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Speed

Downtown Phoenix Freeway Interstate 10

Oh how I longed to live closer to the downtown area so I could explore taking shots like this one. Long exposures over freeways with loads of vehicles. Although, I realized when I look at this that it could basically have been taken on any ol’ freeway with a pedestrian overpass! But I love it because it’s downtown Phoenix!

I also love the movie Speed, which is the name of the film for my weekly Movie Title Wednesday entry. I don’t care how much people hate Keanu Reeves and his acting (or lack of) style…I usually find him entertaining. If I remember correctly, this movie kind of re-birthed Reeves as an action star after being a total dweeb time-traveler in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Speed was such a fun movie, lots of action, intensity, Dennis Hopper and not to mention Sandra Bullock.

“Shoot the hostage!”

Now, this photo has an extra special quality about it because it’s ALSO being used to help advertise the “gallery” I’ll be displaying my prints in for First Friday on November 5th and for the rest of that month. You can see it being used on the frontpage of DayTwelve.org and displayed on the official flyer for the event (click here to see it!).

If you live in the area, I hope you can make the event and check out my work PLUS the other five awesome photographers there, including my buddies Dee Nichols and Rick Young.

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.

October Monsoon Storm Photos: Part 1

Two weeks ago Arizona was lambasted with severe weather over the course of 2-3 days. Heavy rains, hail, dented cars, tornadoes, damage to homes and property. None of that happened to me, but I certainly enjoyed chasing it all!

The first two photos are from the 4th of October where we just had some heavy rains, nothing too horrible. But after that the fun really began.

I mentioned this before on another post, but I love weather photos in general and sometimes I just like to remember a scene regardless of where I was standing or what kind of crappy composition I had going on. I process them afterwards to highlight the clouds and storminess, but for the most part, I don’t share these with intentions of selling them. Sure, if you want to buy one PLEASE do, but otherwise, these are all for fun (even if 1-2 might make it on my coming soon photobook).

The next few below were taken on October 5th along Interstate 8 between Gila Bend and Casa Grande. Some massive storms, some of them supercell in nature, were raining heck down on the freeway and I raced there to capture some of the madness.

The next few below look like wall clouds from a supercell and they MAY or MAY NOT have been that…I was so consumed at the time with my lightning trigger I totally forgot to look for rotation. That’s how much of an Arizona boy I am…pathetic if you ask me.

I LOVE these shots…menacing, dark, spooky…and the third one actually has a lightning strike in it captured with the trigger!

This next one was heading back towards Maricopa…a spectacular hail/rain storm.

This one below is just east of Queen Creek and I-10.

The last two are along highway 587 and I shot them with my buddy Bryan, the only person I know who will actually join me stormchasing and be as excited as I am.

The structure on this last one was awesome. A slight tint of blue inside that storm indicating hail.

A final sliver of light

There is nothing more fun to me than finding an old photo you forgot to process, especially if it’s something you are excited about. This shot was taken back in January of this year out in the Usery Mountain area northeast of Phoenix. I had been sitting in this one spot waiting for the sun to set and for the clouds to move off the top of the Four Peaks. There was snow on them from a winter storm that blew through and I was worried that the clouds would never lift and it would be a wasted trip. If you haven’t seen that photo before…well, the clouds did indeed rise above! These aren’t the Four Peaks above, but they were just to the south of my location.

The trip taught me one of my early photography lessons: Don’t be so focused on one thing that you ignore what’s going on around you. It was easier here because I was sitting for over an hour and looking around was natural. But the key moment came when the sun hit those Four Peaks and I was so worried about them I almost missed a few other gorgeous views.

This was one of them. The sun’s appearance below a line of clouds until it disappeared for the day lasted maybe 15 minutes. It was a short window of opportunity and that’s what I love about this photo. You can see the sun is only cast on part of the scene…a sliver of light before it left completely. The cactus stand alone, cloaked in shadow, while the hills appear bathed in warm light. Was so peaceful out there that night. Fond memories.

On another note…Arizona is gorgeous. I’ve wanted to move for a really long time…the summers are brutal here and being a native, they seem to get worse for me. But in the last year my desires have changed somewhat I think. I blame photography of course. There is just so much beauty here…I’m a long way from done shooting this state.

The Road

There is really no other appropriate title for this week’s Movie Title Wednesday image. I knew it the second I stood at this spot, soaking in the wind, the storms and the weeds bursting through this long lost road near I-17.

The Road, while recently a movie, mainly hits home for me in the book form which was written by Cormac McCarthy. It came out a few years ago and even won Cormac a Pulitzer Prize. The story is bleak and harrowing, hopeless and unforgettable. The movie was almost exactly like the book, and in that way, it was hugely successful. The only reason it wasn’t a smash hit is probably because it leans big time on the side of depressing.

I am always amazed at how different people interpret things and just a few days ago a photographer I follow named Justin Kern posted some remarkable images that made him think this of this very same film.

Despite the mood of the film, scenes like this are beautiful to me. I shot this last Wednesday during the tornado-fest in Northern Arizona. I raced up I-17 early that morning hoping to capture a twister for the first time ever. I ended up at this spot and eventually turned around and headed back to work. Standing here though was amazing and I only wish I had more time to explore further down the road and capture a few more angles of it.

Ocotillo Wall Cloud

This is the second image in what will end up being many, many photos from the recent severe weather in Arizona. These storms were much more Midwest-like than anything we’re used to, especially up in northern Arizona where they now have confirmed six tornadoes touched down in a matter of 12 hours.

The title of this photo calls that low hanging, dark area a wall cloud. I don’t necessarily remember seeing a ton of rotation in the thing, but then again, I had my lightning trigger out and was focused on trying to capture that stuff. I was barely paying attention to anything else but the bolts hitting towards those mountains…until I realized how awesome the cloud looked and how green and brilliant this Ocotillo cactus was. A perfect frame for a desert storm.

For those living here, I photographed this down on Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend.

One Man’s Trash…

…is another man’s treasure.

I’ve been holding onto this one for awhile…shot it back in August along with a few other sunsets I’ve posted since then. This was one of my favorite photos from the day and sometimes you just want to HOLD onto a photo and just wait for the right time to post it. I have no idea why this was the time, or exactly why I waited…but regardless, here it is.

This was just south of the I-10/SR 587 interchange…a road I had never been down before. I drove right on past this to grab the sunset, and on my way back I passed it again…and then I stopped, put the car in reverse and snapped some brackets.

It was actually spooky and kind of proves to me why I’d never be good at solo urban exploring. I’m too much of a chicken. Everything was so still and quiet here…and I wasn’t sure if perhaps someone might be staring at me from inside those dark windows.

I’d love to go back here someday though, perhaps get a closer shot of that couch, because it was just awesome. I’m not saying this photo is an amazing bit of composition, but it definitely felt like someone placed the couch there specifically for me to photograph it.

The lake that wasn’t there

Canon Rebel XSI, Tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, ISO 100, F9, Six exposures, HDR

An amazing weather system moved through Arizona earlier this week. In fact, a total of FIVE confirmed tornadoes hit northern Arizona on Wednesday. That is unheard of.

What is also seen on very, very rare occasions is standing water in the middle of a flat desert. This “lake” didn’t exist earlier in the day and within about six hours of heavy rains and hail, it formed out of nowhere.  My buddy Bryan and drove down this little road to capture some awesome storm clouds about 90 minutes before sunset…and then decided to just sit and wait to see what things looked like when the sun went down.

We got lucky with the clouds, because they were all but gone about 30 minutes before this, but suddenly started forming again right over the mountains. And I was so focused on the water and sky, I didn’t even notice the colorful rocks that lay right beside me.

I have so many different shots from different angles and with different lenses around this area, I may post a few over time…I love them all, especially for the uniqueness in the fact that it’s unlikely anyone could ever capture this again.

Westward Ho!

(Canon Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35mm, 2.8, 17mm, ISO 100, 3 exposures)

As most of my many, many fans know (said tongue-in-cheek), I moved to downtown Phoenix last weekend, which opened up a whole new world of photographic options for me. But one of my passions is capturing the weather in it’s various forms, so being in a location with tall buildings and limited views off into the distance…well, it’s going to be a challenge for me. And that’s what I want this to be. I still want to scoot off into the desert to chase storms, but I’d also like take some risks and shoot stormy weather in the urban environment.

The last few days have been great around here for stormchasing…in fact, the last two specifically have been some for the history books. Tornado warnings galore, baseball-sized hail, damage, flooding, etc. They were storms you only see in the midwest during tornado season.

But on Monday I was driving back from picking up my daughter from the babysitter, so we drove the backroads and ended up driving right through the heart of downtown Phoenix. I’ve always loved this building and figured there was nothing better to use to frame the stormy skies with.

Now, I love this shot, but I plan on doing a lot more with it down the road. I was driving and snapping, so this was just a 3-exposure HDR, propped on my door with the window rolled down. I’m almost always doing six brackets these days, so this was stepping back a bit to get the shot.

My bucket list shot later on will be clouds like this, right at sunset, so I can get the building framed with the orange sky.

Dumbo

Sometimes you look at a photo and the title of it just hits you. I knew this was the one for today’s Movie Title Wednesday ongoing series! If you can’t spot Dumbo in the photo, I don’t know if anyone can help you *grin*

This is basically right out of my RAW editor with some processing done to the contrast and RGB coloring. I love to take time to compose shots, set down the tripod, grab a bunch of brackets and then spend a few hours processing that shot. However, I also just LOVE random photos of clouds and storm structures, and this is one of those shots. Just something unique you might not see everyday.

In fact, my buddy Bryan was with me and we were both in awe of this cloud…because while the camera can’t capture it, in real life, it was flying from right to left and you could see the “trunk” form withing seconds and just spin upwards. In reality, I think it was just an outflow from the storm churning up clouds as it flew by. The last time I saw clouds move and form like that was in Nebraska earlier this year, and Bryan hadn’t ever seen it happen like that. These were definitely storms you don’t see much of around Arizona.