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Over the Top

Over the Top
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 100, f/5.0, 1/5th, lightning trigger // buy print)

Another gorgeous lightning strike from my time in the plains this past April. Yes, Over the Top is because of the movie about arm-wrestling…if this was only tomorrow, I could make it a “Movie Title Wednesday” which harkens back to something I used to do on the blog that a few of you may remember! I saw this and thought “Across the Sky”…the song that I only know because of that film haha.

This was captured north of Scott City, Kansas, with a Lightning Trigger IV, which I recently purchase. Loving it. Heading out to the plains tomorrow for FIVE days of chasing…cannot wait. Going to be absolutely amazing!

Lightstorm

LIghtstorm
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/16, iso 100, 2.0 sec // buy print)

A few weeks ago I went on a last minute trip to the plains to chase for two days. The first day was marginal for eastern  Colorado and Kansas…it was the next day that I was stoked about. But as things usually work out…day one turned out to be the best. Not only did I get some good structure with some crazy shelf clouds and lightning, but I also captured this guy…probably one of my all-time favorite lightning strikes.

I’m kinda proud of this one. Sometimes you see lightning and you just stop, pull out the camera and hope you get something without thinking much about where you are. But for this one…I saw the sun setting and knew a line of storms were coming towards me. As I passed this field, I saw those trees out there and pulled off the shoulder. I backed up and backed up until they looked just like this. I set up the best composition I could think of and then prayed for lightning.

It was actually amazing. Even without the lightning, this scene was breathtaking. The sun was setting, and illuminating the falling rain…and the trees isolated by themselves made it feel like it some kind of picture or painting right there in real life.

After that…it was just a matter of hoping. I believe I was using my new Lightning Trigger IV for this and wow has that thing paid off already. I have two good ones from this spot, but this is definitely my favorite.

Power

In my head I see the word “power” represented three times in this image. I shot this a few weeks back during the severe storms we were having here in Arizona. My buddy Bryan was with me at this spot and we were just marveling over the thundering clouds, the speed of their movement and the sun exploding with rays everywhere.

I made several attempts to process this photo with HDR, but it never looked right and I ended up coming back to this version a few times.

So can you see the three forms of power in the photo yet?

Obviously, the powerlines right? I mean, that’s obvious. I love them in this shot. You’d figured with this awesome set of sunrays and a massive thunderstorm, you wouldn’t want anything in front of that scene. I dunno, it works here for me. The powerlines kind of disappear to the horizon and it brings a little depth to the photo.

Second form of power is the sun. Duh…probably the most powerful form of energy for many, many light years. I mean, just look at it.

The last one is the storm itself. It was building so fast and moving at a 50mph+ clip…you could just sense the raw power contained inside it. These storms packed high winds and damaging hail. Not something you normally see in these parts.

Definitely ended up being one of the best storm chasing days for me ever in Arizona.

Sunflower sunset

I’ve never noticed all the wild sunflowers that seem to grow around this desert before…it took this sudden love for photography to make me notice the beauty in the things around me that I take for granted.

This was shot the other night, the same night and in the same area as the sunset in the previous photo. You can see the setting sun in the background. I just wanted to snap a few up close shots of the flowers frames against the fading light.

Processed using a sweet action from Coffee Shop.

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.

Storms over northern Arizona

Yet another shot from my trip up to Northern Arizona and the Grand Falls. This was along the dirt road leading to the Falls. The skies…such amazing sunlight streaming through the clouds, it was hard not to stop every 100 feet to snap another photo.

Along the the clouds, I liked the bushes in the foreground that had some tall little reed-like brushes at the top. It may be hard to see in the photo, but they were kind of ablaze from the sunlight and a great contrast with the dark skies.

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.

Clouds and Light

Clouds always fascinate me and I love catching them in cool displays of light, darkness and nature. The other morning we had a little storm system move through, so I ran out south of my house to see if there was anything awesome to shoot.

The sun was still rising and it cast some great rays behind these clouds.

I enjoy capturing clouds like this and enhancing their beauty through HDR and processing, or even just through simple black and white.  These above are HDR with some color adjustments added to give it a fun look and really bring out the rays.