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Then the morning comes

Superstition Morning Sunrise Cactus Saguaro Arizona Desert

(Website note: My images are now clickable and displayed in a handy-dandy lightbox. Please check it out, let me know what you think!)

When you are advancing in your career or just going down the path of life, people tell you never to look back…just worry about what’s ahead. What’s coming. No need to relish on mistakes or even past victories…it’s all about the future.

I think photography may be the one place where that advice is completely wrong. I wont even get into the benefits (for me) of seeing where I’ve come from and how I’ve changed, but mainly want to stick to the physical implications of “looking back.”

There is a trail in the middle of the photo above. I ran up it quickly to get in place for the sunrise (in 34 degree weather…brrrr for this desert rat) because there was a nice cactus that you can see up aways AND it had a nice height to overlook the entire area. I spent some time there, I loitered, I got some shots…but then it was time to go because I wanted to look for some new scenes.

As I was leaving down the path, I remembered how often it’s paid dividends in the past…so I turned around. Obviously we all have our own ideas of good composition, but to me this was the one image I would end up taking away from stopping at this location.

Never forget the value of turning around or looking back when shooting sunrises, storms or landscapes.

I don’t know how to describe the mornings here in Arizona…especially the open deserts. I hope this image conveys it to you. As a matter of fact…and it may seem funny considering all the time I spend shooting out there…but this shot and this particular morning kind of restored or rebirthed my love for photography. Not that it had really gone anywhere…but it had been awhile since I’d been out in the middle of the cactus and rocks…shooting the still morning without a soul in sight.

Kind of like coming back to that one book or movie you never get tired of watching. It feels like home.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso100)

Canyon Lake Monsoon Panoramic

Sometimes it’s hard to capture all the detail you want in a single image, so you have to go for the panoramic. I definitely recommend clicking on the photo to see the larger version. This picture is from my recent stormchasing adventure with my buddy Bryan. We drove down Apache Trail towards Canyon Lake and stopped just a little short of it to climb to the top of this hill to see what we could see.

Yes, I’ll verify that Bryan warned me that we were watching an approaching monsoon thunderstorm and the hill we chose to shoot from also had a couple of giant supports for powerlines on it, but that’s for the faint of heart to worry about!

What we loved about this spot was the color of the hills in contrast to stormy skies in the background. The sunlight from behind us still shown a little on them and it made for an awesome sight. You can see Canyon Lake on the left, with a massive downpour behind it. Some more rain is falling just behind the hills in the center of the photo, and the entire storm was moving slowly towards us.

By the time we climbed down and drove a little more, it started pouring pretty good.

Those hills and mountains around the Superstitions really created some amazing vistas to use when photographing our beautiful monsoons season here in Arizona. Hoping to get out there again sometime soon.

For those interested, this is a merge of three HDR shots created from three-bracketed images each.