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Waves over Phoenix

This is one of those sunrise shots where the textures of the clouds over the city outweigh the need to have color. I don’t normally like to use the same spot twice, especially if I’m shooting with the same lens in the same direction, but on this chilly morning there wasn’t enough time to get anywhere else but up high in this nearby parking garage on 7th street and McDowell.

I’m definitely on a black and white kick right now, I just love how it reduces a photo to the elements you want people to see, instead of being distracted by random bits of colors. Of course, color is important in a lot of places, but I also find it can take away from the main subject matter in some instances.

The color version of this was fine, but once I looked at it in B&W, I loved how the clouds turned into this giant, grey, textured wave over the city.

Sunrise photowalk in downtown Phoenix

A few of my photo buddies from Flickr and Twitter braved the chilly morning weather in Phoenix and joined me on a photowalk starting at the wee dark hour of 6am. We hit some great spots, but the one of the best was arriving at these railroad tracks right when the sunrise lit up for what amounted to maybe 5 minutes of stunning color before it vanished. I used my 50mm 1.4 on this shot instead of the usual 17-35mm that tends to dominate my landscape/urbex photos. I decided the night before that I would stick mainly to the 50 just to see what happened. I love that lens so much.

Below is a shot of most of the crew…Ed, Adam, Denver, Ken, Chris X 2, Rick…a great bunch of guys, we chatted along the way, saw some old buildings, creepy alleyways and even some light rail cars flying by.

The group now knows that me losing lens caps wasn’t just me blowing smoke. Nor is it confined to only lens caps. I left behind my brand new tripod bag in an alleyway and thankfully Denver ran across it. I am completely absent-minded sometimes, ugh. Thanks man.

Hope to see you guys all again very soon. I’m going to wait until people post more images from the day and then do a collaborative blog post later on.

The Towering Inferno

I’ve never seen The Towering Inferno, but considering it stars Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, it’s probably a good flick. It arrived in theaters sometime in 1974, a full year before I was even born. Despite not ever seeing it, I’ve heard the  name multiple times and it was the film that came to my mind when I was looking at this image for Movie Title Wednesday.

I’ve posted a few shots of Chase Tower since moving downtown (here and here), but I end up going back to it when the background and reflections will be different. One day I will probably have a series of images from this very spot with varying types of weather backdrops.  This was sunrise on Tuesday morning and I wasn’t sure if I had missed it or not, but I headed up to the top of a nearby parking garage and suddenly the sky behind (and to the southwest) of the building exploded in a beautiful orange plume of color. Not only that, but the sky to the east of it was also lit up, so you get a reflection off the building.

There is something so simple and stark about a building framed against a sky with nothing else around it. Almost feels unreal… isolated…lonely. I love it.

Been a great week for weather in Phoenix…amazing morning and evening skies, rainy, gray clouds…and more to come.

Autumn in New York

Okay, it’s not New York, it’s Phoenix…but really, this is Phoenix?

The first day of winter is tomorrow, but down here in the desert, fall is in full swing. I’m not entirely sure what kind of trees these are in the picture above, but along with the Chinese Elms and others, the leaves have suddenly started falling all around the downtown area and it’s just beautiful. Having lived in the outskirts of town for awhile, we don’t really see stuff like this too often. Fall leaves, sidewalks that aren’t right on the curb…it’s more like a place back east. I wasn’t expecting to see this at all…and it’s been a joy to drive up and down some of the smaller downtown streets, checking out the older houses and the fall colors.

The more I live downtown, the more I love discovering the awesome little secrets Phoenix has and the moments I can capture on camera.

Sunrise from the Ramp

Way back on October 19th we had a spectacular sunrise in downtown Phoenix after a rainstorm earlier in the morning. I don’t always take my camera to work these days, especially when there is nothing but blue skies all day long. But I had an inkling there would be a good one on this day, so I had my gear with me.

I set up just up the ramp to the 3rd level of the parking structure we use for this building. If I had my choice, I’d be 50 miles away from here with some amazing desert scene to shoot in conjunction with this sunset, but sometimes you just gotta make do with what you have. What I do love about this shot is the great reflection in the tallest building’s windows.

It’s amazing how reverse I am from the normal person, but these sunny day are gloomy too me. Yes, the temperatures are gorgeous right now, which is always awesome. But we had a brief rain storm the other day and it was like Christmas for a few hours. I constantly check the daily forecast looking for more storms on the horizon. Hopefully soon, I need me some fun weather to shoot!

Sunrise over Boob Mountain

I was on my way to Williams, Arizona with my work buddy Jesse, followed up by another guy named Steve in his truck. We had to do a little client support up there so to get to the site by 7:30am, you need to leave Phoenix around 4. These two guys both smoke and so we ended up pulling over on Table Mesa Road for a little morning cigarette break and also to satisfy my need for a sunrise photo. Because man, if I have to get up at 4 o-clock in the morning for work, at least let me get a photograph out of it.

I’m setting up my tripod, Jesse is telling Steve about HDR and why I’m going to end up taking so many exposures, the sky changes to an insane array of colors and tones, and I’m just happy we pulled over when we did.

Now Jesse is a car guy and an off road guy. Rarely does a weekend go by that he’s not out in the desert, squeezing his Toyota pickup through tight spots and narrow canyons. He’s been all over Arizona, seen many things and has been to a lot of places that he tells me I need to photograph.

So as I’m shooting brackets, he leans over to me:

“You know the locals around here call that Boob Mountain.”

I laugh.

“You know Jesse, I’m totally going to post this photo on my blog and call it ‘Sunrise over Boob Mountain’ now right?”

He laughs.

Later in the car.

“Mike, you know I was joking about the name right. I just made that up.”

“I know.”

Fine, I didn’t know, but the name was awesome, we had a good laugh about it and there was no way I wouldn’t end up posting this someday without using Jesse’s made up mountain.

A crisp morning in Canada

I’m posting this image for my good buddy Heath, a great photog (check out his work!) and a Canadian, which is where the scene above resides: Ontario. He’s enjoyed some of my photos from my time there, so I figured I’d go ahead and post one more.

I ran out into this field to grab this image of a tree at dawn. The photo above looks a little more flat color-wise than the one that would be printed, but if you click on the larger version, you can really see the light and shadows on the tree trunk, which gives you an idea of the sunlight just hitting the field. It was also bitter cold, I think around 25 degrees and for a Phoenix boy, that’s DANG CHILLY.

Sticking to the theme of this previous image, Field of Dreams, this one is also overlayed with a texture I shot in Bruges earlier this year. I may do a little more editing on this photo before it’s finalized.

As dead as these scenes look…brown, no leaves, sticks, dirt…I simply love them. I could have been out there for hours finding places like this with amazing looking trees.

Field of Dreams

You know those kinds movies right? You are lazying around on a Saturday or Sunday, you flip the channels, you see THAT movie, the movie that you’ll now start watching, no matter how long it’s been on, and you get sucked in each and every time.

Field of Dreams is one of those for me. There are so many cool moments in the film that build off each other, it’s easy to get pulled right into the plot. Plus, unless you are a brick-wall-of-emotions, it kinds of gets you choked up right?

“Hey dad…you wanna have  a catch?”

Oh man, gets to me every time 🙂

So it’s another Movie Title Wednesday on the MO blog and this is a picture snapped back in Ontario, Canada last December. I think I processed this once, back then, and didn’t like it, so I forgot about it. But my skills with doing HDR have drastically improved since then and this second go-round was much more fun. It’s hard to dislike the gorgeous light coming from the just rising sun that is behind me. The field is made up of dead, harvested corn stalks, which is what made me think of this movie in the first place. The water in the field, if I remember correctly, was partially ice.

The sky was okay in the shot, but a smidge boring for this weather nut who likes high drama, so I mixed in a texture I shot in Bruges, Belgium a few months back. Good tip for you travelers: If you love textures, try to pull your eyes away from the wide angle shots of the city or town you are in, and look closer at the cobblestone, or doors or windows…and find yourself a “memento” that you can take back and use with other photographs. While it’s all done digitally, there was something very cool to me with combining a photograph of a barn in Ontario with a wood texture from Bruges.

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.

Some recent random photos

I take a lot of weather photos and pictures of family, but I’m also branching off into whatever else I find interesting. This website I joined (my profile right here) constantly challenges people to photograph different themes, like Decay, or Halloween, Nostalgia, etc. That motivates me to think more and look for stuff to shoot that I wouldn’t ordinarily go after.

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