish I could just carry a single camera and lens, and just stand there quietly capturing the scenes around me. It’s a battle within. Sometimes I didn’t do anything and other times I made a choice between droning or time-lapsing. I love that I didn’t do a whole lot but walked away with some scenes I’m super pumped to have photographed.

This film is short, barely three minutes, and doesn’t have a ton of scenes. I love this song “No Place on Earth” but Tony Anderson, and so I just let the notes dictate the number of clips I used. It’s a mix of drone and time-lapse of random spots in Oregon. But every shot contains either mist or water, which is pretty much why I was craving Oregon in the first place. We were hoping for foggy conditions, waterfalls, waves, the ocean and anything akin to that. Even frozen Trillium Lake covered in snow had a low fog slightly obscuring Mt. Hood. The light was amazing the morning of our second day from Ecola State Park, and I gobbled that up.

Equipment included two Canon 5DSR’s and a Phantom 3 Pro. Time-lapse clips rendered in After Effects, and the final film edited in Premiere Pro. I used the Lumetri Color effect to do simple editing of the drone footage.

Hope you enjoy!

Overflow at Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake Overflow
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/18, manual exp blend // buy print)

Anytime is rains in Phoenix must seem hilarious to the rest of the world. The local news show pictures of running water down gutters, rain drops in puddles and of course you have guys like me blabbing on Twitter about his rain gauge. The amount of rain we deal with is so tiny compared to a lot of other places in the country that everyone else much think we’re just silly.

But you gotta remember…this is the desert, we only average just over eight inches of rain per year in Phoenix. And this past Friday-Sunday my house has seen 1.39 inches in just a few days! That’s a lot for us.

And when is does that out here, things flood, washes run and cool stuff happens. Like in the photo above…the Tempe Town Lake Dam. If you aren’t local, you may not be able to see it right off the bat, but the dam is actually made of giant inflatable rubber tubes.  Each section is 240 feet long and over an inch in thickness. They are durable against UV rays, ripping, etc. and can be deflated/re-inflated in 15 minutes.

This dam is located on the Salt River right in the heart of Tempe, Arizona and creates a little recreational lake for us. But when we get tons of rain, sometimes water is released from the major dams further upstream in the mountains, or runoff from city drainage can cause the lake to start filling up.

This is a sight you don’t see too often. I actually am not sure if the dam itself was lowered at all or is this is just how much water is coming from upstream. Either way, it was a beautiful sight to see against the stormy skies we had last night.

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.

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)

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)

 

The Mighty Colorado

(click on the image for a lightbox version with a sexy dark frame)

I’d toss this into more of an abstract category that I like to do from time to time. Some of you know I was inspired a bit by the black and white work of Mitch Dobrowner and so from time to time I like to process my landscapes/stormscapes with a very stylized B&W treatment.

After my drive through El Dorado canyon last week outside of Las Vegas, I parked and walked down a wash to the Colorado River. The desert around this area was pretty stark. I mostly liked the mountains across the river and how the fading sunlight was falling on them.

I wanted to get a bit closer to the mountains so I used my 50mm 1.4 and slapped every ND filter I had on it, but they only added up to about 6-stops so I could only get around 10-12 seconds at f/22 before it was over-exposed.

Still, it gave the water an interesting texture anyways…so much so that when I processed it in B&W, it almost started to look less like water and more like some weird landscape.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/22, iso 100, 10 seconds)

 

HDR Tennis: Match 7

I participate in a group of awesome photographers that take a set of brackets from one of us and then process it in our own creative way. Then we post the results and get fans on our Facebook page to vote and choose which one they like the best. Fans of the page can also download the brackets and put their spin on it at all. A little friendly competition is good and healthy, and definitely a lot more fun when you WIN!

We call it HDR Tennis and the image above was my entry…which turned out to be the winning one and I’m proud of that. It’s a tough group…a very tough group and thus nailing an image that people love just a bit more than the others is an accomplishment.

The brackets were donated by Peter Talke and are obviously of Big Ben in London. The original 0 bracket is below.

I processed it all using onOne Software after I did the tonemapping in Photomatix. Used a couple of filters to bring out shadows and details, then converted it to B&W and then applied a textured border from PhotoFrame to finish the image. Immediately when I saw the original picture I knew I wanted to make it look like an old postcard if I could.

The hardest part was choosing the right frame from the literally hundreds and hundreds of options that onOne gives you.

You can see the other entries in our Facebook album right here.

Revisiting the Grand Falls in northern Arizona

Some of you may remember a photo or two I posted from my trip to Grand Falls in May…I posted a few shots of it…one here and one here.  I think I processed this one as a black and white first and posted it in a few  random places, like Flickr and JPG Mag. But I was looking back through my photos the other day and realized I’d always wanted to see this one as an HDR and just forgot about it.

I love the scope and details that you can see in the shot. Clicking on the photos for the larger version takes away some of the sharpness, but the details are still there.

What’s interesting about the falls is all the junk that is collected in the lower left portion of the photo. Most of what you can see are from trees and dead foliage captured along the way, but there are definitely some “man-made” objects down there as well.

This is definitely a place I plan on revisiting next March, hopefully after a nice, snowy season for the high country. The flow over the Falls when it’s peak is pretty amazing from what I’ve seen in photos. I need to see that in person.