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Intensity

A new image I never edited from September 5th, 2017…one of the most spectacular monsoon scenes I’ve personally experienced…the light was so intense from the setting sun, so magical…the color out of control, that I just stood there in awe. Toss in a rainbow, gorgeous desert cactus and shrubs and a strong downburst over Organ Pipe and it was almost too much haha.

Missing this stuff.

Bathed in Light

I must be learning how to be more patient these days, or at least, maybe finally realizing I can’t be on every storm, so might as well do the best I can with what I got. I was way down south yesterday, near Santa Rosa and Pisinemo with some really nice storms, but I had a bad feeling that they wouldn’t last into the night. At the same time, I see a nice line moving into Phoenix and realized I’m probably hosed.

In the past, I may have turned around and raced back home in a panic, but yesterday I stuck it out, got in front of the storms moving towards Organ Pipe and saw some of that magical monsoon light that shows why it’s special to chase out here.
Only captured two lightning strikes yesterday, this was the first and made the entire trip worth it. The rain was cresting the peaks, the sun was blazing on the desert landscape and it was all stunning. There is a little rainbow behind the left saguaro, plus an even fainter second one near the bolt. That Organ Pipe area has really grown on me this year. Always something awesome happening out that way.

And now it’s bed time. I had a time-lapse/photo gig at PIR shooting DC Solar construction lighting equipment at 1am this morning and got home around 5:30. Haven’t slept at all! Time to crash!

Drift

An incredibly cooll scene out at the Four Peaks on July 1st, 2016. Strong winds push a dumping hail core way out ahead of the updraft and on top of the Four Peaks Mountain Range.

One of the coolest things I’ve seen during the monsoon in Arizona. The tower on the left was an incredible updraft that I got to see explode upwards, and then the hail started falling…but strong winds took the downdraft and pushed it southeastward over the Four Peaks. Not sure I’ve seen anything like that…Tim Marshall called it a “hail drift”, which sounds about right 🙂 I got the entire genesis of it on time-lapse too, so that will mostly undoubtedly make the final edit of Monsoon III, whenever that comes out!

Killer chase yesterday, ending on Interstate 8 with a fantastic lightning show. Today I switch gears to shoot an intimate wedding in the Red Rocks of Sedona!

Forked

A lightning bolt lands in the Four Peaks Wilderness area northeast of Phoenix, seeming to fork into two directions at the last minute as it strikes the side of a mountain.

A cakewalk chase yesterday…spent over 90 minutes at this spot just off the Beeline Highway where it intersects with Bush Highway. A storm to my north built up and died, then storms to our east went up and the lightning display after sunset was gorgeous. Here’s one of my favorites…always love being able to see where a strike hits the ground, it adds so much more dimension to a photo.

Today begins a hectic few weeks of July for me, as two film companies will be out attempting to capture dust storms. One crew from Japan, one from England. I’m a consulting on both projects, although I’ll also be filmed as part of the one from Japan. Stoked to be a part of them, but it’s gonna be crazy. Doing location scouting today and tomorrow. Today may actually give us a dust storm if things pan out!

Josh & Carol’s Engagement Session along the Salt River

These two are getting married on April 2nd…about time we get these engagement photos blogged! Can’t wait for the big day!

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Star Wars

A few days ago I decided to get some buddies together to go shoot the Geminid Meteors for the peak of the shower Sunday into Monday. We met up in Organ Pipe in far southern Arizona and enjoyed some dark skies and one of the most active meteor showers I've ever seen! Got home and took this morning to put this image together...it's a stack/blend of about 25 meteors put into one photo. This is part of a time-lapse sequence as well, shot at f/2.8, 20 seconds and ISO 5000.

I heard about the Geminid Meteors being at their peak Sunday into Monday, so I called around to a few buddies this weekend in an effort to drag them out with me somewhere remote so I’d have a few meat shields in case of attack from crazy peeps. We decided to do Organ Pipe south of Ajo since Greg McCown lives in Tucson and it was sorta central for us. Keith Kessler and Davo Laninga, who took my Monsoon workshop a few years ago, also joined me! So great to hang with these dudes. Organ Pipe is stunning. Saguaro everywhere. We got there and meteors were all over the place in most directions. It was nuts. But at first the cameras just weren’t picking them them, so I got discouraged. Still, I cranked the ISO to 5000 and we sat in the truck with the heat blasting for a couple of hours…and when stopped my little time-lapse, I found all these crazy meteors scattered throughout the photos.

Here’s a stacked photo of a bunch of images amounting to roughly 25 meteors. This isn’t anything new, I’ve seen lots of stacked meteor shots and I wanted to give it a shot. I love the way it turned out, but hope to get more practice down the road. I just learned some new techniques for noise and editing of Milky Way shots, hoping to up my game down the road…but for now, hope you enjoy!

Near Wickenburg

Near Wickenburg
(please click image to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 19mm, iso 200, f/11, 10 sec // buy print)

This was a storm I’ll always remember. I’m driving west along Highway 74 and notice a little blip on my radar just south of me, parallel to my direction. Suddenly a flash explodes in that direction, I slam on the brakes, pull over and whip out my cameras.

And then nail a few bolts right there in front of me, just after sunset. There were taken with a 17mm lens, giving you an idea how close it was.

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!

 

Fingers

Fingers
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/10, iso 200, 15 sec // buy print)

Judging from the light on the little hill on the horizon plus the 35mm lens I was using, this bolt hit fairly close to my position…maybe a mile or two away.

This was another shot from July 31st out near Wickenburg along Highway 74. That night was one of the most intense lightning chases I’ve ever been on. More to come, even a couple that actually hit that little hilltop!

Over Whittman

Over Whitmann
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 200, f/11, 10 sec // buy print)

The night of July 31st was one of the best nights I’ve ever had shooting lightning. Hours of non-stop action, sometimes sitting in one spot for over 30 minutes, capturing bolt after bolt.

But some of the best shots I got happened right as the evening got started and storms started firing. As I was flying west on Highway 74 towards Wickenburg, a little cell built up to my south. I stopped for a moment, watched it and suddenly lightning exploded out, super close to where I was. I knew right away that this was a wide-angle moment, and so I slapped on the 16-35. This is cropped a bit, but not much. The lightning was very close, only maybe 5 miles away and intense.

This was the second set of strikes I captured…I already posted this one and this one a few weeks ago and have a bunch more from this evening!