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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)

Saguaro Alley

Saguaro Alley Phoenix Arizona Desert

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Last week Wednesday  marked the first day out stormchasing the 2011 Arizona monsoon. In reality, nothing much happened other than few isolated, brief downpours over Phoenix. I met up with my buddy Chris Frailey who has joined the cause of tossing his gas money down into the gully where I dump mine…and we drove around Bush Highway a bit over by Saguaro Lake and got a few shots, but nothing “stormy” to speak of.

As usually happens, this picture was by accident. I was looking behind this scene as I was driving at some clouds and was trying to find some cactus to get in the shot since there was little else to use in the area. As I got out of the truck, I looked up and saw this lone cloud all lit up by the setting sun and it turned out to be a much better shot than I what I was going for.

I’m pretty beat. This holiday weekend actually seemed to last a looong time, mostly because I didn’t sleep a whole lot. Watched the entire Lord of The Rings: Extended Edition on Blu-Ray, and chased Saturday, Sunday and last night. I have a few lightning captures to post, one of them something I haven’t shot before and it will land on the blog tomorrow for Movie Title Wednesday.

Time for a break though. Tonight, I’m going to sit back and wait to see if any storms roll through downtown Phoenix, and if so, then I shoot, if not, I will be lazy on the couch.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso100, f/13)

Welcomed sight

Storm Clouds Over Phoenix

(click to see the image fit on your screen with a black border, or larger if you have an insanely huge monitor)

The clouds in this picture are child’s play compared to what is coming or what I’ve already seen this year. But it doesn’t matter…I am excited about them anyways. We haven’t had rain or a storm here in Arizona in probably a month and nothing like the towering monsoon storms that we get during the summers.

Yesterday officially launched my 2011 stormchasing campaign. I had daughter-duty, so we grabbed toys, snacks, juice, dvd player, movies and whatever else I could think of to keep this kid occupied all afternoon/evening. I grabbed the umbrella (which I knew would be pointless), tripod, camera bag and we ran out the door around 4:30pm. I would realize later that I remembered everything except to change out of my flip-flop sandals into sneakers. Dumb.

There are big ants and sharp pointy objects in the desert…just an fyi.

This is why I love my daughter (well one of the bazillion reasons): Before we left I said to Lyla…“Okay, you ready to chase some storms and see some cool clouds?”

And I swear she goes, without prompting:

“And lightning!”

Love.Her. And she’s just two and a half.

As soon as we left, she looks up…“Daddy, look at the clouds!”

What a trooper. We didn’t get home until 9pm and visited not only south of town but then all the way up to the Beeline Highway/Bush Highway intersection northeast of Phoenix. She was having a ball and it suddenly made this summer seem like it might be a bit more fun on days I take her with me.

We saw some things, ran into my buddy Chris Frailey and shot a bit together, but mostly it was just clouds like this. Rain fell, reports of hail in town…but tiny, brief, isolated incidents. This weekend, especially Monday, looks to be huge and I’m pumped.

Oh, btw, the lower left has some birds flying in the distance, those aren’t dust spots *grin*

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/16, iso 100, 1/125)