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Approaching

Approaching
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8, 16mm, iso 100, f/5, 1/100th, handheld 7-image stitch // buy print)

Wow, yesterday was amazing…with this being the grande finale. An approaching severe thunderstorm with a leading shelf cloud edge. These use to be a rare sight in Arizona it seems like, but this monsoon has been completely insane. Beautiful structure and amazing storms. This looks like a plains-like supercell despite not really having a rotating mesocyclone.

This was south of Glendale road just west of the 101 in the west valley. I time-lapsed this beast from around this point until the blowing dust (you can see some around the base) hit me. You’ll be able to see it at the end of the year unless I get antsy to post it sooner.

Thunder and Stars

Thunder and Stars
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, iso 4000, 16mm, f/2.8, 20 sec // buy print)

I’ve been chasing storms like crazy for almost six years now. During that time I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Milky Way just hanging out with a thunderstorm brewing nearby.

This past Saturday I pulled off at a favorite spot, got out of the car and saw the Milky Way just up there, hanging out, watching some lightning. Blew my mind. And this thunderstorm to the left was going nuts. I’m almost always out at night to strictly photograph lightning, but I knew I couldn’t pass up this amazing opportunity, so I started time-lapsing the whole thing.

I haven’t posted it yet, I may save it for my end-of-year film…but suffice to say, I’m stoked about it. The stars of course were awesome. But the lightning was non-stop. I took about 450 photos for the time-lapse, all at 8-seconds, and there was some kind of lightning flash in every shot. It was unbelievable how active these storms were.

Stuff like this is why I love chasing storms. I’ve been out hundreds of times over these past six years, and still I get to see something new on a regular basis.

 

15 Seconds

15 Seconds
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/11, iso 200, 15 sec // buy print)

July 31st was a pretty amazing night for lightning. This storm just exploded over Wickenburg and didn’t move much and didn’t send any outflows at me. I just sat around for almost an hour capturing bolt after bolt.

This was only a 15-second exposure, but there are six strikes plus maybe a seventh off-camera. An amazing display of power…it’s the kind of lightning-fests I live for!

Highway 74

Highway 74
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 200, f/11, 10 sec // buy print)

Last night I went up I-17 just a little ways to see if the outflow headed south would do anything. I quickly figured it wasn’t going to happen, but as the outflow starting shifting towards Wickenburg, I thought something might happen there. There were some cells along I-10 popping up and I just figured there might be a collision of outflows near Wickenburg. That place is a hot bed at times, so I dropped to Highway 74 and blasted west.

As I drive along, a strong cell popped up north of Wickenburg. And then suddenly a little one goes up right to my south. I thought I saw a flash, so I stop and look up and boom a huge bolt lands just a few miles away. I scramble out of the car and setup…and this is one of the shots I got. I’m looking south from 74 at the town of Whittmann, AZ. This was a 16mm lens, so you can get an idea of how close I was to this thing. I love it when I can be right up on a storm like this, especially where there is still a bit of daylight left.

And as I’m sitting there watching this one, a massive storm forms right over Wickenburg to the northwest. It ends up being an epic night of lightning capturing. I have more bolts than I know what to do with and the problem with that when you do this enough is they all tend to look the same after awhile, so despite getting over 100 shots of lightning, maybe 5 or 6 are worth posting.

We’ll see though. There are some good ones in there! More to come!

Inferno

On Fire
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 400, f/4, 1/100th // buy print)

An amazing sunsets east of Sonoita, Arizona. The sky was on fire from a monsoon thunderstorm and the setting sun of course, but an actual wildfire was off camera left of this image, which created a sky full of smoke and only enhanced the colors this night. I was amazed when I turned from the fire to look at this mountain…that the field of grass was actually reflecting the reds and oranges. It was stunning.  A rainbow can faintly be seen over the mountain peak.

You can see more of the wildfire pics here and here.

I typically use luminosity masking and level adjustments these days, and this image is no different. No vibrance or saturation adjustments to up the color. All the color was already there waiting for me to bring it out. It’s the reason I stopped to take the photo in the first place…I felt like everything surrounding me had an orange and red glow.

My only regret with this image is that I shot it at f/4. It was raining, there was a fire burning across the street so I didn’t take the time for a tripod. It’s actually quite sharp all the way through, but I still wish I had shot it at f/16.

 

A sunset south of Sheffield, Texas

Sunset south of Sheffield
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8, 16mm, f/5.0, iso 200, 1/125th // buy print)

Sometimes the light and the sky after a storm passes is just as good as the storm itself. This was south of Sheffield, Texas, after we photographed and timelapsed a bunch of gorgeous shelf clouds and hail cores. These clouds were moving fast overhead and the light from the setting sun created this moody sky.

I still love being in the middle of nowhere, having a beautiful sky like this and walking out onto a road to snap a photo. It’s something about the silence of no other cars, city sounds or anything else. Just a rumble of thunder and the snap of a camera.

Can’t wait to get back to storm chasing next week! The monsoon is almost back.

A Colorado sunset

A Colorado Sunset
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8, 16mm, iso 100, f/8, 1/50th // buy print)

Sometimes you do all you can to get in front of epic supercells for those amazing structure and lightning photos…only to find out that a retreating cluster of storms at sunset can be equally as beautiful.

This was from last week on Interstate 70 on Colorado’s eastern border. We were chasing these storms in hopes of getting to the other side for some lightning imagery, when we realized we just had to stop for a few minutes. My dash Sony Handycam, that does my live stream feed, was bringing out some contrast that we couldn’t see with the naked eye too well.

And when I walked out and took a shot with my 5D3…wow, it really popped. It was almost like the camera could pick out the separation between two storms right there in the middle of the road. More than I could see with my own eyes.

Glad we stopped.

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!

In the field

In the Field
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 100, f/16, 0.5 sec, Lightning Trigger // buy print)

Earlier this week I decided out of nowhere to fly out to the plains to chase me some storms for two days. I didn’t even make the final decision until 12:45am on Tuesday, which was 5.5 hours before my flight left. But I’m glad I went. This was taken yesterday north of Blair, Oklahoma. I recently picked up The Lightning Trigger after the Nero one failed me miserably last year (hat tip to Ruth Montgomery for showing me how good this new one is), and luckily it was just in time for this trip.

I caught all kinds of strikes, but this one was the most crazy. The bolts were landing all around me, so I quickly set up the camera and jumped back into the car. I didn’t even see this strike because I was looking at radar or something, but I definitely saw a huge flash and the crack of thunder was amazing. You can see where it lands, which I guess was about 1/4 mile away or less. Super close, it was pretty freaky to have strikes everywhere. What a blast!

Lots more to come from this trip…photos and some cool time-lapses!

 

A Brooklyn bench

Brooklyn Bench - Dumbo

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm 2.8 l, 17mm, f/8.0, iso 100, 46 sec, b+w 10-stop filter  // buy print)

I left New York last October with a bunch of photos, but I’ve always come back to this guy as one of my favorites. I dig leading lines…or just lines in general, and this boardwalk along DUMBO had them aplenty. The boards themselves, the railings, the benches…and then the massive Manhattan Bridge in the background.

This is a long exposure processed simply with #VSCOFILM. Thanks again to my buddy Rick Young for letting me borrow his B+W 10-stop and drag it not only to New York, but also on a follow-up trip to Oregon. That dude is one of the best people I know.

I have a bunch of other random shots from NYC and at some point soon I plan on throwing the rest of them into one giant blog post. It’s probably about time.