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Mike & Lia’s Engagement Session in Sedona

Mike and Lia, Sedona, guzzling champagne from the bottle and an epic sunset. Perfection.

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Bubbles III

With light waning in the day and not wanting to chase tornadoes in the dark, we decided to sit and watch this incredibly peaceful scene of mammatus clouds moving away from us over the Kansas prairie.

May 24th of last year was an amazing chase day. Last week I posted some supercell photos from earlier in the afternoon and this was one of the final scenes of the day. We knew there was a potential for tornadoes east of us but chasing in the dark and catching up with them seemed impossible, so we say back and took in this breathtaking scene. I’d never seen mammatus like this in person before and it was incredible to behold. The day was almost over, but we still had an awesome lightning storm headed our way that we’d enjoy for a few more hours yet!

Sunset over Tempe Town Lake

Sunset over Tempe Town Lake
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, f/5.0, iso 800, 1/160th // buy print)

Life is so busy right now that I rarely get out to take photos unless it’s a wedding or lifestyle session. Let’s just say I’ve seen a ton of great sunsets and sunrises from my house lately.

Even last night I had a photoshoot. So normally I wouldn’t get to take a photo like this, but I happened to be returning from Mesa and the sky went NUCLEAR and I flew to the off-ramp at Scottsdale/Rural, parked in a spot I probably shouldn’t have and ran like an idiot about 500 feet to the water’s edge.

It felt amazing to actually be in a spot with a lake, a reflection of the sky, Tempe and A-Mountain in the background and a gorgeous sunset. Made me realize how much I’m missing just being out in nature capturing awesome skies and beautiful landscapes.

Going to have to go on a road trip soon.

Reflections of the Monsoon

Monsoon Sunset Reflected
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/8, 1/15th // buy print)

If you follow my work, you may remember this epic looking, isolated thunderstorm from last year and also the timelapse that went with it. The storm was seen all over by tons of people…cell phone shots of the “UFO” cloud were sent in to all the news stations.

This is kind of the aftermath when it was fading away to nothing…but right as the sun was going down, when that gorgeous anvil cloud captured perfectly the colors of the sunset. We had a bit of a rain storm the day before so there was this massive puddle on the side of the road. Had to use it of course. You don’t get many chances for reflection shots like this in the middle of the desert.

It’s still one of those storms I wont soon forget and I’m dying to photograph some real weather again. The good news is that the monsoon season start date is just over a month away. Hurry on up already!

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.

Titanic

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 1/15th // buy print)

Movie Title Wednesdays are now few and far between these days, but I stumbled upon this image last night and realized I never posted it and felt like it was about time. I dubbed it Titanic because my wife has looked at this scene twice now and that’s the first movie that pops into her head.

And yeah, I love the movie. Can’t help it! Man card turned in!

But the way this old pier and that lamp post are covered in calcium deposits…it truly does look like the pictures we’ve seen of the Titanic. This image was taken at Bombay Beach along the Salton Sea in California back in January of this year. I made the trip with some friends from Phoenix and we met up with my buddies Heath O’Fee from Canada and Chris DeAngelis/Doug Wise from California. We had a spectacular time and on our first and only visit to Bombay Beach…couldn’t have asked for a better sunset.

This image actually fits even more for Movie Title Wednesday because it’s kind of a prequel. A week after our visit, I posted a photo from this same spot taken at 6:00pm. You can click right here to view that one.

The photograph above was taken at 5:52pm, just eight minutes earlier. Kind of amazing how much the sky changed in that short span of time. This image was always my favorite of the two because of the way the last rays of sunlight hit the lamp post and a few areas of the pier.

Definitely loved going back to that day and finding a few more images to post. We all had such an awesome time, that will of course be one of my favorite photography trips ever…and mostly because of the guys I was with.

A lucky lightning strike at sunset

(click to see on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 35mm 1.4, f/5.6, iso 200, 1/1000th // buy print)

If you watched my timelapse last week, then you’ve already seen this image. I also posted it it on 500px, so you may have seen it there too. But I felt like this still frame deserved it’s very own post on my blog because I absolutely love it and it’s why I am so obsessed with storm chasing.

One thing that’s always been true for me when I’m out chasing…is that I tend to get my best images where I least expect them. Last Thursday my goal was to blast down to Tucson right at sunset to shoot some lightning. That was my whole reason for going. And yet, I was stopped just short of Casa Grande when I saw this cloud turning into something amazing right before my eyes. Whatever I had planned down in Tucson suddenly evaporated and I knew this was the best thing going on at that moment.

It’s kind of what I dig about chasing the monsoon. And it also makes it hard sometimes. I leave the house a lot completely unsure of myself. Will I get anything tonight? Will it be a bust? How can I get something new or different? What if last season’s lightning barrage was it for me?

And then as I’m driving I see a cloud like the one above and I remember why I do this and how it usually works.

Just to speak about the image for a second. This was part of the timelapse as I said. So at this point in the capturing process, I was taking a photo every 4 seconds. The shutter speed was 1/1000th. I shot for around 40 minutes. And in that time I saw less than three lightning strikes.

And somehow…I got lucky enough to get one here. I mean…4 seconds apart at 1/1000th! The odds must be incredibly high. It makes me so incredibly proud of this one!

So thrilled to get this last week…on only my second day out chasing. Going to be a fun season!

Unforgiven

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 l, 17mm, iso 50, f/22, 1/15 // buy print)

If you are new to the blog, I usually reserve Wednesdays for movie themed images…something I like to call Movie Title Wednesdays. Genius right? I’ve been doing this for quite awhile now…in fact, if you click on the tag at the bottom of the page for “movie title series” you can look back at all of them.

This week we’ve got Unforgiven, a Clint Eastwood film that came out my junior year of high school. Crazy long time ago. Probably the fact that I was 17 and a moron, led me to feel like the movie was boring at the time. And then it won an Oscar for Best Picture. I’ve still only seen it that one time. I would love to re-watch it someday and find out why it got that Oscar. Likely due to the fact it was a sick cast of Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman I reckon.

So when I finished this image up and was thinking about a movie title, Unforgiven immediately came to mind. This desolate beach landscape on the western shores of the Salton Sea was almost like something out of a nightmare. Crunchy ground, soft in places, the smells of dead fish and fowl filled your nostrils…and then you see all these dead trees that appear to have had their tops sheared off as it from a bomb blast.

Definitely an unforgiving world…and unforgiving landscape.

The Rock

The Rock - Canon Beach - Haystack Rock

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, 0.4sec // buy print)

I am in Corvallis, Oregon for three days this week for my day job and was absolutely blessed with an opportunity to go to Cannon Beach on Monday before heading down south. It allowed me to witness one of the most breathtaking sights in America. At least…one of the most amazing places I’ve seen so far in my life.

Quickly though…it’s Movie Title Wednesday and the choice for this image was obvious. The Rock. Nic Cage. Sean Connery. Alcatraz. Yeah, it’s a crazy, over the top movie, but I loved it. It’s right up there with Con Air in my book. Good, fun, guy flicks.

This is Haystack Rock, as if you didn’t know. It’s one of the more iconic locations in the United States. It’s very shape is usually enough for people to know what they are looking at.

What’s amazing to me…is that no photograph I’ve seen does it justice. Much like the Grand Canyon…you can’t look at a photo of these places and get any real idea of the real scope of them. You have to be there. You have to see it with your own eyes. You walk up to it and it just towers over you. Birds fly around at the top and they feel so far away.

It was a 90 minute or so drive to get there from Portland, and then it was a three hour drive to Corvallis after sunset, and I didn’t get to my hotel until 11:30 last night and I’m paying for it today.

But I wouldn’t have missed seeing that place for the world. I was hoping for some gorgeous sunset color, but then again…you know me…dark, moody…stormy…that’s my kind of weather!

As I said above, but in case you missed it…please click on the image to view on black…it’s also shrinks it to fit your monitor and is the actual size of the exported image, and thus looks more accurate!

The Forgotten

The Forgotten - Bombay Beach - Salton Sea

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/22, 117sec // buy print)

The Forgotten is a not-so-great film with a pretty great title, so I’m using it this week for Movie Title Wednesday! When I look at this image, the word “forgotten” is the first thing that comes to mind.

The movie itself stars Julianne Moore and is a sort of creepy, sci-fi, horror-ish kind of tale. I honestly don’t remember much other than Moore and seeing a dude get sucked through the roof of a cabin. I’m a sucker for sci-fi films in general and I do feel like I enjoyed this one. But judging by the 5.7 on IMDB, it wasn’t the best-ever reviewed movie. Check it out though if you are in the mood for something different on a Friday night.

This image comes once again from the Salton Sea. The movie title encompasses not only this particular photograph, but in reality, the entire Salton Sea area. It’s so strange that this place exists in the middle of California. At one point the plan was to turn it into a resort and amazing getaway location. Instead you now get to see a land that time forgot. People still live out there, amazingly…but it’s a weird kind of existence.

Bombay Beach was where this image was taken. I urge you to click on it to see it bigger and sharper. I once again have to thank my buddy Chris DeAngelis for letting me use his 10-stop filter (I now have my own, yay!) to get this long exposure. I processed this using tonality control and luminosity masking, which I discovered through an amazing photographer named Zack Schnepf. Now, usually when doing that, I’m going for a natural look, but this scene demanded more and so I added some apocalyptic tones to give it an extra punch.

Next week I head to Oregon for 3 1/2 days and expect to be able to do a bit of 10-stop photography along the coast. I’ve been there once before and it was amazing fun. Can’t wait to get back.