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The mattress

This was another spectacle on my drive to Grand Falls that caused me to flip the car around and head back to the side of the road.

Where did it come from? Did someone toss it to the side of the road whilst moving at 80 mph? Did it just blow in from the land to the left of the road, where nothing existed?

How long has it been there and no one taken it down? You’d think a police officer or national forest ranger would make it a point to remove this unsightly obstruction. I’m glad they didn’t.

I thought it was amazing. I love the randomness of things, those out of place (if you can find them and notice them) objects or scenes that speak to you. Here’s a beautiful, northern Arizona landscape, with low hills, gorgeous clouds…and stuck to a long barbed wire fence is an old, trashed mattress  trying to entice you into taking a second look.

Well it worked.

The big skies of northern Arizona

The way to Grand Falls goes through some of the more interesting and beautiful places I’ve seen in Arizona. This mountain is part of a large group of dormant volcanoes that reside in northern Arizona. The land is full of low bushes and trees are a rarity. It made for some astounding looking mountains and hills…treeless, smooth and golden…toss in an amazing looking sky with awesome clouds and I couldn’t resist pulling the car over to take this shot.

Mailboxes, etc

(click on the image for a larger view!)

The way to Grand Falls goes through Luepp Road, which was picturesque and almost as interesting to me as the Falls themselves. There were quite a few of these little mailbox clusters along the way and this scene above spoke to me so much, I actually turned around and went back a few miles to make sure I captured it before returning to my trip to the Falls.

There was just something about the way the mailboxes were all huddled together, the dirt road runs off for miles and in the far distance you can actually see the houses these boxes belong to. The sky was so great this day…the clouds perfection.

I’ve lived in Arizona my entire 35+ years of existence yet still I have so much to see and discover…Luepp Road is a stretch of country I’ve never seen before but am so grateful I got the chance.

Two more sunsets from downtown Tempe

I posted a shot on Monday of the Hayden Flour Mill at sunset, which you can see here again in the above panoramic view of the town of Tempe, Arizona. The sky was cooperative that night and it made for a nice sunset from the slopes of A-Mountain. Click on the photo for a larger, more detailed view.

The shot below is looking north-northwest towards the Tempe Town Lake, also from A-Mountain. I love how it was just dark enough to see the string of lights running across the Mill Avenue bridges, plus a few street lights here and there. The reflection off the building is what makes the shot for me.

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.

Arc of Glory – Another epic Arizona sunset

(please click on the photo for a larger view)

I always hear from people that Arizona seems to have the best sunsets.  I actually  like a lot of the ones I see shot in Florida by a few photogs I know (example).

But I tend to agree about Arizona. Of course, I’m biased and also haven’t lived anywhere else *grin*

Last night was another one of those. I hadn’t been out in awhile to shoot the sunset, and that was mostly because we just haven’t had much in the way of clouds and weather lately. But this week a giant cold front moves through the southwest and the sky last night ended up being spectacular.

Usually I love it when the sun sets and then illuminates the underbelly of the cloudy sky, but this ended up being a little different. The fluffy clouds didn’t get lit up much, but the high clouds behind it exploded in a glorious arc of color, which ended up almost as a backlight to the forward, lower-lying clouds. It made for a spectacular sight. In some ways, it almost looks like a massive nuclear explosion on the horizon that is slowly expanding.

Technically, this is a merge of two, 3-shot HDRs. I worked on it late last night, and in the morning hours I wonder if I could have straightened the horizon a little more on the left. I may tweak it later before it hits the gallery.

This was shot just about half a mile from my house. Drove down a dirt road lined with tall weeds to find a nice desert shrub to help compose the foreground.

Glorious morning over the San Tans

I woke up yesterday, saw the clouds, put on sandals, grabbed camera bag, told wife Starbucks was coming, left house, drove south, set up and enjoyed a nice rising sun streaming rays behind the fluffy clouds.

This is Arizona. We haven’t seen clouds like this in what feels like a month. It’s nothing but sunshine now…even the green desert is starting to turn brown already.

The land just south of my house is mostly fields and some farming areas, so there isn’t much in the way of excitement for the foreground of most photos (although yesterday’s shot with the dead log was luck!), but I still like long dirt roads and fields of gold…plus there wasn’t much time before the sun rose higher and the clouds disappeared.

A glorious morning indeed.

Storms rolling across the Arizona desert

This morning I woke up, looked outside and saw fluffy clouds. The photographer switch inside of me was instantly ignited and I left the house after a few minutes.

We just haven’t seen any weather in weeks and weeks…for a guy like me, that’s an eternity! It didn’t even look that spectacular out there, and in fact, the clouds you see above were the stormiest of anything and they didn’t even drop any rain.

This picture almost didn’t happen. In fact, most of my best shots end up being unplanned.  I had been shooting the clouds, the sky and some rays of the sun shining through. As I was leaving, I noticed this dead log just a few feet from where I had been standing. How on earth did I miss it before???

Anyways, I ran up and snapped this photo.  Love the sky framed with the foreground. I also love the golden field in the distance…which was green just a few weeks ago. You can already see dead tumbleweed next to this log. That tire hanging off the branch just adds an interesting element.

I shied away from HDR on this one and instead just went with an exposure blend.

Foggy day in Corvallis, Oregon

Yesterday I picked up a roll of film I had lying around from a long time ago. Now it wasn’t a “photography” roll of film, I really have only been doing this hobby seriously for less than a year now, it was just some pictures my wife and I must have taken over 5 years ago. But I had no idea how long.

Well, when I got them back, I found out it was almost 10 years old. A very long time ago, we looked like kids, lived in our apartment and most of them were just silly photos. But it made me think about old shots that I hadn’t ever posted or forgot about in the hustle of processing photos.

These two photos are three bracketed, hand-held HDR shots from my business trip to Corvallis, Oregon. This was a very tough shot for me, because the city was essentially all around this place, even though you may not be able to tell by looking. I had to squat low enough so the hill blocked some houses, and just to the left is a very busy highway.

But I couldn’t pass up the cloudy skies and the low-flowing fog floating across the valley between the hills.

I can’t decide which I like better, the color or the black/white, so I’ll leave it up to you.

Oh, and I’m trying out a new watermark on my photos…something subdued, maybe more professional looking. Curious what people think of that as well.