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Reach for the Sky

The Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix

“Reach for the skyyyyyyy.”

Ah, a favorite line from one of my daughter’s favorite things to watch…Toy Story. I should note…I also love those movies. I find that I can still laugh at them over and over despite the amazing number of times we’ve watched it in our house!

This is Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix, a monolithic structure that immediately caught my eye on one of my first real exploratory drives down there. We’ve now lived down here for a few weeks now and I’m finding more opportunities to explore here and there and in the process of doing that, discovering all kinds of things I want to photograph. This particular skyscraper I believe is the tallest building in Arizona, or at least it was a few years ago. I haven’t see anything that could surpass it as I’ve driven around.

I have several angles of this building, from about 20 feet away looking straight up, to this shot from across the street in a parking garage (a ‘parkade’ for our Canadian friends). I intend to post the others someday, but what struck me the most with this one is the kind of “flaring” clouds behind it.

Six brackets make up this shot, processed in Photomatix and CS5, with a finishing touch using Topaz Adjust. I don’t use Adjust as much anymore, but I do have to say the Exposure Color Stretch is my favorite filter in that entire tool. The image above was done with that filter, and while it gives is a sort of “halo” about it…this was intentional and not an indication of sloppy HDR work *grin*

Fringe Universe

Embrace your surroundings young man!

Now that I’m spending almost all of my days in the downtown urban areas of Phoenix, I’m trying to evolve my vision a bit to be aware of things I may not normally look at. That process was certainly helped yesterday morning when we had a brief downpour around 5am, which left some amazingly clear puddles of water everywhere. I’m not sure if it just doesn’t rain all that much in the mornings here, or if you do get rain, it’s too cloudy for the pools of water to be that great looking…who knows. All I do know is that it rained, the skies cleared and the reflectivity of all these puddles were fantastic.

This was taken in the parking garage at my place of full-time employment. The focus was set on the building itself, hence the foreground cement is less than crisp up front. Took a few tries to get it lined up just right to have the other building appearing like a singular monolith out of the water.

Now, I apologize up front to people who have no idea what the title means. I love to watch a little show called Fringe, which is the first sci-fi series to come along that feels anything like the old X-Files (which will hold a special place in my heart forever). Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen Fringe yet and plan to…this may give away a little bit about the show, but to keep it simple…let’s just say there may be other worlds out there that mirror our own. If you do watch the show, I will assume you get the title *grin*

Wish I could have taken another 30 minutes to roam the puddles…but work beckoned. Was glad to get a few brackets fired off though…may post a few more images from this morning down the road.

Urban Stormchasing

So with my sudden move to the downtown Phoenix area, I vowed to at least ATTEMPT to capture some storms from the cement jungle down here. For a guy like me who never has his 17-35mm lens on anything BUT 17mm…it’s a struggle to find wide open spaces to really give an idea of what a storm is doing.

Time to get creative…and prove to myself that I can be a photographer in any setting.

I shot this last week during the rash of severe weather we had (It’s now up to EIGHT confirmed tornadoes in northern Arizona). The location is a very tall parking garage that is near by office and is a place I’ve been tobefore whilst searching for high ground. It’s got to be at least a 10-level parking structure…so the height is perfection. However, just because you are up high doesn’t mean you go to the edge and shoot. I still feel a strong desire to ensure I have some kind of foreground element, one that’s hopefully interesting.

We’ll be having some more storms next week, so I am going to try and take the opportunity to shoot a few more scenes like this…if I can hold back from taking a drive out to the deserts!