The stormy skies of Arizona

Storming in Arizona - Monsoons

(Click to see larger on a black background)

There is no doubt that Arizona has some of the best skies anywhere in the country, especially during the monsoon season. The desert landscapes, mountains, terrain…they all work together with the clouds to create amazing views. Certainly we don’t get the awesome supercells that the midwest sees, but they get stuck with a lot of the same farmlands and wheat fields most of the time. The diversity of Arizona is incredible.

This monsoon season has been completely opposite of last year for me. I have just a sick amount of lightning shots, but not that many storm images. Last season I had all kinds of sunsets, storm clouds, silhouettes and other kinds of images that I just haven’t gotten this year. I think living in downtown Phoenix has caused that a bit…because last year I could leave just before sunset and be in the desert within five minutes, but now it takes over 30 to get anywhere without population.

Today though there is a great chance of storms and I’m planning on a long excursion starting around noon in southern Arizona to hopefully capture some awesome clouds and storm structures…and of course finish the day off with some lightning photography.

This image was shot back on July 9th somewhere between Phoenix and Sedona on a random dirt road. Although I love shooting lightning, these kinds of vistas are what I long for. Although I really love massive thunderheads…I still enjoy capturing dark clouds and rain falling on the deserts.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/22, 1/25 – buy print)

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.


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)

Lightning strike in Sedona

Lightning Photography Sedona Arizona

With all the excitement of this past week, I haven’t posted a blog or a photo since Tuesday night. For awhile I was too busy to think about it, then I couldn’t do it if I wanted to because the website had crashed numerous times and finally we had to put it on a different server with a static page.

Well, now I’ve moved to a faster, more reliable host and I’m back in the mix of blogging! It’s amazing how much I missed it!

I want to write a lot about what happened with the haboob video, the viral-ness and all that jazz, but right now I’m on vacation for a few days in Sedona with my family.

Of course, I still took a few hours to get outside and shoot some lightning. I had no choice. Sedona was lit up on all sides tonight and the tough part was just aiming in the right spot. I usually don’t catch a lot of “daytime/dusk” lightning, but I got a couple tonight.

This is the first time I’ve ever processed a lightning photo using my vintage preset I created using onOne’s Phototools (which by the way you can get for a smoking deal right now, check it out).

I like it…it’s something different.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/22, iso 320, 0.6 sec)