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Must

Rainy Reflection Downtown Phoenix Road

There are a lot of “musts” in this photo…all traffic must turn right…you must not park here…you must stop ahead…and of course at the time I thought “I must take this photo.

What is it about me and the weather? I mean, first it was lightning, then it was photographing awesome monsoon clouds across the desert and that was followed closely with wanting to chase storms in the midwest. On this night, it was the thought of rainy, reflective roads that got me out shooting around downtown Phoenix until midnight. If it hadn’t rained, I wouldn’t have been out there, that much is certain.

This image is part of my continued love affair with my 50mm 1.4 and the amazing fun I have shooting low to the ground, opening up the aperture, using Live View and manually focusing to find that sweet spot.

(exif: rebel xsi, 50mm 1.4, f/1.6, iso100, 1/4sec)

Please Kee Door Close

(Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm, 17mm, ISO100, F8, six exposure HDR)

No, the title isn’t a typo.

I’ve been teetering on the edge of buying the onOne Software Perfect Photo Suite for awhile now. My good buddy Brian Matiash just went to work for that company and I discovered yesterday that he named a couple of the Photo Tools presets after some photographer friends he has, including yours truly.

As most good friendships between buddies go, insults are the way we communicate. So of course instead of naming the preset “AZ Bad Ass” he decided to go with the more humiliating, “Graddad Mike O’s Secret Sauce.” This stems from an inside joke where apparently I’m much older than some of these guys, use a cane to get around and my death is imminent. The preset may or may not contain Metamucil.

Either way, I cried a little at first, but then I got over it and downloaded the Photo Suite. I mean, what else was I going to do?

So the image above was made using my Secret Sauce. It’s a simple wall in downtown Phoenix just a bit west of Coach & Willy’s. I liked the amazing textures and various colors of the wall, but thought the sign was kind of funny considering the door probably hasn’t been opened in a decade.

I’m having a serious  blast exploring downtown. The wife, daughter and myself drove around again tonight looking for awesomeness and I shot some brackets. I really want to spend a few hours down there in the near future to really take my time finding hidden gems. But when you are busy with work all the time, it’s nice to bring the family along for a short little drive around the desolate, abandoned areas of town right?

Perfect Photo Suite is pretty awesome and I’m slowly getting the hang of it. One thing brilliant about onOne themselves as a company is the way they go about helping you learn how to use their software, with webinars, video tutorials, etc. Brian even did a little webex for me to show me quickly how it worked with Photoshop, because I really want to be able to use it for processing portraits as well. Amazing customer service at onOne. That’s how you earn loyalty and good word of mouth.

There is a smashing deal going on right now for the thing…check it out (offer expires on the 8th).

Can’t wait to show off a few more images next week…and hopefully get out there to shoot some more.

Storms on Interstate 8

Ah…the first week in October will go down in my very own history books as the most awesome weather event of 2010. Storm after storm, organized systems, training…cloud structures I don’t get to see much out here…just fantastic fun.

This is one of the first images I captured from that week. Around mid-day I noticed a storm building up down on the Arizona-Mexico border that was moving north. About an hour later it hadn’t died out at all, it just kept moving towards Interstate 8. You don’t see that much out here…usually storms build, die and the outflows created by rain and wind form new storms. This was an organized cell moving steadily in one direction. The kind of thing you see in the midwest. I closed up shop and raced south.

I shot this about 20 or some odd miles west of the I-8/SR 84 interchange. And yes, after a few minutes of shooting from here, I headed inside that thing. A lot of those photos can be seen in my blog post last week with all the random storm images.

To the left of this shot more storms would end up building from the south creating one heck of a day of weather. I plan on posting another collage of storm photos perhaps later today or sometime this week.

Signs

Well, it’s another Movie Title Wednesday and this time it may be more subtle than most, but there is a quick story behind it. Super quick.

“Hey wife, what do you think of this photo?”

“I like the signs.”

“There are signs? Oh yeah…wait a second…”

And thus we now have a title for the picture.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Signs was one of my more favorite M. Night films, and it was probably one of his last good ones. It had some great music, spooky moments and a cool ending where everything tied up nice and neat.

“Swing away Merrill…swing away.”

Nothing beats Sixth Sense and Unbreakable though in my eyes when it comes to M. Night movies.

So linking this image to Signs isn’t exactly obvious, but I like it anyways. It definitely has that dark, scary thing going on. And you can’t argue with my wife…it does indeed have signs in it. I shot this up at Sunset Point last week during the tornado insanity here in Arizona. I had driven north at 8am hoping to catch my first shot of a twister, but ended up sitting here for a bit before heading back to work. Pulled off on the right side of Interstate 17 and walked out into the scrub a bit. I’m sure I’m going to get a ticket one of these days for parking on the edge of a major highway.

On the way back home I did get a photo of a small funnel cloud though and will post those later this week more than likely.

The light rail platform at 5th and Mill Avenue

I took this shot as I was leaving downtown Tempe last Friday night. I had been feeling pretty lousy about the shots I’d taken, they didn’t feel “awesome” and I had no idea what I would end up with. I switched to my 50mm lens when I was walking out and wished I had taken the time to just walk around and snap candid “life” photos of downtown instead of what I had been doing the last few hours.

Don’t get me wrong…I ended up with a few nice shots, a beautiful sunset…but while HDR is great and fun, it’s also a lot of work and it takes me away on occasion from the beauty of a simple shot of a sign on a light rail platform.

I loved this photo, but I loved it even more when my wife said she thinks she’d love to have this printed and on a wall somewhere. She’s always a good gauge for me. Of course, she’s more partial to this type of photography than the grand scale of some of my HDR work.