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West of Carlsbad, New Mexico

West of Carlsbad
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8 // buy print)

My favorite part about storm chasing is never know what you might see at a moments notice. As we were headed into Carlsbad, we came out of under some rain and saw this cloud moving slowly across the sky.

Amazingly we had just come up to a road that went to the top of a hill for a little park area, so we drove up to the best vantage point and jumped out of the car. I had to duck under a fence. leap across a freshly flowing creek from previous rain and hail, and run uphill for about 200 feet.

My buddy Matt Granz and I stared in awe as we set up cameras. The light was simply amazing.

This scene is part of my Seven Days on the Plains timelapse film I released a few weeks ago.

The hand of God

The Hand of God - Oklahoma Panhandle Thunderstorm

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 1/400th // buy print)

When we saw this thing explode along the dry line in the Oklahoma panhandle…it was a sight to behold. It’s weird how stormchasing works. You setup in some location, the skies are clear and you wait. Your forecasting buddies have told you that a dry line will be moving eastward, hitting moisture and instability, and somewhere west of Woodward, OK…storms should start firing off in the next hour.

And then boom, clouds go nuts.

I am constantly amazed at how hard it is to predict weather even with all our technology, but at the same time, I marvel at how much we do know.

This storm ended up being the cell that produced that massive anvil in a photo I posted last week. The scene above was about 15-20 minutes before that.

The way the anvil starts spreading at the top right of the cloud reminding me of a giant hand reaching out. And with an angelic light behind it from the sun…who else could it be but God?

A giant anvil in Oklahoma

(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, iso 125, 1/400th, f/8 // buy print)

This was a storm that had a ton of promise when it first exploded out of nothingness…we watched the entire thing happen in front of us. But it just kind of sat in one spot, looked pretty for a bit, but eventually got busted by a weather term known as a “cap”…a lid on the atmosphere that prevents storms from getting any higher and thus more severe.

A tough image to process from a single exposure…lots of harsh light from behind the cloud. I’ve been using nothing but luminosity masks and levels adjustments in Photoshop lately for all my landscape/storm processing, plus RAW adjustments in Lightroom. Still learning…I love the results compared to ways I’ve done it in the past.

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn - Four Peaks Sun Rays

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 f/2.8 is l, 200mm, iso 400, f/8.0, 1/1000 // buy print)

Yes, it’s Movie Title Wednesday and yes, I’m using a Twilight film! You can blame my buddy Chris DeAngelis for pointing me in the direction of this title. We also came up with Dumb and Dumber, but that was for an entirely different reason that I’m sure Chris would want me to keep close to the vest (insert LOLLING here).

Breaking Dawn. Ugh. I usually do this series to recommend movies, but with apologies to my wife…ugh. I watched it because my wife is hooked on the series (even if she admits its not very good) and also because I pretty much love all things related to vampires and werewolves. But these movies are hard to watch. Our favorite scene in this one is where the wolves talk to each other in their heads. It was probably one of the most cringe-inducing moments I’ve ever had watching a movie.

I will say this though…the title is perfect for this photo! Last Thursday I was somehow home early from my trip to Oregon, and thus was able to enjoy a day of stormy weather in and around Phoenix. I grabbed my gear and my daughter, and we just drove around having fun, seeing whatever we saw. This scene right here was kind of amazing. Mostly because it lasted for probably 30 minutes or so. It’s rare to see sun rays like that for an extended amount of time. I saw them and still had 15 minutes to get to the spot I was hoping to shoot them from. Luckily, they were still going strong.

These are the Four Peaks that you’ve seen me photograph a lot I’m sure, but I’ve never taken a photo of them from so far away.

And that’s a bird flying in the middle of the frame, not a dust spot 🙂

A Brooklyn bench

Brooklyn Bench - Dumbo

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm 2.8 l, 17mm, f/8.0, iso 100, 46 sec, b+w 10-stop filter  // buy print)

I left New York last October with a bunch of photos, but I’ve always come back to this guy as one of my favorites. I dig leading lines…or just lines in general, and this boardwalk along DUMBO had them aplenty. The boards themselves, the railings, the benches…and then the massive Manhattan Bridge in the background.

This is a long exposure processed simply with #VSCOFILM. Thanks again to my buddy Rick Young for letting me borrow his B+W 10-stop and drag it not only to New York, but also on a follow-up trip to Oregon. That dude is one of the best people I know.

I have a bunch of other random shots from NYC and at some point soon I plan on throwing the rest of them into one giant blog post. It’s probably about time.

Sunrise in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Sunrise in Brooklyn Park

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm 2.8 L, 17mm, f/8.0, iso 100, 39 seconds, 10-stop filter)

So I was in New York last Thursday through Sunday, and here I am sitting in a hotel in Corvallis, Oregon. New York was a vacation, Oregon is for my day job. Looking forward to my off-hours in Oregon though, as I plan on hitting the coast a few times, starting tonight.

Since I don’t have a lot of time, I wanted to pass on an image from my trip to NYC. This was taken at 7:25am in Brooklyn Bridge Park. I was there along with a few other amazing photographers and I’ll talk about that whole part of it on another post. Lack of time today. But I have a ton of portraits of the guys I  met and I can’t wait to share them.

This shot includes the Manhattan Bridge, which sits east of the Brooklyn Bridge. I love this little boardwalk and the sun peeking out from under the bridge. The light was amazing.

Click on the image to view it bigger with the border, think it adds a lot to the viewing experience.

 

A gnarled old hand

(click the image to see it fit your screen, or even larger, with a nice, dark background)

I took this shot on one of the very first stormchasing days of the year, which didn’t amount to much. There was some puffy clouds, maybe some spotty rain, but it was really just the slow start to the monsoon season.

This was the day I discovered this tree for the first time. I had my daughter with me and we just pulled off into the desert off Riggs and I-10, and ended up driving out a bit to find this little guy struggling for life in the dry, arid landscape. I’ve posted at least 1-2 pictures of this tree already, but I can’t help it. I love the way it looks. That curving branch that looks like some kind of hand with wicked long fingers just waiting to grasp some unsuspecting passerby. The bit of life left that results in a some greenery not easily seen at first.

Despite there not being much weather, the clouds and sun rays were still amazing, so I tried to frame this tree against the sky so the rays looked like they were almost emanating from the fingers themselves.

I hope this tree stands for years…I’d hate to drive by it someday and see it gone.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/14, 1/125)

Last Gleaming

The Rainy Rock - Sunset Sedona Arizona

The last time I was in Sedona, Arizona, was a drive-by I did on my way back from Williams on a work trip. It was the middle of the day, harsh light and not a cloud in the sky.

Yuck.

Since Saturday afternoon we’ve been enjoying the beautiful red rock country and it’s been refreshing. The temperatures have been downright chilly at times, especially after a good rain. And there has been lots of storms up here.

But this place is just beautiful. My struggle is to capture something that no one else does. I make that my main goal anytime I go anywhere. I didn’t have a ton of time on this trip to take long hikes and explore places that not many people see, so I just tried to look at all the usual stuff in a different light.

I love silhouettes in general and the setting sun provided some gorgeous light against rainy clouds and these peaks surrounding the town. Plus I’m really digging my 85mm 1.8 for these kinds of shots. It makes me really want a 70-200mm where I can really zoom into something and get unique compositions. The cliffs and peaks around Sedona provide some amazingly cool shapes.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/16, iso 100, 1/25)

Welcomed sight

Storm Clouds Over Phoenix

(click to see the image fit on your screen with a black border, or larger if you have an insanely huge monitor)

The clouds in this picture are child’s play compared to what is coming or what I’ve already seen this year. But it doesn’t matter…I am excited about them anyways. We haven’t had rain or a storm here in Arizona in probably a month and nothing like the towering monsoon storms that we get during the summers.

Yesterday officially launched my 2011 stormchasing campaign. I had daughter-duty, so we grabbed toys, snacks, juice, dvd player, movies and whatever else I could think of to keep this kid occupied all afternoon/evening. I grabbed the umbrella (which I knew would be pointless), tripod, camera bag and we ran out the door around 4:30pm. I would realize later that I remembered everything except to change out of my flip-flop sandals into sneakers. Dumb.

There are big ants and sharp pointy objects in the desert…just an fyi.

This is why I love my daughter (well one of the bazillion reasons): Before we left I said to Lyla…“Okay, you ready to chase some storms and see some cool clouds?”

And I swear she goes, without prompting:

“And lightning!”

Love.Her. And she’s just two and a half.

As soon as we left, she looks up…“Daddy, look at the clouds!”

What a trooper. We didn’t get home until 9pm and visited not only south of town but then all the way up to the Beeline Highway/Bush Highway intersection northeast of Phoenix. She was having a ball and it suddenly made this summer seem like it might be a bit more fun on days I take her with me.

We saw some things, ran into my buddy Chris Frailey and shot a bit together, but mostly it was just clouds like this. Rain fell, reports of hail in town…but tiny, brief, isolated incidents. This weekend, especially Monday, looks to be huge and I’m pumped.

Oh, btw, the lower left has some birds flying in the distance, those aren’t dust spots *grin*

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/16, iso 100, 1/125)

Superman

Clouds in the sky from an airplane

(click to see this a bit larger with a darker border)

Perhaps it may surprise you, or maybe it makes total sense, but when I was a kid and thought about what it would be like to have the powers of Superman…I didn’t care about x-ray or heat vision, or super strength, or super-breath or even super-speed.

No, it was the flying. And the picture above is kind of what I dreamed about seeing if I was ever given the gift of flight. Soaring through the clouds, getting to look at them up-close…it was awesome to think about.

So of course I had to link this image to Superman for Movie Title Wednesday. I actually don’t have the love for the movie like you might think considering I was three years old when it came out. When I did get around to liking superheroes and saw the film…it probably already seemed a little bit old to me. Regardless, the first big screen version of Superman was awesome and Christopher Reeve will always be remembered for it. The rest of the films haven’t been that amazing and the latest entry, Superman Returns, was ugh. I absolutely LOVE superhero films, so I’m praying the next release puts Superman back up there with the Iron Man, Spider-man and  Batman franchises.

This of course is another image from my flight to Little Rock a few weeks back. You may remember the previous one I posted, it’s similar to this one, but I think I like this one better. You’ll laugh at me for knowing ahead of time that we’d be hitting Oklahoma around late afternoon, severe weather was in the forecast, so I sat where I sat to get a nice view north. It was all still luck, but when I was looking out the window and saw the dark clouds looming ahead…I felt like I had set this up perfectly!

I’ve never had a flight like this and I dunno if I will again. But if I ever win the lottery or something, I’ll probably hire my own airplane to become my stormchasing vehicle and start shooting this stuff from the sky. Landscapes from the sky are just so epic and breathtaking…it would be fun to do more often.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/7.1, iso 100, 1/250th)