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Tarantula!

What, where is the tarantula??

Okay, nowhere…but sometimes I have a hard time coming up with titles and this one especially. But to show you how my mind works, when I looked at this image…and saw the kind of miniature looking saguaro cactus, it made me first and foremost think of an old movie backdrop or set in the 1950s, which then reminded me of the movie Tarantula that I saw at some point in my childhood. More than likely because of my dad…I mean, when you’re 9-years old, who else but your dad is going to make you watch a film that came out 20 years before you were born?

So in reality, it has nothing to do with this photo. I actually named it “Saguaro Valley”, but ugh, it’s just boring and my mind isn’t working well today.

I took this image back in late December when we had the ice cold weather and snow in the high desert elevations. Because of the distance to these snowy peaks, I decided to use my tack-sharp 50mm 1.4 to shoot some of the hills instead of my wide angle.

This photo is kind of an experiment in a way. You’ll notice the blurred tilt-shift effect going on, which I never and have never done before on a landscape shot. But while the normal image was fine and okay, I felt like it was just another picture of a desert mountain with snow. So I whipped out Focal Point from onOne Software and played around.

I liked the effect of making these saguaros stand out a bit more. You’d think the mountain with snow on it would be the main interest here, but I kind of dug how the cactus got framed and the clump of them on the left, so making the mountain a secondary feature worked for me. I linked the image to the larger version, because I think it shows off this image a bit better than this scaled down one.

A strong monsoon downdraft

I love seeing a thunderstorm in action. Normally when you are just minding your own business, you just see the clouds move in, maybe some dust blows ahead of them and then the rain/lightning starts.  But rarely do you get to see the origin of all that stuff.

This is the second opportunity I’ve had this summer to see a dust storm forming. The first I posted last week, The Birth of a Monsoon Dust Storm, which was a fun “time lapse” of sorts.  But today’s photo really shows you the raw power of a thunderstorm’s downdraft and what it can do.  You might also consider this a microburst.

I shot this on Saturday afternoon where storms were producing 65mph winds, hail and all kinds of lightning.  Sometimes you can get a downdraft like this and not see the same results, but the storms were fairly severe on this day and so you get to see something kind of cool. The dust you see forming on the edges above looks like it’s just on either side of the storm, but in reality, it was spreading in all angles and just hadn’t picked up any dust yet.

While this is a great way to see how a dust storm begins, it’s nothing like the giant Haboobs we sometimes get where multiple cells like the above storm are all grouped together and producing many downdrafts that join forces to send massive walls of dust headed towards Phoenix.

I rarely do this, but if you have an account on Flickr, maybe you wouldn’t mind favoriting this photo over there? It’s been doing well and I think just a few more comments/faves might get it Explored!