Posts

Airplane

Airplane - Downtown Urban Phoenix Reflection

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 30mm, iso 100, f/4 // buy print)

You may know about my love for reflection photos like this one. What you may not know is that I’m kind of specific about when I shoot them.

Like, if someone empties their swimming pool and it floods the street…I don’t rush outside with camera gear in hand. That just doesn’t get me going at all.

But what does motivate me are storms. Of course right? And when it comes to reflections…I like the puddles of water leftover after a good rain. And even more specifically…I like to shoot them at sunset or in the early, cloudy morning. And finally…I need to be in the downtown, urban environment. I could have taken some shots in my driveway this week, but I wasn’t as inspired until I found myself in an abandoned parking lot. Don’t ask me why, it’s just the way it is.

It’s kind of a weird thing to shoot too. You wonder if people are looking at you funny. You are just walking around, tripod in hand…staring at the ground. From 100 feet away, I’ll bet it looks goofy as heck. I love it!

Now I love this shot I posted today, but honestly I think the plane makes it and I never even intended for it to be there. I just liked the pattern in the cement and the glimpse of some powerlines. But as I was bracketing the shot, this plane flew overhead and turned an okay image into some a bit more special for me.

And the reason I like shooting after it rains is the stormy clouds that you usually have and that awesome texture you get in the reflection. Swirls of light and dark…adds an element you can’t really control.

The orange moon

Click to view on black, I think it’s got a much better feel to it.

I’m not much of an astral photographer…star trails, the Milky Way…the Moon…none of these are my strong suit at all. I just haven’t felt a strong desire to shoot these kinds of subjects.

And honestly, the moon has been shot a bazillion times…what else can do you do with it?

But despite all of that, I got up early on Saturday morning to check out the lunar eclipse that was going to turn the moon orange. I’ve never seen that before and the next eclipse of this type wont come again until 2014 (so I heard), so I figured why not try to take a few pictures.

It was a negative 2 degrees (Fahrenheit for my Canadian friends) and I think that was the coldest temperature I’ve ever experienced before. That’s what I get living in Arizona.

All I had was my 70-200mm, and I thought the moon might fill the frame a bit more than it did, but this was the result. No cropping…I kind of liked the descending line of trees so I kept it this way. This shot was the best of the bunch. Right after this moment the sky started going brighter and brighter, and as the moon became fully eclipsed, it was too light out to even see much more than an outline.

Alien

Alien - Boiler Bay Oregon

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm 2.8 l, 16mm, iso 50, f/8.0, 602 sec, 10-stop filter // buy print)

If I had to pick my top five favorite science fiction movies of all-time, I think Alien would be in there, and perhaps also the sequel, Aliens. The second one was fantastic…there was just so much awesome action and memorable lines (“Game over man, game over!“) but the first one will always be a classic. A terrifying trip with some space travelers who are being slaughtered by a creature hitching a ride on their vessel.

For those that have seen Alien, you may already have figured out why I chose it for this week’s Movie Title Wednesday image. One of the more haunting scenes in the movie is when they find the alien spaceship and rappel into the belly of the thing. Lining the floor in a strange mist are all these organic pods, which just happen to be eggs ready to own your face.

Kind of reminded me of the rocks floating in the foggy ocean in my image. And it’s hard to see, but one of them is actually not a rock, but a old, rusty canister, which to me almost looked like an abandoned space capsule. Sweet.

This photo was taken on the Oregon coast in an area known as Boiler Bay. I left my hotel well before the sun came up that morning and was using Google Maps to locate ANY good spot about an hour north of Newport. I came across Boiler Bay and waited until there was enough light to hike down a fairly steep trail to the beach below. I was surprised I found the spot at all…it was a tiny little pull-out on the side of the road and I barely saw it in the dark.

Glad I did.

I believe this was one of my last shots of the morning before I had to book it to Portland and catch a noon flight. I was lucky enough to have perfectly overcast skies to keep my images moody just like I wanted. This particular exposure was done with a 10-stop and lasted just over 10 minutes. Thanks again to Rick Young for letting me borrow his filter.

I badly want to return to the coast of Oregon sometime, perhaps for a week or two. There is just so much to see, so many skies and sunsets to capture with the gorgeous, rocky shoreline. Two weeks wouldn’t even be enough.

Those dark skies

Amidst the Rocks - Monsoon Sedona Arizona

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, 1/15th // buy print)

I was hoping to post a timelapse tutorial today, but I’m on the road and have to get up very, very early Tuesday morning, so I didn’t have time to get all the information together like I wanted.

So instead, you get another stormchasing image! I highly suggest you click on the image today, it seems the WordPress-resized version makes the tree really, really dark, whereas the full-sized shows you a bit more detail.

This was shot back on July 11th west of Sedona. I made the wife and daughter go on a drive with me through Red Rock State Park during some monsoon thunderstorms to see what we might see. I loved all these trees out there, and I don’t know their name or type, but they have some evergreen properties despite being short and stubby.

Of course, you wont know the color of the wood or the leaves because I stole that from you with the monochrome conversion. That’s how I roll these days!

I loved this scene. An awesome tree, some cool rocky terrain, gorgeous, textured clouds and that fantastic monsoon downpour off on the left horizon. What more could this guy ask for?

Lightning. Yes. Wish there was a lightning strike in there somewhere. But ah well…can’t have everything.

Good morning, Kansas

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/8.0, iso 100, 1/400 // buy print)

Please click on this one to view in the lightbox, I think it looks a lot more accurate.

This photo represents such a beautiful moment for me, it’s an image I’ve held back for awhile, for whatever reason. I took it on the open roads of Kansas the second day of my stormchasing trip to the Midwest this past May.

I had landed in Denver the day before around noon, drove to Nebraska’s northwestern corner…then into South Dakota…then hovered around those two states until maybe 11pm. I knew at some point I had to head south because storms would be popping in southern Kansas the next afternoon and it was about a nine hour drive.

So I was up until around 4 in the morning driving into Kansas. I slept in the back of the car until the alarm went off at 6am. And so I kept driving. It was still a bit dark out, but the light was coming up.

And for some reason…it was hazy almost my entire trip out there.

I’m driving down this road headed for the interstate when I see the sun start rising off to my left. I’m tired. I hadn’t talked to another person in quite awhile. There was this overwhelming sense of freedom deep inside me. I had no rules to follow, no one telling me where to go. I just woke up and started driving.

And then I see the sun outlined against this hazy, Kansas sky. I know we all touch up our photos for color, etc., but all I did here was a tighter crop and some contrast in Lightroom. The sky just looked like it was painted on by an artist. And the silhouette of the wind mill is just what Kansas is about to me.

You’ll notice some faint lines stretching across the image. To the right of the image was a very tall antenna of sorts, with these cables keeping it tied firmly to the ground. I dunno…I didn’t mind them much.

I can’t explain too well the feeling I had while taking this picture…but I know it will stick with me for a long, long time.

A gnarled old hand

(click the image to see it fit your screen, or even larger, with a nice, dark background)

I took this shot on one of the very first stormchasing days of the year, which didn’t amount to much. There was some puffy clouds, maybe some spotty rain, but it was really just the slow start to the monsoon season.

This was the day I discovered this tree for the first time. I had my daughter with me and we just pulled off into the desert off Riggs and I-10, and ended up driving out a bit to find this little guy struggling for life in the dry, arid landscape. I’ve posted at least 1-2 pictures of this tree already, but I can’t help it. I love the way it looks. That curving branch that looks like some kind of hand with wicked long fingers just waiting to grasp some unsuspecting passerby. The bit of life left that results in a some greenery not easily seen at first.

Despite there not being much weather, the clouds and sun rays were still amazing, so I tried to frame this tree against the sky so the rays looked like they were almost emanating from the fingers themselves.

I hope this tree stands for years…I’d hate to drive by it someday and see it gone.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/14, 1/125)

Red Dawn

The Guardian - Sedona Arizona Sunset

(click to view larger on a black border…just looks better)

A break from all the lightning and storms…time for Movie Title Wednesday!

One of those movies that I just have to watch if I see it on the TV on a Saturday afternoon is Red Dawn. Granted, I haven’t seen it on the TV much recently and probably have watched it through only a handful of times (the last time being a very long time ago), but it’s still such a fun movie. World War II, Russians attack, Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson…hiding out in the woods, a resistance, fighting back…awesome stuff.

It should be pretty obvious how this film’s title relates to today’s image…but I have to say, it’s really a total lie.

I shot this at sunset. But come on, that movie is perfect for this picture! I’m not going to apologize for it!

Back in early July, our little family spent some time in Sedona, enjoying time away from the heat. Great stormy weather, beautiful skies and of course, the gorgeous mountains surrounding Sedona. If you’ve never been here, you gotta go.

This was down an old dirt road right as the sun was about to drop away. I was struck by the colors and the shadows on the cliff faces, but also with this towering pine tree, seemingly rising above the rest of the forest.

While my HDR processing with landscapes is becoming rarer and rarer, this is indeed a six-bracket tonemapped image. The beauty of this night was the absolute calm weather, which left this tree unmoving for me while I fired off the brackets.

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

Old Man Sunset

The Watcher - Arizona Monsoon Thunderstorms

(Click to watch the storm as God intended…larger, with a dark border)

Scenes like these are the reason why I love chasing and photographing the monsoons here in Arizona.

This was the day before the big haboob arrived in Phoenix. As you can see, dust storms in this state are a normal occurrence during the summer (just nothing so bad as the July 5th one). I was headed south from Phoenix and saw a big wall of dust headed our way, along with a pretty epic looking stormcell. On radar, it was actually headed perfectly towards town.

So I had found this spot the day before and set up here again. I love this old tree. It looks dead, but has green growth on some of the outlying branches. I’ve grown quite fond of it…dubbing it “the old man.” I started running a timelapse and let it go for quiet awhile. I may actually post it sometime soon, but as I am just young in doing these, I moved the camera around a few times, so I need to work a bit on the final product. It’s actually pretty gorgeous how this storm grows, dies and the colors move across it until night falls.

As it stands, a shot like this isn’t super-easy to get. Being able to capture a dying monsoon anvil, complete with awesome sunset colors, PLUS grab a wall of dust moving in front of it…well, it just doesn’t happen much. The only thing that would have made it more rare would be a lightning strike!

Hoping for a few more monsoon sunsets like this before the season ends! Still have a lot of chasing to do.

Last Gleaming

The Rainy Rock - Sunset Sedona Arizona

The last time I was in Sedona, Arizona, was a drive-by I did on my way back from Williams on a work trip. It was the middle of the day, harsh light and not a cloud in the sky.

Yuck.

Since Saturday afternoon we’ve been enjoying the beautiful red rock country and it’s been refreshing. The temperatures have been downright chilly at times, especially after a good rain. And there has been lots of storms up here.

But this place is just beautiful. My struggle is to capture something that no one else does. I make that my main goal anytime I go anywhere. I didn’t have a ton of time on this trip to take long hikes and explore places that not many people see, so I just tried to look at all the usual stuff in a different light.

I love silhouettes in general and the setting sun provided some gorgeous light against rainy clouds and these peaks surrounding the town. Plus I’m really digging my 85mm 1.8 for these kinds of shots. It makes me really want a 70-200mm where I can really zoom into something and get unique compositions. The cliffs and peaks around Sedona provide some amazingly cool shapes.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/16, iso 100, 1/25)

The Return of the King

Sunset on the Kansas Prairie

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to have to find some image to use for the finale of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in celebration of the release of the Extended Editions on Blu-Ray. Well, that release happened yesterday, I received my copy and it’s sitting there looking pretty, waiting to be watched.

The first two movies have been used already, so it was The Return of the King that needed an image. And this is what I came up with.

It may not look like anything from the movie. In fact, I don’t know how to even lie and make you believe it came from it. This is the Kansas prairie. Doesn’t remind me of Mordor, or Gondor, or Rohan…or even the Fangorn Forest (nerd alert!).

But if you are just going off the title, I kind of dig it. For me there is this majestic, powerful feel to the sun bursting through the clouds. It makes the surrounding landscape feel small and trivial compared to this explosion of light. As if something awesome were making an appearance after a long sleep.

If I failed to mention it before, these movies are near and dear to me. The books made a huge impact with me as a young kid. I can’t explain it, but they did. And years later they decide to make real movies about them, and somehow they create a world on-screen that almost completely matched what I had imagined as a I read the stories. It was amazing.

I loved the originals, but once the extended versions came out, there was no reason to watch the shorter one. They just weren’t the “real” story anymore. So to finally have these guys in beautiful Blu-Ray, 1080p high-definition is awesome. Cannot wait to find time to watch these guys from start to finish.

ONE LAST THING…

I’m wordy today, sorry. This image is a bit inspired by my buddy Jesse Pafundi whom I admire big time. His work has changed this year and it’s been awesome to see. At the same time we both had been moving away from HDR being so involved in our workflow…him more than me. I think he’s done away with it entirely. I still use it a lot but with a different approach. But we’ve had long chats about this subject and how we’re changing.

The photo above…I tried it as a tonemapped image and it failed. I couldn’t get it right. And then I realized I didn’t need to. Why was I forcing it? I liked the composition, the clouds, the sun…it just needed a little weathering to look how I wanted it to. Took 20 seconds.

Anyways…don’t be afraid to leave something behind that used to be so dear to you. It was just part of the journey to get you where you are today.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/22, iso 100, 1/50)