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Swallowing Tempe

I never end up in Tempe for these things, but the way Thursday’s haboob progressed more north/northeast, and how behind we were, I skipped downtown Phoenix and went to this spot where I’ve shot a ton of times for other things…in fact, some of my very first images I took about eight years ago down here.

It’s a quick spot to get to, with an iconic view of downtown Tempe with the Mill Avenue bridges. The time-lapse is pretty sweet, I got two from here, wish I could have shot two more as looking east was pretty gnarly as well.

Oh and a Southwest Airlines plane is in there trying to outrace it

The Wise Family

Another family session from last year that we didn’t blog but should have. This family. Amazing. So cute and so fun.

And the grandpa from Up is in this. I mean, what more could you ask for?

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Overflow at Tempe Town Lake

Tempe Town Lake Overflow
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/18, manual exp blend // buy print)

Anytime is rains in Phoenix must seem hilarious to the rest of the world. The local news show pictures of running water down gutters, rain drops in puddles and of course you have guys like me blabbing on Twitter about his rain gauge. The amount of rain we deal with is so tiny compared to a lot of other places in the country that everyone else much think we’re just silly.

But you gotta remember…this is the desert, we only average just over eight inches of rain per year in Phoenix. And this past Friday-Sunday my house has seen 1.39 inches in just a few days! That’s a lot for us.

And when is does that out here, things flood, washes run and cool stuff happens. Like in the photo above…the Tempe Town Lake Dam. If you aren’t local, you may not be able to see it right off the bat, but the dam is actually made of giant inflatable rubber tubes.  Each section is 240 feet long and over an inch in thickness. They are durable against UV rays, ripping, etc. and can be deflated/re-inflated in 15 minutes.

This dam is located on the Salt River right in the heart of Tempe, Arizona and creates a little recreational lake for us. But when we get tons of rain, sometimes water is released from the major dams further upstream in the mountains, or runoff from city drainage can cause the lake to start filling up.

This is a sight you don’t see too often. I actually am not sure if the dam itself was lowered at all or is this is just how much water is coming from upstream. Either way, it was a beautiful sight to see against the stormy skies we had last night.

Tempe’s old railroad bridge

Iron Railroad Bridge Tempe Arizona

Yes, it’s man-made, so it’s  not exactly awesome, but we do have a lake in the middle of the Valley called Tempe Town Lake.  It’s actually the Salt River, but a dam has been built to make it a recreational area. We hit this spot for our latest photowalk on June 10th.

Spanning the lake are quite a few bridges and there is also a new pedestrian bridge being built that will demand to be photographed whenever it’s completed. Has a cool looking design, so I can’t wait to see it done.

But anyways, in the heart of the lake are the dual Mill Avenue Bridges, the Light Rail Bridge and this old railroad bridge. This photograph is of that ancient giant beast that still carries train across it. It’s so old though, that you could walk up to it, think it’s out-of-use and then decided to cross it only to get flattened by a speeding freight train. The first time I ever walked on its tracks I didn’t think it was still in service.

The bridge is called the Arizona Eastern Railroad Bridge. Check out this picture from the year 1900 (there are a bunch more here). Incredible. I honestly had no idea it was THAT old. I love seeing these shots of Phoenix and the surrounding cities before anything really existed.

There were a ton of shots I could have done of the bridge and I’d like to go back actually and fine some more, but standing up on this slope I had an awesome view of the base of the iron support stretching across the lake into infinity. In hindsight I may have used a narrower aperture to get a bit more detail further down, but I also really enjoy images that take a slice of detail and keep that area in focus, blurring the rest.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/2.8, iso 100)

 

Downtown Tempe Photowalk – June 10th

It’s time for another photowalk…this time we’re bailing on downtown Phoenix and hitting up downtown Tempe, the Mill Avenue Bridges, the Light Rail and Tempe Town Lake! A gorgeous place to shoot, I’m really hoping we get some clouds at sunset because that can be pretty spectacular. I took the photos in this post on December 29th, 2009. Both back in my overprocessing HDR days, but they hold some fond memories for me. I mean, I just left the house to go shoot that night, it had been planned a week before, and when I arrived at this little parking lot for the photo above, the sky was already changing colors and I rushed to capture one of the more amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen here. Just a great night.

SOooo…here are the details of the walk:

Downtown Tempe Photowalk

When: June 10th, 2011

Time: 6:45pm until whenever

Where: I’m choosing this parking lot on the north side of the lake because of the great views of the city it offers looking south. Then we can walk over the bridges and shoot in Tempe. This MAY change, so make sure to email me or call me to verify. Map of the location.

Cost: Nothing…maybe food, coffee, whatever.

What to Bring: The camera gear you want…tripods, backpacks, maybe some bottled water or a snack.

Fill out the form below and let me know if you are coming!

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Urban Phoenix Photowalk

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The Light Rail Bridge over Tempe Town Lake

I guess I’m not done with stuff I shot in Tempe a few weekends ago. I had some issues with this photo but I worked them out and finally got around to posting it.

This bridge is for the public transit system we call “the light rail” here in Phoenix. It’s kind of slow, it has to stop for traffic lights, cost a lot of money and time, but it’s actually pretty cool that we finally have something like this here in town. This particular bridge goes over Tempe Town Lake and the underneath of it changes colors randomly.  I have a few other shots of it right here from late last year where you can see a couple of other tones.

The lighted bridges in the background is the Mill Avenue Bridges, which are simply beautiful at night with the stringed lights going over the lake. Stunning.

Hayden Ferry Lakeside

This is a photo of the office complex and high-rise apartments that are all part of Hayden Ferry Lakeside. It sits just south of the Tempe Town Lake, which is where it gets its name obviously.

I was wandering through here and just liked the kind of “opening” this water feature made and the structure of the buildings framing the shot. My only regret is that the water fountain is apparently shut off at night, otherwise it probably would have added something great to this shot.

This is probably the final shot from my Tempe photowalk…I have a few more, but they need some more work and I am not sure how much I really like them.

Looking around for the next photowalk soon, although on Friday I’m headed up to Grand Falls and cannot WAIT to see it.

The light rail platform at 5th and Mill Avenue

I took this shot as I was leaving downtown Tempe last Friday night. I had been feeling pretty lousy about the shots I’d taken, they didn’t feel “awesome” and I had no idea what I would end up with. I switched to my 50mm lens when I was walking out and wished I had taken the time to just walk around and snap candid “life” photos of downtown instead of what I had been doing the last few hours.

Don’t get me wrong…I ended up with a few nice shots, a beautiful sunset…but while HDR is great and fun, it’s also a lot of work and it takes me away on occasion from the beauty of a simple shot of a sign on a light rail platform.

I loved this photo, but I loved it even more when my wife said she thinks she’d love to have this printed and on a wall somewhere. She’s always a good gauge for me. Of course, she’s more partial to this type of photography than the grand scale of some of my HDR work.

The Fountain at Mission Palms in Tempe

My tour around downtown Tempe took me through the Mission Palms Hotel and right by this fountain. It’s located in the middle of a round-a-about that serves as the hotel’s main entrance. I plopped down on a curb and grabbed a bunch of brackets ranging from 1-30 seconds.

What struck me most about the shot was just the way the palm trees were lit up from spotlights and the way they served as a pretty sweet background to the fountain. My only wish was that the water spilling over the edges had a stronger flow, because the blur is a little more subtle that I was hoping.

Still, the light catching where the water lands in the basin is kind of cool.

Definitely click on the photo for the larger version, there is a lot more detail in the full-sized view.

Two more sunsets from downtown Tempe

I posted a shot on Monday of the Hayden Flour Mill at sunset, which you can see here again in the above panoramic view of the town of Tempe, Arizona. The sky was cooperative that night and it made for a nice sunset from the slopes of A-Mountain. Click on the photo for a larger, more detailed view.

The shot below is looking north-northwest towards the Tempe Town Lake, also from A-Mountain. I love how it was just dark enough to see the string of lights running across the Mill Avenue bridges, plus a few street lights here and there. The reflection off the building is what makes the shot for me.