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Juxtaposition

High and Low
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 70-200 f/2.8 is l, 100mm, iso 125, f/6.3, 20 sec // buy print)

Feels like it has been awhile since I posted a lightning photo from this past summer and I still have gobs that I haven’t shown yet…so here is another.

Last year I decided to do a “square collection” of lightning photos all processed in black & white. This is the second in that series. I love the mood that monochrome creates for lightning images and I think the square format kind of isolates the subject in a unique way. This was taken out along Interstate 8 east of Gila Bend. I dug the juxtaposition of the one strike hitting the flat desert while the other appears to land on those two small hilltops.

Summer feels like it’s so far away.

 

 

Crossing Interstate 8

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, f/6.3, stack of nine images shot at 25 seconds each // buy print)

This is my second go at stacking lightning images (first is here)…I tend to avoid this but sometimes when a single shot of lightning is kind of boring and doesn’t make the cut, it’s interesting to see what happens if you put a bunch of those together into one final photograph.

I shot this back on September 4th while this storm crossed over Interstate 8 from right to left across the frame. The nine images were captured from 9:15pm to 9:21pm.

I’m neck deep in weddings and family photography right now, but yeah, I’m kind of excited already for next summer!

 

Con Air

(click image to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, iso 400, f/8, 1/80th // buy print)

Back in late July on a random storm chase down in Tucson, I ended up close to the Boneyard, so I thought I’d try to frame some of these amazing old airplanes against a monsoon sky. It wasn’t super easy, as every yard has barbed-wire-laced chain link fences surrounding them. I pulled my truck up to about 2 feet away from a fence, got up on top of the roof and shot down into the yard. Was actually kind of interesting because it was like the truck was a moving tripod and I repositioned a few times to get the composition I wanted.

I believe when I was taking the shot, 50% of the motivation was so I could use it for Movie Title Wednesday, haha. Con Air has been a long-time favorite of mine…Malkovich, Buscemi, Cusack…Cage…”Put the bunny…back…in the box.” There is nothing about that movie that isn’t awesome. Great lines, great actors…glorified, over-done action scenes. So good.

These boneyards would be such an amazing place to photograph for a day or two. Endless fun.

 

Top to bottom

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/6.3, iso 250, 20 sec // buy print)

One of my favorite kinds of lightning shots are from a distance when you can see the entire profile of a thunderhead. If you can capture the strike coming out from the cloud and then hitting the ground…well, it’s just a fantastic display of nature. I’ve seen quite a few of those floating around from my storm chasing friends but I never have quite been able to capture it that way that I wanted.

This one is about the closest I’ve come to it. A twenty second exposure, you can see the one strike on the left actually originate near the top of the thunderhead, curve to the left, burst through the ceiling of clouds and then hit the ground. Was an amazing storm to watch as it crossed interstate 8 from the north. The mushrooming clouds were absolutely sick and I kept praying to get a great shot.

Taken on September 4th, this was a week before the season ended. I kind of miss it already, but am loving being neck deep in family and wedding photography right now!

 

 

Page Ranch Road

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 200, 1/15th, f/? // buy print)

You know I’m a sucker for road shots. Honestly…when you are out chasing storms, sometimes that’s the best composition. And you gotta take advantage of it.

This was an image from the first few days of this year’s monsoon season. I was about to go on vacation for a week, so I was determined to capture as much as I could before leaving Arizona. On this late afternoon, I found myself in the southeastern part of the state…on Page Ranch Road near Highway 191 and Interstate 10. I was timelapsing a few things and waiting…knowing the storms would either get to me from New Mexico or they’d die out.

They didn’t really make it…but I was left with a beautiful monsoon sky as the sun went down…incredible pinks and purples and oranges.

A couple of bolts over Tucson

(please click to view larger // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 26mm, f/14, iso 100, 4 sec // buy print)

The evening of 8th of August was an extraordinary one up on A-Mountain on the western edge of Tucson. This was the same night with the sunset-rainbow-lightning combination and I actually have 2-3 more shots I will share at some point down the road.

This was when the color was just about gone, so I opted for B&W, which is one of my favorite ways to process lightning photos anyways. You gotta love Tucson with the city lights, but also majestic mountains right on the north and east sides of town. Makes for such an awesome skyline.

The monsoon is on a break now and I’m hoping and praying that we still have a few days left before the winds shift and I don’t get to shoot lightning for another 9 months!

The open heavens

The heavens opened - monsoon sunset arizona

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 35mm, iso 200, f/5.0, 1/100th // buy print)

I love taking pictures of lightning…it’s one of my favorite things when it comes to weather photography. But I also just love the raw power of a thunderstorm. And the beauty they contain.

This rain shaft…was a powerful thing. As I was driving west, I watched the base of the cloud get dark, textured and nasty. Next thing you know a wall of rain is falling to the ground. Most of the time this is enough to be a gorgeous example of nature…but on a lucky occasion you get to witness something like this with fantastic sunset colors mixing into everything.

I’ve seen sights like this before and it’s always incredible how the light and color from the sun bounces around these clouds and rain.

I couldn’t take enough pictures of it.

The season is winding down here…in fact, today may be the last good day left. There might be some spotty, random days before the monsoon is truly gone, but we’re close to the end here.

 

A barrage of lightning over Phoenix

The amount of times I’ve stacked lightning images to create one mega-photograph can be counted on a single hand. And this is the first time I’ve ever posted one.

I was never a fan of stacked lightning shots until I saw an amazing one by Dan Ransom and then Justin Terveen’s image from Dallas. Suddenly I was like…okay, they CAN be interested in the right context.

For me personally…this image is the result of all the individual shots being kind of boring. I’d never post one by itself because it lacked awesomeness.

But together…they kind of show you the power of a monsoon thunderstorm. This is a stack of 12 images over the course of 10 minutes. Looking north from 7th street near McDowell.

 

Thor

Thor - LIghtning on Interstate 8

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, f/6.3, iso 800, 20 sec // buy print)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Movie Title Wednesday and I’ve missed it. So today we’re back with a flash and a bang and a crackle…a lightning strike worthy of the gods.

I’m a huge comic book fan and everything Marvel has done with their superhero movies has been amazing. Creating these separate movies like Iron Man, Captain America…the Hulk…Thor…and then throwing them together into The Avengers was perfectly executed and unlike anything we’ve seen before. The Hulk movies may not have been awesome, but they made up for it with the Hulk stealing the show in The Avengers.

So I dub this lightning photo “Thor“…because it could actually serve as a scene of the god of war coming down to earth. At least I think so. This is one of my favorite strikes to-date. I took a chance here with ISO 800, but I really wanted to illuminate the clouds on an awesome strike and I got lucky enough to not have a blown-out scene. I love the way it starts up high, you can see it in and out of the clouds and then it crashes down to earth with multiple bolts.

And this was 17mm too, uncropped…pretty dang close!

A fantastic storm in the vicinity of Gila Bend last night. I had given up after some other storms died without me even taking the camera out of my bag…but then I looked west, high-tailed it that way and got a couple of awesome strikes on camera.

Thunderstruck on Interstate 8

(please click to view on black and so it fits your screen // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/5.6, iso 125, 30 second // buy print)

Last night started off with a beautiful little photoshoot I did with a sweet 90-year old woman and her recently married granddaughter. I arrived at the lady’s house down in Casa Grande about 15 minutes before a large dust storm rolled through town. We braved the dirt, got a few fun images and then headed back inside. I knew once the shoot was over, I would likely head west along Interstate 8 because earlier models had shown storms would propagate that direction into the evening. Sure enough, a massive wall of lightning and rain was moving slow to the west and I figured I could catch up.

South of Gila Bend I ran into a group of stormchasers from Oklahoma and the United Kingdom, a few of which I had already been friends with on Facebook! Was so awesome to run into them and hear how excited they were for every lightning strike, the huge dust storm that hit us on Sentinel Road and just the fun of being out there. The UK folks don’t get lightning like that out there, so this is a stormchasing holiday for them and I wish them the best of luck!

This capture was taken just minutes before all the storms died out for the night. It felt super close, like within 1-2 miles at least. This photograph is cropped to the left side of the image I captured because I wanted it centered, but you can get an idea how close it was considering it’s a 17mm focal length on a full frame.

One of the more exciting, up-close lightning strikes for me this year!