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A painted sunset over uptown Phoenix

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(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 100, f/16, 1.3 sec // buy print)

After the storm season ends in Phoenix, we seem to get the “nothing season,” which means temps that aren’t too hot and nothing but sunshine. But sometime in late November towards December, it gets colder and we have our fall/winter time here (even if it’s not like most places) and then the clouds start appearing more often and you get those beautiful sunsets again.

This was from yesterday evening. A sky that looks to be painted on with a brush.

Despite us not having snow or anything, the next 5 days are going to be crazy cold for Phoenix…lows near 20 degrees for 4-5 mornings in a row. Unprecedented. Gonna be interesting.

A December sunset over Phoenix

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, f/16, iso 50, 1/6 sec // buy print)

Since the monsoon season ended, I feel as if I’ve done nothing but take pictures of brides, grooms, kids, babies, families, parents, couples…and not much else. In fact, it’s more than a feeling, it’s true. In my Lightroom catalog, I have my fine art work (storms, landscapes, etc) organized by date. The previous entry was October 12th before I went out last night.

We’ve basically been having sick sunsets and sunrises all week and I finally had a few nights off. But being tired and all that, I only drove a few blocks to my fav parking garage and waited for the colors to arrive. It’s a place I’ve shot at a bunch of times, but it really does offer one of the better views of downtown. And yup, we got yet another beautiful evening sky across Arizona.

Looking forward to hopefully some winter storms later this month or into January.

A blanket of clouds over Phoenix

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4 l, f/5.6, iso 50, /1200 // buy print)

Phoenix is almost always sunny, so any cloudy, moody day makes me happy. Back in March we had a rainy morning, so I piled the family in the car and we drove up to the stop of South Mountain.

Loved the clouds being so low over the city.  Simply beautiful.

Make sure you click on the image for the best viewing experience.

The Demma family

We’ve know the Demma family for a long time now…but I hadn’t met any of the kids besides the older boy Korver. So it was awesome to get introduced to Glazier and Gianna. The entire family is a good-looking group, but you had to love these kids. The photo above was pretty much all them…in fact, they just kept sitting places, hugging each other, smiling for the camera and making my job a lot easier!

And you have to dig the smiling from Korver and Glazier…considering they both possess sizable gaps in their teeth despite being years apart! I believe that was due to Korver knocking one out of Glazier’s mouth during a rousing game of football. Ah…brothers.

Was awesome to hang out with these guys for a little bit in the Arizona desert and just amazing to see how this family has expanded and grown! Thanks so much guys for letting me snap some photos of you all!

Twister

Today is Movie Title Wednesday and I’ve never used the same move twice in over a year doing this series. So I probably should have saved this film for next spring when I hit the road out in the Midwest and see my first tornado, but by then none of you will even remember this anyways. So I went with it today!

First off, Twister was pure awesome for weather and storm chasing nuts. Sure, it romanticized, glamorized and added all of those hollywood elements to the science of storm chasing. I know those hard core chasers who had been doing it for years probably didn’t like this movie. And maybe it wasn’t the best, but I certainly enjoyed it and whenever it’s on, I have to watch it. Not only that, but the idea they have at the end to let the probes float up into the tornado…that was way ahead of its time because just last year a vehicle started doing sort of the same thing for the first time. Pretty awesome.

Yesterday we had some dynamic weather in Arizona. There was a lot of crazy winds and instability going on, so there were severe warnings quite a few times throughout the day. My daughter and I left the house late in the afternoon and drove towards South Mountain. We spotted this little cell that had some interesting characteristics to it. You could see a sort of “spiral” shape to it as it rose into the sky.

The first picture above shows that. You can see it twisting skyward. I’d suggest clicking on each to view on black and also so it fits your screen!

This is indicative of a storm that has some rotation on it. And rotation is the first step to a mesocyclone, which CAN lead to a tornado. But that mainly happens in the Midwest, not out here very much. Still…seeing anything like this in Arizona is always a treat.

The last image below is just another shot of the cell a few minutes later. You can kind of see some spinny-ness going on, but it started dying out right when I got to it. Was kind of spooky to be right under this for a bit, but I was about 95% confident nothing would happen.

Gonna be quiet on the blog the rest of the week as I travel to New York City with the wife to get away from the hot temps of Phoenix. Of course, it’s 62 this morning and is going to be in the high 70’s tomorrow, so I guess we left just in time!

Have a great week everyone.

Yet another Phoenix dust storm – September 11, 2011

We’ve lost track of the number of large dust storms (or HABOOBS) that have rolled into Phoenix this monsoon season. Some people think it’s more than normal. I kind of think that the big one from July 5th put everyone on alert for these things and now anytime we get one it’s a big deal…and more noticeable. Dust storms are very commonplace out here and we get them every summer.

Granted, we may have had some pretty dry deserts, so the dust could just be a bit more plentiful than normal. Another thing that also may be a difference is that we’ve received a lot more weather moving up from the Tucson area than down from the Mogollon Rim like we usually do…and the Rim usually doesn’t send dust storms.

Either way…we got another one on Sunday night and it looked pretty good creeping over South Mountain.

Soooo…we had some severe storms all over AZ this weekend. Phoenix was forecast to see some of these storms Sunday afternoon/evening. I went to the usual parking garage (it’s so close to home and easy) when I saw some cells on radar moving NE towards town and I was praying a few would develop over Phoenix. I was also hoping that I’d catch these right at sunset and get some amazing colors in the sky coupled with some gorgeous cell structures.

Of course things never go how you want. We got another dust storm. I’m not complaining though, it was a beautiful sky, beautiful clouds and the dust was awesome as it rolled over the mountains into town.

And towards the end…you can still see a bit of a sunset.

A few notes for this timelapse:

1. Pay attention around the 22 second mark…the dust cloud creeping over the mountain is just cool. Looks like a rushing, crashing wave.
2. Hopefully the haters will be quiet now and enjoy a dust storm timelapse that not only keeps running, but doesn’t stop until the dust has passed. *grin*
3. The timelapse is made up of 836 images shot five seconds apart from 5:46pm until 6:55pm (roughly).
4. This was a full manual timelapse. Manual white balance, iso, shutter speed and aperture. I have to say…this ended up being some of the best results I’ve had so far doing this.

Hope you enjoy!

Ripples

(click to see larger and a bit better…Wordpress re-sizing makes this one a tad too dark in places)

The image I posted yesterday evoked some awesome comments from you guys about what might be wrong with the composition of the scene. It came down to the foreground element. And over the course of the comments, it became clear that the foreground in a landscape photo can make it or break it.

I wanted to thank you all for your input. I honestly wasn’t able to put a finger on it until your thoughts helped me realize I was thinking the same thing all along.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ve probably heard me talk about foreground elements while I’m out storm/weather chasing. Often you are in such a hurry to capture a scene before it changes that you run around like a crazy person looking for a special object to include in your photo…like a cactus, or rock, or abandoned building…whatever. I love this part of it, but sometimes you just can’t find something awesome.

The image above was taken in the early morning of February 19th. The sky were amazingly thick from an approaching storm, but what was incredible was some of light from the rising sun was hitting the bottom of these clouds, giving them those orange, purple and red tones. You couldn’t even see where the hole in the clouds was for the light to shine through. It just felt so dark.

Ironically, I’ve converted this to black and white because I like drama in my stormchasing photos and these clouds look more foreboding and mysterious void of color. The foreground in this shot is very subtle, but the reason I chose it was the rippled in the ground leading out towards the horizon. I’m not sure where they were from…perhaps some heavy rains created some running water and the waves were formed.

We’ve entered the driest time of the year for Arizona, so I’ll be looking back at some older weather images I haven’t processed yet and post them in the coming weeks. Otherwise I’ll go  nuts without any storms to shoot!

Although…if things line up in the next few weeks out in the midwest, I’ll be taking a 3-4 day trip out there to stormchase…and I cannot wait for that!

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/13)

 

Precipice

Stormy Morning Over Phoenix

I feel like I’m running out of titles for blog posts. Part of the problem is I tend to do these things on the fly, without much preparation, so I don’t take a whole lot of time to think about them. I usually just write what’s on my mind when I sit down and finally start typing.

Like today.

On our last few photowalks in downtown Phoenix, I noticed my buddy Rick Young with a headphone stuck in one ear as he wandered around looking for shots. It was interesting and I thought that sounded kind of cool. My car has a CD player in it, but nothing else and I hate listening to my iPod touch over those crappy FM transmitters. So at the end of January on my trip out to the Superstition Mountains, I stuck the iPod in my pocket, plugged in the headphones and went for a drive.

It was amazing what a difference it made. Now when Rick listens to tunes, it’s the Smashing Pumpkins and other bands like that. For me…I like soundtracks. And dark, murky, majestic soundtracks. My playlist consists of a few Battlestar Galactica seasons, The Dark Knight, Crimson Tide, Hunt for Red October, all three Lord of the Rings and the Firefly/Serenty combination.

There have been a few moments since where there will be a track that culminates in some massive revelation…while at the same time I’m cresting some hilltop and see the sun breaking through the clouds up ahead. It’s almost like my own soundtrack while out shooting. And I love it.

All this to say that I will likely be poaching song titles from these albums to help name these blog posts. Although ones like “The Council of Elrond” will be hard pressed to be useful for anything…some of them work well.

Like “Precipice” from season three of Battlestar Galactica. This image was taken up at South Mountain on Saturday morning, overlooking the city below. We had some fun storms roll through, lots of rain and some amazing clouds on Sunday afternoon.

A quick note about the processing of this shot. Brutally tough with the windy conditions…even using the -2 bracket I still have some blur in the shrubs and I’m okay with that. But there is a lot of motion overall in the scene…the cloud swooshing across the sky…so perhaps it works.

Warp Speed

A few nights ago I declared I was tired of urbex for awhile and wanted to get out and shoot some desert landscapes against the setting sun. I hadn’t been to South Mountain in awhile and didn’t remember much of it, so I dragged along my wife and daughter and we drove up to the top of Summit Road where you can see the entire city. It’s breathtaking. But for me, I didn’t want to just sit there with the hundreds of other people and take a picture that everyone else was taking. So we didn’t even stop at the top and I headed back down, trying to find something to frame the evening sky against.

Only the pull-0ffs were very few, the road very tight. My wife is the one who suddenly pointed out this tiny little turnoff amidst my frustration at not seeing ANYTHING. I stopped, gave her a peck on the cheek saying she was awesome as usual and squatted outside the car to snap off some brackets.

This spot I loved immediately because the road had a sweet S-curve to it and although you can’t see it in this picture, it curls back to the right off in the distance. I also dug the little bit of pink clouds creating some contrasting lines in the sky.

But of course, it was the car that drove by during my bracketing that made this for me. You don’t necessarily plan for stuff like this, but I did want to see if I could get some car lights in the shot. These turned out awesome…almost a warp speed effect with the ghostly image of a car leaving a trail of light behind it.

This made me realize how much I miss the desert. I mean, sure, this spot was just about 30 minutes away or so, but it’s not like where I used to live where it was a half-mile to the wide open spaces. I’ve been so focused on the city and urban environment, it was a nice break to realize that the desert and mountains still hold me captive.

Stormy skies

On my way home from work Wednesday, I snapped some photos of the cool cloudy, stormy skies. The first one was actually BEFORE leaving wok from a nearby parking garage, the rest were shot southwest of Ahwatukee, along Riggs Road west of I-10.