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First monsoon storm of the season

Yes, I am a happy camper tonight. When I left last week for Holland, all I heard was how that weekend was going to be a big one for the monsoons in the Phoenix area and I was going to miss out on the start of all the storm fun. Yeah, I know, I was going to the NETHERLANDS, so how could I be bummed about going and missing a few lightning shows?

Well…turns out nothing hit the Phoenix area really until tonight. And I was here to capture it. Luck spins my way one more time.

The shot above is one of my favorites from the night. The right bolt is glowing blue/green at the bottom because it hit an electrical box. You know when this happens because usually the lightning strike disappears but you see a bright explosion of light on the ground basically POP and then go away. The boxes in Phoenix used to be green so the glows could be an awesome green back in the day. I dunno if we still have those or not, maybe in the older areas.

A ton of fun out there tonight, I just sat in one place, two guys in a truck pulled up, whipped out chairs and watched along with me and there was much “ooohhing” and “ahhhhing” going on!

Insane thunderstorm over Nuenen

So at the facility we’re working at today, I asked this crazy, funny, Dutch guy around noon, “So what, no rain today? Looks pretty nice out!” He responds, “Oh no, bad storm coming, will be here between 5-6pm.” Alright, we’ll see!

Photo above taken at 5:42pm.

Umm, wow, this was probably the coolest looking storm I’ve ever seen. Well, maybe I’m just excited, but as you can see from the photo, there was some serious nastiness headed right for me. The clouds were churning, I saw a small funnel up high in the clouds (probably just a “cold air funnel”, barely anything, but I saw it!), the lightning was all over and then once the storm hit, there was 70mph winds and debris from trees all over the place.

We went out to dinner later and there were some flattened cornfields, a few uprooted trees and broken branches littering the small town of Nuenen.

This shot is a “shakily” held merge of two 3-bracket HDR images. CS5 worked some magic for me here which I may talk about at a later date, but no time for it now.

Suffice to say…it’s hard to believe I was worried about missing the monsoon in Arizona when stuff like this was waiting for me.

I have some more nasty photos I may post later on…but this one took some time and I had to get it out there.

(More Holland photos here: Holland Trip)

Boiling storm over Nuenen

This is another shot of the storm from behind my hotel a few nights ago. You can see some brightness to the right which was a wall of rain coming that I ended up having to outrun since I stood there shooting until it was almost too late.

This is a black and white, HDR photo from three handheld brackets. It’s got a looooot of grain. I kind of like it that way and it’s mainly why I decided to go with the B&W styling, but once I removed the color, I liked the scene even more. Getting rid of the grain proved too hard to do without losing the integrity and anger in the clouds. It just smoothed them out too much. I may look into other ways to do it later on when I refine it, but I also honestly don’t mine it looking this way.

Loved getting to see a seriously nasty cloud all the way here in Holland!

Storms over the Strawberry Fields

Go figure. I get slightly jealous about Phoenix having an amazing chance of storms last weekend and ME having to go to Holland. Okay, I wasn’t TOO upset, but part of me wished I was there enjoying the first big storms of the year. But it turns out it wasn’t a bad thing to be over here.

They definitely didn’t materialize in Phoenix, but I sure got a dose of them here in Nuenen, Netherlands. First night I was here I was woken up by a thunderstorm, and then today we had two big storms roll through and drop a ton of rain.

This shot was taken about 25 feet from our hotel on the farm next door. That is a giant strawberry field spreading out before you and the puddles came from the rains earlier in the day. Such gorgeous country with the trees and farms around our hotel…simply beautiful.

Also, that’s not my tripod out in the field, it’s some kind of watering sprinkler 🙂

It’s been fairly warm and humid here, but the rains really turned this evening into something amazing. I have a few more storm pictures, this one really turned out well.

(You can see more pictures from Holland by visiting this link: Holland Trip)

Clouds over New York City

Sometimes taking photos from a plane just doesn’t amount to much afterwards. You really have to find a sky or a scene in front of you that is so unique that capturing it from a plane makes it amazing.

I don’t think this is close to that kind of photo, but what I do love is the angle I was able to get with the plane turning to the right as we headed to JFK in New York. The clouds were beautiful and up on the horizon they were moving left to right and forming storms as they made their way to the right, as you can see.

Just a fun view of a giant city, one that I’m fond of and would love going back to someday.

(You can see more photos from my trip to Holland by clicking on this tag: Holland Trip)

Northern Arizona stormy fenceline

This is another one of those shots from my northern Arizona trip that I didn’t process for a long time. I normally like my skies less rain-cloudy and more fluffy cumulus, but I dug the backdrop and corner fence posts in the foreground.

Definitely was a fruitful trip in the way of photography for me, despite being there for work. Got very lucky with the stormy weather up north, got to see Grand Falls, amazing parts of the northern Arizona high deserts and came away with a ton of quality stuff. Amazing how a little trip like that, with almost no planning, can lead to such beneficial and memorable results!

The road through the forest

While it may be obvious from my constant babble about weather, storms and lightning, that I LOVE that stuff with passion, there is also something else I enjoy immensely.

The cool pine trees of northern Arizona.

Being a desert-born dude who lives in the Phoenix area almost year round, minus the occasional excursion elsewhere, getting out of that blistering sunshine is of vital importance, especially during the summer. Ever since I was a kid my dad used to take us camping once or twice a summer. People who don’t live in Arizona have no idea that the pine trees are only less than 90 minutes northeast of Phoenix, and if you drive just a little further, you can go from 105 degrees to 75 in just two hours. And at night, the temps drop to the 40’s and lower.

We’re hopefully going camping again this summer, me and a few buddies. The place I always go is the Mongollon Rim, north of Payson, AZ.

This photo, however, was taken about three hours north and west of Phoenix, around the Williams area. I visited back in May and this weekend while cleaning up my hard drives, I found out I hadn’t processed all of the photos I took that day. I cannot lie, I love this shot. The storm clouds add a nice contrast to the green pine trees, and you know me, I always enjoy a nice road in a composition.

I processed this with the usual suspects: Photomatix, CS5, Topaz Adjust, Imagenomic….but with Topaz I used a little more flavor than just a simple contrast adjustment, and I like the effect that I got here.

Another scene from stormy northern Arizona

I continue to dig a little here and there into the pictures I took in the middle of May when I went up to northern Arizona on a work trip. I made a detour on the way home to visit Grand Falls and stopped to snap many photos along the way. The weather was gorgeous, storms were plentiful and something I had not expected.

This was along Indian Route 6910. I loved the giant rock formation in the middle of the generally rocky terrain, but also the cool part of this shot is the San Francisco peaks that you can see on the left horizon. These are north of Flagstaff and constitute one of our state’s two big ski areas.

Stormchasing: A backlit Nebraska storm

Of all the things I saw during my trip to Nebraska to chase around some storms, this scene was one of the best. I don’t even know if the HDR processing can convey what it looked like in person, but it was breathtaking. The sun back-lighting the falling rain, the scud clouds moving quickly along the surface…the dirt road running into the distance…the grass was blowing, the clouds churning…it was a sight to behold.

Myself and another stormchaser were just standing here, talking, looking in awe and snapping photos. A good guy too, from the town of Ogalalla where I shot the feed mill photo posted yesterday. Love the people in Nebraska, just good, kind folk.

Technically this was just a hand-held, 3-bracket HDR using Photomatix, CS5, Imagenomic and Topaz.

Stormy skies in northern Arizona

This photo is from a few weeks ago on my trip to see the Grand Falls in northern Arizona. The clouds were stormy, but not really dropping a ton of rain…like these in the shot. Mostly virga, but still awesome to see. The skies were amazing that day and I had to stop every few minutes to snap another photo. Helped that I was on a 10-mile dirt road going only 25 mph.

This is panoramic made up of two, 3-bracket HDR photos stitched together in Photoshop. The clouds were so tall and spreading, I almost needed a third shot to get the tops.

Completely enjoyed my time up there that day…the weather was superb, the skies were amazing…the country was so interesting and new to me…hope to visit there sometime again!