Posts

A supercell near Booker, Texas

The Booker Supercell
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 640, 1/50th, f/5.6 // buy print)

There are no words really to describe the moment we saw this storm. We (My buddy Andy Hoeland and I) had been driving through rain and hail, always on the wrong side when we finally make a gamble to just push south through the storm and get on the far side if we could. When we finally left the rain behind and had a clear look to our west…our jaws dropped. We stopped on top of a hill, got out of the car, set up the cameras and started recording this monster.

Seeing something like this has been a longtime goal of mine. This was my fourth year chasing in the plains and I’ve never come CLOSE to this kind of structure. Pictures don’t do it justice. This was with a 14mm lens. It seems like it’s far away and safe, but in reality it was crazy close and we were ready to bail at any moment.

When I finally had all the cameras going and sat back to just take it all in…tears filled my eyes. I yelled with joy at the top of my lungs, I gave Andy a big hug, thanking him for picking this spot almost a week before as our target location. We heard other chasers nearby hooting and hollering as well. It was a magnificent moment.

This image is actually about 20 minutes or so after our first stop. We never could stay long in one place because the rain was just to our right and bearing down. This was when the supercell started really spinning at the base and pulled up dirt from below.

I will never…in all my life…forget this day.

Different views of this thing, a timelapse and a lot more to come from our trip!

 

Wasteland

Wasteland
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/7.1, 1/320 // buy print)

I’m headed out to the central plains next week to get some tornado chasing in before the monsoon season officially kicks off in just about 15 days. Super excited…it’s like waiting for Christmas!

It feels like it’s been awhile since I posted any kind of storm image, so here’s one from near Toltec Road last summer. Baked, cracked earth and a lone shrub…complete with your obligatory haboob rolling in from the left side of the image.

Actually seemed somewhat strange to get a dust storm in this area near Picacho Peak blowing to the southwest instead of towards Phoenix. They almost always roll up our way.

I timelapsed this at the same time, you can watch that here.

 

The nose of Antelope Canyon

The Nose
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 100, f/8, 8 sec // buy print)

One thing we were thankful for during our tour of Upper Antelope Canyon was our guide.  He rocked at knowing good spots and also for tossing sand in strategic locations.

We had already shot the sand falling on the right side during our first pass through the Canyon, so on our way back he said he could make it fall on both sides. I quickly moved to this spot and was thankful for the 14mm lens I had with me. It was kind of a tiny area, so being able to get that wide was a bonus.

The rock formation in the middle kind of “jutted” out towards me and reminded me of a big nose on an old man’s face.

Definitely loved being able to finally visit this place, but this scene doesn’t tell the story of about 6 other photographers lined up to my right all shooting the same thing. And people waiting behind them to pass through.

If you are a photographer, I highly recommend paying for the two-hour tour because you get more time and also a bit of preferential treatment.

The Twilight Zone

The road ahead
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 500, f/18, 1.3 sec // buy print)

Nothing I like better than a spooky, dark, cloudy scene when it’s storming. Here is one of my favorite roads in all of Arizona…it’s popular of course, for obvious reasons. The long road extending downwards towards the Superstitions in the distance.

One of the cooler spots in Arizona.

I captured this back in February of last year…a beautifully dark winter storm was blowing through and thus I hit the road as per usual. The one thing that seems to pop out in this image to make it extra-special to me is that one headlight. Something about it is ominous and when I looked at it again this morning, the title “Twilight Zone” just popped into my head.

Ahhhh, I’m dying for some stormy weather…monsoon season just over a month away.

Reflections of the Monsoon

Monsoon Sunset Reflected
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/8, 1/15th // buy print)

If you follow my work, you may remember this epic looking, isolated thunderstorm from last year and also the timelapse that went with it. The storm was seen all over by tons of people…cell phone shots of the “UFO” cloud were sent in to all the news stations.

This is kind of the aftermath when it was fading away to nothing…but right as the sun was going down, when that gorgeous anvil cloud captured perfectly the colors of the sunset. We had a bit of a rain storm the day before so there was this massive puddle on the side of the road. Had to use it of course. You don’t get many chances for reflection shots like this in the middle of the desert.

It’s still one of those storms I wont soon forget and I’m dying to photograph some real weather again. The good news is that the monsoon season start date is just over a month away. Hurry on up already!

Thunder on the Bradshaws

Thunder over the Bradshaws
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 19mm, iso 50, f/18, 3.2 sec // buy print)

Someday I’d love a cabin in the middle of nowhere that overlooked a wide, expanding valley such as this one. On late summer afternoons, I’d sit on the porch and watch distant storms head my way over the mountains, the thunder cracking in the distance and rolling over the hills. I wouldn’t grab a camera or my phone or anything…I’d just sit back and soak up the beauty of what God made for us.

Maybe someday.

Spotlight | YoloZona

Spotlight
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 100, 8 seconds // buy print)

I’m a 38-year native of Arizona but there are a bunch of places I’ve never seen. Antelope Canyon was one of those…at least until a week ago today. With some really good friends in town to help me shoot a wedding, we decided to venture north and explore some super photogenic spots.

We paid $80 for a professional photographers tour package, which turned out to be the right decision. The first time you enter in with a guide and another tour group behind you…the pressure is a bit overwhelming. You stop, he tells you to photograph these rays of light coming in, you do your best to get it done in about 5-10 minutes, all the while you have a 1-hour tour group behind you waiting for you to finish. We did get that benefit though for paying the extra money. People would have to wait behind us until we were done getting what we needed.  We felt a little privileged because of it and it definitely helped big time.

The chaos in there is pretty crazy. But even with all the people, there would be times when you might be completely by yourself after the other tours and come and gone. And those moments were awesome.

The hardest part though I think is to pick your compositions without ever having been down there before and having to do it in a quick amount of time. The pressure to rock it was crazy. I think I walked away with maybe three images I really love, but we’ll see once I get a bit more into them.

This image was one of the early beams of light we saw. It’s really incredible actually. I’m not sure cameras can do this kind of thing justice. These focused rays of light in such a quiet place.

Despite all the beauty, the weather nerd inside of me couldn’t help but think about what a deathtrap this place is when a flash flood comes through, and how that’s the way this amazing place was formed to begin with. Over 10 years ago 13 people died in here because it rained 20 miles away and it was clear skies overhead at Antelope. I kept looking around, imagining a torrent of water rushing through here. Spooky.

More images to come!

The colors of summer in Arizona

The colors of the desert
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 200, 1/60th // buy print)

Here’s an early shot from last year…July 7th. I was desperate to get some storm chasing in before our vacation to Missouri, so when the storms weren’t close to home, I ended up near New Mexico. This was along Interstate 10 and Highway 191.

This is a simple photo really, but it also contains so much of what I love about the summer monsoon season. No, there is no giant haboob or rain storm…but this scene literally has all the colors of the rainbow in it. Greens, yellows, blues, purples, oranges. Plus it has the gorgeousness of Arizona…a desert with vibrant green brush from recent rains, beautiful mountains with the last bit of the sun giving them deep shadows…and of course, some dark, menacing clouds.

Supernova

Event Horizon
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 200, f/4.5, 1/320 // buy print)

Here’s a shot from last summer. This was taken from an overpass towards a western setting sun and a sky alive with dust. A dust storm had already blown through earlier and you can see on the left horizon a bunch more getting ready to move towards the right in the frame.

The color of the sky made me pull over. The sun setting coupled with the brown/orange dust gave the scene an erie glow. Almost looked like a bomb had gone off in the distance.

 

Isolated

Impact
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, iso 200, f/6.3, 25 sec // buy print)

Last summer I decided to take a few of my favorite, semi-isolated lightning strikes and turn them into a black & white, “square” collection just for fun. I’ve seen another guy’s work where his lightning strikes are almost solely square crops and I dig that style.

I’ve posted a few already since the monsoon season ended in 2012 (click here to see the others), but I think this is my favorite of the bunch.

I am not sure I can really tell you why either. I know that I love being up high and seeing lightning strike between mountains. That is something I always strive for. It gives a sense of distance and power. But what I also love about this one is the clouds above the strike. I would have a hard time describing to someone the specific kinds of clouds I like when I storm chase, but there is something about these coupled with the strike that I find awesome.

This was from east of Mammoth, Arizona last year…that single storm churned out about three of my favorite lightning images from 2012.