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Road to Hell

A beautiful, sculpted supercell roams the plains of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

(Thanks to Steve Baka for the title!)

I left Phoenix last Thursday at 5:30pm and roughly 24 hours later, I was standing here in the Oklahoma Panhandle utterly in awe of this sculpted supercell crossing the highway.

I had been patient most of the afternoon and when I settled in on this cell southeast of Dalhart, TX…it didn’t look like much. But we knew it was still early and the magic could still happen. Sure enough, as it neared the town of Dalhart, it merged with another cell and suddenly the storm began to rotate more and the structure slowly appeared.

57 miles later, and the thing was a beast. So many great time-lapses from this day and the day after…a great start to filming The Chase II…can’t wait for the next time I head out there!

Rapid City IV

A decaying supercell hovers over the Rapid City, South Dakota area, dropping rain and gorgeous lightning bolts.

A decaying supercell hovers over the Rapid City, South Dakota area, dropping rain and gorgeous lightning bolts.

This dying storm over Rapid City on June 1st, 2015 was so amazing…so many bolts came out of it, I was in total heaven. This is the fourth image from this spot that I’ve shared, and I still have a couple more strikes that I might edit at some point!

But it just has me itching to do some chasing…cannot wait to get out there!

Haven’t posted much in the past week, been on a little vacation with the wife enjoying a much needed break from the kiddos and work. Back now though and ready for things to get crazy again!

Colossal

A monster supercell begins to cross highway 385 south of Lamar, Colorado. We had raced north as the rain began to hit us, and we stopped after a few miles to take in the view of this incredible storm and that stunning blue-green hailcore.

This panoramic has been sitting on my computer in seven pieces because up until yesterday, I’ve had zero luck stitching it together. I tried everything…Photoshop, Lightroom, third party pano apps…nothing worked. Not sure why, but major fails on every attempt.

But I updated to the latest Photoshop CC over the weekend and decided to try one more time…and BAM, it worked! Couldn’t believe my eyes.

I’ve been dying to get this thing together, because it’s one of my favorites last year and maybe all-time. Such a beastly supercell south of Lamar, Colorado on May 24th, 2015. Beautiful structure, gorgeous green hail core and toss in the road/cars to give it some scale.

We had been a few miles south watching it approach us, and then we had to race north as the rain/hail began to hit us. We stopped after a few miles to take in this incredible view before continuing on to keep in front of it.

Spring is just around the corner…

Drillbit

As we stood there watching a radpidly rotating wall cloud spin west of Canadian, Texas...a little drillbit of a funnel started to drop and while it never touched the ground that we saw, it was stunning to see in person.

Ahhh…I can’t wait for spring to get here! This was May 27th, 2015…as we stood there watching a rapidly rotating wall cloud spin west of Canadian, Texas…a little drillbit of a funnel started to drop and while it never touched the ground that we saw, it was stunning to see in person.
I think that was the first time I’d ever really seen a funnel form like that right in front of my eyes. So badly wanted it to touch the ground.

Another world

Standing here, near Bledsoe, Texas on the night of May 29th...it felt like I had traveled to another planet. The wind, the storm, the lightning...but it was the surreal orange glow everywhere that created this otherworldy mood which I'll never forget.

Standing here, near Bledsoe, Texas on the night of May 29th…it felt like I had traveled to another planet. The wind, the storm, the lightning…but it was the surreal orange glow everywhere that created this otherworldly mood which I’ll never forget. It was utterly amazing and mesmerizing. One of those moments you wish would never end.

Rapid City III

Another lightning bolt from that beautiful supercell on June 1st over Rapid City, South Dakota. The storm was dying out at this stage, but the lightning was incredible, especially viewing it from up high. So thankful again to my buddy James Langford for guiding me up to the top via cell phone.

Another lightning bolt from that beautiful supercell on June 1st over Rapid City, South Dakota. The storm was dying out at this stage, but the lightning was incredible, especially viewing it from up high. So thankful again to my buddy James Langford for guiding me up to the top via cell phone.

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The Growler

Probably my favorite photo from spending 14 days on the plains in the spring of 2015. This intense, nasty looking supercell was approaching Lamar, Colorado with a tornado warning and huge hail. This was an image I didn't even edit or remember I had taken until well into the summer. What a surprise to stumble upon it.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, iso 100, 16mm, f/5, 1/50th // buy print)

Sometimes an image is so important to you, so special, that you almost never want to share it. Fear maybe? That you will be the only one who loves it? Or once you share it, the rest of your current work waiting for the light of day just pales in comparison?

For me, it’s both. And maybe some other, more personal reasons. I never want to tell people how to feel about my photos. I want them to discover it on their own. So I rarely try to build up an image as one of my best or favorites.

But this one. This one. I didn’t even know I had it for awhile. It didn’t jump out at me at first because it was a quick snap from the road as we stopped for a second to evaluate things. I knew I took it for a reason, but on my computer, the RAW file was flat. One day late this summer, I saw it again and stared at it and was like…how did I miss this??

These are the images I want to capture. A storm’s raw emotion. It’s anger. It’s beauty. The textures, the motion, the crazy colors…and the simple landscape.

This is why I love what I do. I hope you enjoy this one. It’s the best thing I’ve done this year.

(South of Lamar, Colorado, May 24th, 2015)

PS. I will be doing a screencast soon on how I edited this one, if you subscribe to my newsletter, you will get notified when it’s available. Do that right here.

Inferno

Inferno
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/10, iso 100, 0.5 sec // buy print)

I’ve made quite a few trips to the Grand Canyon this year and last, but never have I seen the color and sky like I did a week ago. I went up there of course hoping for lightning, which never materialized…but this blazing sunset was such a treat it made up for everything!

Someday I’ll get the storms I want over that place, but in the meantime…I’ll take a sunset like that!

End of the Rainbow

A powerful thunderstorm that dropped heavy rain and pea-sized hail moves off over Dead Indian Canyon along the Little Colorado River. This canyon eventually connects to the Grand Canyon. As the storm departs, water runs through the desert and a stunning rainbow seems to disappear into the canyon itself.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/8.0, iso 100, 1/80th // buy print)

So many aspects of a storm are amazing to photograph and usually you get stuck wanting to always be in front of it for that awesome structure and lightning and whatnot…but sometimes the departing storm, where you have given up chasing but decide to watch it move off across the landscape…can be just as beautiful.

This was about 14 miles east of the Grand Canyon along the Little Colorado a few days ago. Specifically labeled Dead Indian Canyon on Google Maps…it’s a stunning location. I rode out a pretty good storm along this road, with pea-sized hail and heavy rain…I could see runoff draining through the landscape down to the canyon all over the place. As it moved by though…the sun came out for about a minute and created this beautiful rainbow…and seemingly disappeared into the depths of the canyon.

One of my favorite moments from this summer.

An Arizona Meso

Sometimes in Arizona you get lucky when you're out chasing and happen to stumble on a storm that not only looks pretty great from far away, but it also suddenly begins to form structure on it  right before your eyes and the next thing you know, you have a bonafide mesocyclone. These are kind of a rare occurrence out here, but lately they seem to be happening more often. EIther they've always happened and no one sees them in the wide open lands of Arizona, thus an influx of storm chasers has suddenly revealed these hidden gems...or El Nino and climate change are the reasons. Or a combination of both. Either way...August 2nd south of Holbrook was amazing!
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 100, f/8, 1/60th)

Sometimes in Arizona you get lucky when you’re out chasing and happen to stumble on a storm that not only looks pretty great from far away, but it also suddenly begins to form structure on it right before your eyes and the next thing you know, you have a bonafide mesocyclone. These are kind of a rare occurrence out here, but lately they seem to be happening more often. EIther they’ve always happened and no one sees them in the wide open lands of Arizona, thus an influx of storm chasers has suddenly revealed these hidden gems…or El Nino and climate change are the reasons. Or a combination of both. Either way…August 2nd south of Holbrook was amazing!