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Windmills and Lightning

Windmills
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35 f/2.8 l, 23mm, iso 200, f/8.0, 1/20th, lightning trigger // buy print)

On a day with only a “see text” chance of severe storms, I decided to risk it hoping I’d at least see some lightning and perhaps some cool structure. I followed storms for hours, as they started in southeastern Colorado and slowly moved to the northeast into Kansas.

The main cluster I first encountered and stuck with, ended up being the storms of the day in our neck of the woods. After awhile a shelf cloud appeared, lightning started getting more intense and the fun started. This is a photo east of Leoti, Kansas…I stopped here so I could timelapse it moving by with windmills in the frame, and with the other camera I started testing my new Lightning Trigger. I was stoked to look back later and saw I captured a bolt. I have to say, that trigger is worth every penny.

Lots more to come from my trip!

A Colorado gust front

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, iso400, 1/250th // buy print)

Gust fronts are pretty cool to see. What you see in the photo above is akin to a tidal wave that has passed over you, heading for somewhere else. That hard edge is the front and all the creepy clouds behind it are in its wake.

These are also known as outflow boundaries, which is what we see A TON of here in Arizona during the summers. Except ours usually include a giant wall of dust to go with it. Out on the Colorado plains, there was some dust, but mostly you just had crazy strong winds and a wicked sky.

My wife Jina loved this image and picked up on something I didn’t…the juxtaposition of the green wheat and the dead field on the other side of the road.  I was there, so it didn’t stand out to me as much as the clouds did. I find it hilarious what I can miss in my own images…God bless my wife.

Not too long ago I picked up a cheap-o Rokinon 14mm manual focus lens to use for timelapsing while stormchasing this summer. With an extra body now for weddings, I’d like to be able to timelapse and take normal photos with two wide angle lenses at the same time. Shouldn’t have sold the old Tamron 17-35, but I did when I bought the Canon 17-40.

Anyways, since this lens is not only manual focus, but also a manual aperture, I don’t remember what f-stop I was at for this! But regardless, I love the lens…so crazy wide, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

 

Legends of the Fall

A sea of wheat -

It’s another Movie Title Wednesday around these parts and this one was admittedly kind of hard to match with a film. And if you think, Field of Dreams, already used it. My unwritten rule is to never use the same movie twice, which is getting harder and harder.

Thus today we have Legends of the Fall, it kind of fits this image, although I can’t really tell you much about the movie itself. I usually try to stick to films I love or at least enjoyed, but I don’t remember either way on this one. Brad Pitt before he was Brad Pitt…Aiden Quinn, Madeline Stowe…all that is from memory. And of course, Anthony Hopkins. They lived out on a farm, there was a love triangle I think and yeah, that’s all I remember.

Now…this was another “farmex” image shot this past May, whilst in Kansas, stormchasing non-existent storms. I probably could have forgotten all about the weather and just shot this kind of stuff if I hadn’t been out there for the reason I was. Regardless, as I drove aimlessly through these old farm lands, I was subjected to a feast of abandoned beauties everywhere I looked.

The wind was breezy, which provided some kind of cool motion in the wheat fields that extended out forever in all directions.  I wouldn’t have minded getting a little closer to this old barn, or farm, or house or whatever it was…but it was kind of creepy out there and I also didn’t want to upset the neighbors, not to mention I was actually out chasing weather.

As it was…I kind of liked it from this spot.

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/3.5, iso 100, 1/1600 – buy print)

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)

A tree in the wind

(click to see a bigger tree with a nice black border)

Time for a nice little break from all the storm photos! So sometimes you get shots on purpose and most of the time it seems they come from unplanned moments or complete accidents.

While I was in Kansas awaiting a line of storms to move into my vicinity, I sat at a pull-out and took a nap. I hadn’t slept but two hours in the last 30, so I was beat. I woke up about 30 minutes later and of course had to use the restroom. There was a lot of traffic on the road, so I wandered away from my car around some haystacks to find a little privacy. Yeah, I took my camera. I dunno why, I think I wanted to make people driving by think I was actually out taking pictures, not trying to relieve myself.  Maybe because there was a gas station across the street, but I was just too lazy to drive over there. Who knows. I had just woken up!

Either way, I wandered around a bit and saw this tree moving with the wind. It was just a tree along this recently cut wheat field, but I think it was the way it looked swooshing around in this strong breeze that caught my attention. I also had my 50mm on the camera and opened it up to f/1.8 and focused on the nearest leaf to me, leaving the rest of the tree falling off into bokeh-ville. I saw it on my screen after shooting it and fell in love with it.

There is something beautiful to me about the sound of a tree blowing in the wind. I think I sometimes link it to the approach of a coming storm…where it’s been quiet, but the wind picks up, the leaves start rustling around and you know something is on the horizon. I watched the tree for a few minutes before moving on.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/1.8, iso 100, 1/1250th)

Forrest Gump

(Click to see the spooky house larger in all its spookiness. Looks better with a nice, dark border)

For any new readers, it’s Movie Title Wednesday on my blog, where I try to link a photograph I take to a movie I’ve seen…and enjoyed.

Definitely up there in my Top 10 All-Time Movie list is Forrest Gump. Heck, it’s impact on our culture was big enough to warrant an actual sign on the highway that Forrest Gump “ran” on during the movie (see Kristi’s photo). It was a movie where I felt like I kind of sat there with my mouth open at times, completely sucked into the story that was unfolding before me. I think the first time I saw it was at the same time that a new theatrical sound system had been released and I just remember the auditorium rocking with all the big moments.

If you haven’t seen the film, I would be shocked. But if you really haven’t, go check it out…Tom Hanks is amazing, the writing, the acting, the story…it’s brilliant.

I was a bit curious when writing this up on how many people would know the way this relates to Forrest Gump without me connecting the dots. Take a guess and then read on.

If you recall, Jenny was abused as a child by her drunk father and years later returned to her old home…an old house on a farm completely falling apart. She starts throwing rocks at it and afterwards Forrest has it bulldozed to the ground.

It was always an important scene in the film and it’s one of the first things I thought of when I passed this abandoned farm house out in Kansas last week. I knew right away that I’d process it in a creepy way to really bring home that scene in the film and how it might have looked to Jenny standing there so many years later.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 27mm, iso 100, f/16)

A Kansas sunset

A sunset in a wheat field in kansas

(Click on the image for a larger-than-normal view…also makes the wheat field a bit more visible)

There was something special about this sunset. I don’t know what it was, but when I was crouching down in front of this wheat field, I was in awe. Here I was, in western Kansas, in a place I’d never been before, in the middle of nowhere, not a sound but chirping birds, not a car to be seen…witnessing something beautiful.

The irony is that this was our last gasp for a storm on Wednesday before it was time for me to go. My buddy Shane and I had seen these things popup out of nowhere, so we turned the car around, drove up this highway and waited. After the sun went down, these clouds got closer and closer…and even though we knew deep down inside that there was a 1% chance we’d get a storm from these…we watched until the bitter end.

Despite the symbol of failure this final chance gave us…it was also incredibly moving. The little journey I went on somehow led me to this place to see this thing.

I’m glad I have some images like these to look back on. Most of you know how disappointed I was afterwards when I didn’t go out there to get what I wanted.

But perhaps I got what I was supposed to get?

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/16, iso 100, 1/20th)