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The open door

(click to view image larger in lightbox for a better look)

My life has become a lot about where I am currently located these days…either Phoenix or Las Vegas. The project at my day job has gotten really busy up there so my presence has been required more. It’s hard to travel to much, because I hate being away from my girls. But traveling does give me chances to see new places.

One of the recent visits I made included a trip to the ghost town of Nelson. I was a bit bummed to find out that the actual “real” ghost town part was still inhabited by people with lots of huge “No Trespassing” signs everywhere. In this kind of town…it’s a bit more dangerous to venture onto a property with one of those signs. You’re likely to get nailed by a shotgun or something.

Further down the road, however, I discovered that there was a sort of “touristy” version of Nelson with a lot of old vehicles, barns, mining equipment, etc., all laid out. I walked around it a bit…but I honestly felt little desire to photograph old things that had been places there for tourists. I’d rather find them in their natural element, if you get that.

One image I did take, the only one…was this old bus. I loved the setting sun shining through the windshield and the open door, making it something more unique than just a another photograph of an “abandoned” vehicle.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/5.0)

 

We Are Here

(Looks even more abandoned by clicking to view in lightbox. It also may help finding the title of the image a bit easier)

Saturday was awesome.  I mean, yes, the agreed upon meeting time was 3:45AM…but it was still all kinds of fun.

Pretty much all on time (except for me who needed some Tums after a harrowing night of America’s Tacos, Killians Red and ice cream), my buddies Ken Peterson, Rick Young and Chris Frailey met me up at Carefree Highway and I-17, ready  and geared up for an all-day, epic adventure in northern Arizona. The plan was to hit the ghost town of Two Guns around sunrise, shoot random stuff all morning, eat lunch and then trek out to Grand Falls for the afternoon.

And that we did and it was fantastic. Had a blast hanging out, shooting, goofing off, making fun of each other and generally being in photography heaven.

This image above looks nothing like a ghost town, although it’s definitely not been lived in for awhile. The structure belongs to an old motor home camp site that was just a few hundred feet away from what remained of Two Guns.

The thing about northern Arizona are the wide open, beautifully blue skies that mix with gorgeous clouds. I rarely shoot a landscape when there aren’t clouds involved and I loved the way these kind of framed the “A-Frame” structure. Like my shot on Monday of Grand Falls…this image was made possible by my handy-dandy circular polarizer.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/13, iso 100, 1/80 sec, circular polarizer)

 

 

The Remains of the Day

(Please click on the photo to see it larger…my lightbox plugin gets lonely sometimes)

Today’s Movie Title Wednesday film may be obscure for some of you out there. In fact, it’s kind of obscure for me too considering I only saw it once and it came out in 1993. My wife (then girlfriend) and I worked together at a movie theater back in those days and so we’d pretty much see everything that came out as long as the reviews were decent.

The Remains of the Day was a classic, well-done film. At least, I remember thinking it was one of the good ones. Check out the rating it has on IMDB…8.0…that’s high. I don’t remember much about it other than Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson were in it and it was one of those period-piece movies that not as many people go to see as they should.

My wife and I used to crave seeing stuff like that and it kind of makes me miss those good ol’ days. If you want to broaden your horizons a little bit, check it out…the performances are superb.

This photo is part of my little “Reflection” series that I started last week with a shot called “Criss Cross.” The movie’s plot doesn’t necessarily correlate too well with the image above, but the name of it certainly has quite a few layers of meaning.  The shot was taken after a rainstorm in downtown Phoenix after the sun had just disappeared. So you can kind of see the rain being a “remnant” of the day’s storm. It also should be fairly easy to connect the number “24” to a certain amount of hours in a day. There might be a few other links to the title, but I’ll let you make your own conclusions.

If anyone wonders how close I was to changing this series to TV Title Wednesdays so I could use a certain show starring Jack Bauer…it was definitely on my mind. *grin*

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/10, iso 100)

Grand Falls: A short little video

(Make sure to watch the video in 1080p glory!)

As promised, I put together a short little video on Grand Falls from our trip this past Saturday. If you watch it on YouTube, you’ll see a lot of links to other Grand Falls videos, some of which really show the power of the Falls when they are at peak flow. I think this is probably the only HD video of Grand Falls out there, but I really hope to someday capture them going nuts like in some of those others.

The Falls are just amazing. I hope the video gives you a better impression as to the scale of them, because it’s not always easy to tell from a simple photograph. My daughter did her best impression of a foreground object and I think it helps a lot *grin*

Next year I plan on doing a lot more video and also hopefully a long time-lapse. This was the first time using my 5D Mark II for video and sadly there’s a nice dust spot on the lens (My Tamron 17-35mm 2.8), plus some herky-jerky movements. Hopefully it doesn’t induce any motion sickness for you all.

I have to say…I do love the quality of the HD video though…pretty remarkable. Can’t wait to dig into it more. Will be using it to document some of my stormchasing adventures this summer.

The Grand Falls

(click on the image to see it full size or at least fit your screen for we with smaller resolutions)

Saturday a bunch of us, including photographers, wives and my little girl, all ventured up to northern Arizona to see the annual, gorgeous display at Grand Falls. The Falls don’t flow all year for the most part, they are the result of snow melt in the early spring or flash floods during major rainstorms.

I need to get to bed and have an early, early Monday morning trip to Vegas where I’ll be all week, but I wanted to post this shot from our trip. The day was absolutely perfect except for some very windy conditions. The clouds were magnificent and the skies a dark, rich blue. I don’t know what it is about northern Arizona, but with the clarity and richness in those skies, a circular polarizer is your best friend.

Lots more to come from the trip…including a gorgeous sunset and some high-def video of the Falls themselves, so you out-of-state-ers can get a better idea of the size and scale of this place. It’s absolutely a must-see.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/10, iso 100, 1/125sec, circular polarizer)

The Gap

(To get more up close and personal, click on the image to view in lightbox)

Whatever. I love road shots. I’m sure people know this about me…but I make no apologies. Sometimes I think it’s almost cheating to shoot on the road, because you really don’t put a lot of work into it right? You just pull over, walk to the middle and shoot. It’s not like I hiked four hours to the middle of Yellowstone to capture something never seen before. I just stepped out of my car? It’s almost lame right?

Well, I think road shots helps capture the beauty of a country from the view that most of us see it from when we’re driving across it. But also…the way I treat road shots is that I’m looking for something unique. Shadows. Clouds. Landscape. Interesting features. I don’t just shoot any old road. There has to be a huge reason to make me pull the car over.

For example…in the image above: If it had been a clear day, I would never have stopped. It also just so happened that I LOVED the way the mountains and road basically disappear at a little gap in the horizon. I mean…that’s awesomeness right there.

I pay attention to how clouds contrast with the road too. Usually any type of clouds will work, but sometimes the best ones have opposing lines, or even parallel lines. The movement or direction of the clouds helps provide a contrast with the direction and look of your road.

I took this a few weeks ago as I was leaving El Dorado Canyon and the Nelson area. I was racing to capture the sunset that I posted on Wednesday (otherwise known as Se7en). But there was no way I was going to pass up this shot.

ON ANOTHER NOTE: Check out Chris Nitz Lego Wars competition! All the entries are in and they are fantastic!

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/11, iso 100)

Se7en

Powerline Sunset in Nevada

(Click to view in lightbox, the choice of a new generation)

If you haven’t seen the movie Se7en, then you probably wont get how it connects with the image above. You probably wont get the horrific moment it represents in the film either. And I don’t want to give anything away for people who still want to watch it, so I’ll do my best to just skip those details.

Needless to say, when I was processing this photo…it was suddenly obvious that it was going to be used for Movie Title Wednesday. I think I even may have had an inkling when I was standing out there taking this.

On a side note, I still am having so much fun with this series. It’s amazing how many images you can take…things that may be similar in a lot of ways (like the bazillion sunsets or sunrises I post) but somehow you find something unique in each of that that can relate to a movie. I love it.

The movie Se7en stars Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman back in their younger days, and revolves around a serial killer that murders people for breaking The Seven Deadly Sins. It’s gruesome, brutal and I absolutely loved it. One of those great, great thriller/horror/crime films that will always be remembered by movie fans. The scene depicted by the above photo was one of those that will forever be stuck in my brain.

This was taken a few weeks ago during my latest trip to Las Vegas. I had just returned from exploring El Dorado Canyon and the Nelson ghost town area, and was racing to find a great location to capture the sunset. The spot above is situated south of Boulder City and lies in a very wide, bowl-shaped valley. These powerlines in some areas stretched forever, and you could see them for 10’s of miles as they would go up a distant hillside. The symmetry was awesome, and so when the sunset arrived, I knew this is where I wanted to be.

Because of the aspherical aspects of my Tamron 17-35mm, the powerline towers are a bit flatter than reality (even after lens correction), but you can kind of see how the road goes on and on and on forever and the towers go right along with it.

This was taken just a few days before the Super Moon and you can see it in the upper right corner.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/14, iso 100)

Criss Cross

Criss Cross - Downtown Phoenix Reflections Rain

(image looks sharper and clearing by clicking on it to view in lightbox)

I rarely do “series” on my blog, because if I do they just get strung out for weeks at a time since I like to change things up on a daily basis. At that point it’s hard to keep track of them. But yesterday I started an “Over the Fence” series and today this is kind of the beginning of what will start out as a small “Phoenix Reflections” series.

Last week after we had a rare moment of rain, I decided to head downtown around dusk to get some reflection shots. My Dark City image last week was the first shot I took, but then I forced myself to start looking “down” instead of “up” or “out.”

Sometimes if you want to stay on task, you just have to make yourself focus.

So I found a nice, flat parking lot full of large puddles and started exploring their reflections. It was a beautiful time of evening, with the sun having just set, some murky clouds hanging around and awesome contrast in the asphalt with the striping. I made it a goal to keep the reflections based around the buildings around me.

Had a lot of fun and wished this particular moment in time had lasted three hours instead of 20 minutes.

I have a few more shots from that night, but this may become an ongoing series depending on the frequency of rain we get here…so it may be months *grin*

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 27mm, f/10, iso 100)

The Seam


(clicking on the image may not give you a larger view depending on your resolution, but it will frame it in a lightbox nicely)

Traveling is harder for me than it used to be. I still hated being gone for weeks at a time from my wife, but now that we have a little girl…it’s a lot harder. We use FaceTime on the iPhone all the time now when I travel and while it makes things easier…it also kind of makes it more difficult to see those faces and not be close to them.

I used to just sit in my hotel room and veg out on these work trips, but lately I’ve tried to pass the time I’m away by exploring the places I’m staying. These days that is mostly Las Vegas.  I’ll get done working around 4-5pm and hit the pavement with the rental car to find something interesting out there. Last week it was Red Rock Canyon and the town of Nelson…both areas within about 45 minutes or less of Las Vegas.

The image above was taken in Red Rock Canyon, simply a beautiful place to explore. There is a nice road looping through the area with cool stops along the way…plus vistas that are definitely unique to this park. The photo may be a bit deceiving in a way because the red area up top isn’t really part of the foreground formation, but belongs to a  larger hill behind it.

I did something I don’t usually do with this photo…because of the wide angle and the closeness I have with the ground right in front of me…I shot two sets of brackets in live view. The first set I focused on the rocks in the background to get them crisp, and then I focused the next set on the foreground right in front of me. I then tonemapped both sets of exposures and blended them later in Photoshop before stylizing.

In hindsight, I have no idea why I wasn’t maxed at f/22 on this shot for this very reason…but that is likely one of those moments where one cannot recollect what your mind was thinking at the time *grin*

On a side note, my buddy Brian Matiash has been posting some of his own awesome shots of Red Rock and here is his similar entry from last week. I love the different looks he gives you with each of his shots from this area.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/16)

Serenity

(Click to view larger and sexier in lightbox)

I’m been on a Firefly kick the last few weeks, so it makes complete sense that when I looked at this image tonight, the name of the movie came flying at me.

For those that don’t know, Firefly is an awesome, awesome sci-fi TV show that the Fox Network brutally, and without just cause, canceled before it had a chance to really find legs. They only aired about 10 episodes and all told there were 14 made which you can see on DVD now.

It had such a big following that the ended up making a movie to essentially give the TV series a rightful ending. It was called Serenity, which is the name of the ship in the movie/series. The lead in the show was Nathan Fillion, the captain of Serenity and you may know him from the current show Castle (which I love mostly because of him). It’s hard to describe what is so appealing about the show to people. I mean, it’s basically like a sci-fi western set in space. It doesn’t sound too great.

The writing was amazing though. It was so unique and had its own style and language…it was brilliant. And the entire ensemble cast meshed so well together from day one that you instantly fell in love with them all. Fillion was excellent though…he’s one of my all-time favorite actors now.

All I can say is to go rent the DVDs and then cry when they end and you wish for more. Then watch the movie and cry again that is over. You’ll love it.

NOW, the image above. I’ve been holding onto this thing since the end of January. I have a lot of love for this photo and at times never wanted to post it. The motion in the clouds is so beautiful to me. The single yucca stem rising from the ground gives this feeling of peacefulness and solitude. More to the point of using the title from the film…it’s serene. It’s also a desert setting, which you see a lot of in the movie/series.

This was on a rainy morning of course and to me, there is nothing more relaxing than watching storms drift by and the occasional drops falling on the roof.

What’s fun about photography is the unexpected shot. I climbed this hill because I saw a ton of Ocotillo Cactus peppering the landscape behind me. After all this effort to get up there, I hated any of the compositions I came up with. Instead, I turn to leave and spot the scene above. I go for the forest and end up with the opposite. Ironic.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100)