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San Simon Supercell

After nine days of no storms, I struggled with motivation, but somehow still dragged myself out of bed last Thursday at 5am to get to the AZ/NM border in time for late morning development. It seemed like a lock for a supercell to form between 10-12 near San Simon and move east into New Mexico. Arrived early, took a cat nap, enjoyed a weaker storm waking me up with rain drops, but I knew the real show was the tail end one rapidly intensifying over the Chiricahua Mountains. Lightning showed up on radar finally and I knew I was in business. I sat back and watched it arrive in San Simon mostly a blob of rain, but then the bolts starting hitting around me and some structure began to show. I headed east on 10 to get out of the precip and avoid the widow maker bolts, but after a few miles I pulled over to a nice high view overlooking this valley. And that’s when this thing rapidly turned into the most incredibly structured supercell I’ve ever personally witnessed here in Arizona. The wall cloud, the vertical updraft, the incredible rain/hail falling to the right and then NUTSO towering lightning bolts landing everywhere. There is actually another faint one on the left. Thankful I pushed myself to chase this and feel lucky to have been on this guy for the 20 minutes it was awesome. The time-lapse is great, look for it in Monsoon 6!

Reverent: A 8K time-lapse film

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Song by Bullet & Cass: “The Way You Do” // http://bit.ly/TheWayYouDoITunes // http://bit.ly/TheWayYouDo // http://www.bulletandcass.com/

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A couple years ago I made a black and white time-lapse film just for fun, and now here we are with the third installment in the series. It’s a way to play around in the winter months with something new and different, get creative and also help pass the time until spring returns!

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with this one, and couldn’t even find the perfect song for it, until the duo Bullet & Cass emailed me about wanting to use my footage for their upcoming debut single. I get a lot of those kinds of emails, so I didn’t think much of it…until I clicked on the preview links for their two tracks…and wow, I was blown away by how much I loved “The Way You Do.” A few seconds into the song, I was immediately laying down tracks to it in my head. I listened all the way to the end and knew I had found my song. We did a straight up trade…footage for the track, and the editing began in earnest.

After I finished editing back in November, I needed a title. It took me weeks. The song has a sort of folksy haunting old west vibe to it (at least to me) and I needed the perfect name to go along with it. I finally pulled up a list of old west terms and when I stumbled across Reverent…I knew it was the one. Not only did it sound and feel right, but it actually is how I feel standing out there a lot. These storms are powerful and deadly, and sometimes you are just staring out at them with this deep respect and admiration for what you are witnesses. Or perhaps, in my case, for the one who created it.

I hope you enjoy this film as much as I do. All footage in it is from 2019, with some unseen monsoon clips in there as well. Definitely felt like it was taking a risk on the song choice itself, especially as lyrics aren’t my normal deal. But I love it, love it, love it and I hope you do too! And if you do, please visit the links up top and buy the single and check out their website!

Technical Details:

Everything shot with two Canon 5DSRs and various Canon lenses. A couple lightning sequences with the Sony A7R3

All clips available in 8K Resolution

Processed in Lightroom, LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro.

Willcox Shelf

One of the best nights of last summer…September 1st, sitting here just NE of Willcox with my buddy Chris Frailey shooting lightning for over an hour. We were in such a good spot to watch it get close, but never really overtake us, so we score far away bolts, then super close strikes…and this beautiful shelf cloud rolling towards us with tons of lightning underneath it.

Dry Lake

September 1st, the night that keeps on giving haha…so many fun lightning shots from that chase, here’s one looking towards the dry lake bed near Willcox from near the Kansas Settlement. I got this on wide angle which I would have preferred, but it was set to ISO 2000 for time-lapse and the bolt just blew the crap out of the shot. This was fun despite wishing I had a tad more foreground.

This was 2018

One of my annual traditions around these parts is to post a nice recap of the year in photos. They range from road trips with friends,  family pics, wedding, photoshoots and of course, storm images. It felt like a different year overall, a little more subdued, with spring chasing offering slightly less excitement this time around and a couple less weddings. But wow it was a blast of a year regardless!

The year kicked off at a little shoot with a former bride and groom from Australia and their new baby girl, and then I was off on a road trip with Jay, Jason and Andrew to Death Valley and the eastern Sierras. From there it was wedding season, then storm chasing on the plains, followed by epic haboob and lightning action across Arizona during the monsoon, and finally fall weddings and family portraits. Toss in some wonderful family moments, it was a year to remember.

It also marked my fourth year as a full-time photographer and it keeps getting better and better. I still feel incredibly blessed that I get to do this everyday.

Hope you enjoy this look back at some of my favorite images, including at least a photo from almost every wedding and family session!

Blue Canyon

Never edited this guy back from September 2017 up at the Grand Canyon…mostly because of a big water spot, but I cropped it out and decided it was worth posting! This was the end of a wonderful 24 hours up at the Canyon, my best time up there in six years of trying. The day before there was lightning in the afternoon, then sunset and finally later at night right out over the ditch. I slept in the truck knowing more storms were set for the next day and sure enough, severe cells with hail exploded and moved across the Canyon during the late morning, capping off a fantastic trip.

Intensity

A new image I never edited from September 5th, 2017…one of the most spectacular monsoon scenes I’ve personally experienced…the light was so intense from the setting sun, so magical…the color out of control, that I just stood there in awe. Toss in a rainbow, gorgeous desert cactus and shrubs and a strong downburst over Organ Pipe and it was almost too much haha.

Missing this stuff.

White Tanks

August 14th I was down in Tucson finishing up my second Monsoon Workshop of the summer, and after we broke camp around 11am, I hit Benson first and captured some daytime bolts near there, and then raced up to Phoenix for a nice line of storms moving down off the Mogollon Rim.

As the sun went down, the storms moved through town and I decided to skip all the buildings and blast to the west side to get in front of the outflow boundary. Sure enough, as I got here west of Buckeye, storms exploded over the White Tanks and put on quite a shot of bolts. Love this one, 30-second exposure with a bolt hitting on the east side and then one on the west side near Sun Valley Parkway.

Crazy enough, ended up back on I-8 east of Gila Bend around 1:30am still shooting. What a wild night. Miss it.

Stranger Things

July 17th was an awesome afternoon of chasing in southern Arizona with supercells, severe storms and some nice structure. As night hit, the storms intensified and a couple strong ones moved west towards Ajo. This spot is west of Maish Vaya just after getting out of the mountains and we had this awesome view east as it kept racing towards us.

This shot immediately reminded me of Stranger Things…the big Shadow Monster crawling over town in the Upside Down 🙂

Spinner

October 1st was my final chase of the monsoon this year and it was a wonderful way to bookend a spectacular season. This image was taken along the AZ/NM border late in the day. A low-topped supercell with a wall cloud spinning to the north as it slowly died out. This is basically the closing image from the year for me, although I still have lots to edit. After this storm faded, I turned and headed for home and that was all she wrote.

Didn’t even know the time-lapse caught a lightning bolt until weeks later, which was a pleasant surprise!