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Back to the Future II

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

I wanted to do a Movie Title Wednesday, but since I released the new website/branding yesterday, this post got bumped until today. I’ve already used Back to the Future as a movie, so I believe this is the first time ever I’ve gone with a sequel!

Usually when there is lightning to photograph, I’m out and about in the early evening getting to where I need to be. But on Monday night, I didn’t leave the house until almost 9pm. We had chilled with friends for dinner and when I got home, I realized a pretty substantial outflow was marching northwest from southeast Arizona.

I expected to be shooting around the Tucson area, maybe south of it, but as I got near, the storms to the east were going nuts and everything south was dying. I ended up traveling along highway 77 through the town of Mammoth for the first time ever. And basically followed this storm all the way back north-northwest to Superior.

Ended up not getting home until after 2am. Was a fun night. Especially when you get a shot like this.

This is a single 25-second exposure. The route was pretty low on traffic, so the odds of snagging some light trails along with five bolts in one frame must have been crazy high.

I figured Back to the Future II worked here…the light trails being like fire trails, and the lightning strikes providing 1.21 gigawatts of awesomeness.  Huge fan of those films. Although #2 is kind of the weaker one IMHO.

Another dust storm rolling through uptown Phoenix

It wouldn’t bee a monsoon thunderstorm if we didn’t have a wall of dust moving through town. Usually though, that’s all we get…but the last two days have seen decent rain for Phoenix. It’s been crazy weather, flash flooding on the outskirts of town and widespread precipitation.

Been a busy summer for the monsoon season. Definitely more active than I remember in recent years.

An isolated thunderstorm at sunset

This was one of the more amazing sights I’ve seen so far this year. Kind of reminds of the other “dying monsoon sunset” timelapse I posted back at the start of the season. An isolated, decaying thunderstorm right at sunset.

Everyone was talking about this one last night. You could see it for miles and miles. What made it majestic, kind of like the other one, is that there were no steering winds, so the storm built up and feel apart without really moving. I always find that utterly spectacular for some reason.

Hope you enjoy. Thanks to Luke Neumann for providing the background music.

Shot this from Gilbert Road and the Salt River. Here’s another shot of it with a wider lens. Click on it for the full effect.

The August 18th, 2011 dust storm

With the massive storms that built up south of town, the dusty outflows formed a beautiful, long wall that gained momentum and pushed its way into the greater Phoenix area last night. I decided to head to the south side of town this time and used Queen Creek’s elevated shoulder near I-10 to get a quickie timelapse of it moving in.

I have to say, all the craze over the July 5th haboob/dust storm was awesome, but I’ve really discovered a love for seeing these things in motion. The way the clouds develop over the top of them, the way the wall of dust itself moves…because it’s sometimes hard to see when you are just standing there.

Had a fun time shooting this last night…a guy who’s car broke down up a few hundred feet borrowed my phone and we talked a little bit about what I was doing. Think someone else gained an appreciation for watching these things roll in since he said he had actually never taken the time to observe one before.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, 290 exposures)

A thing to note about this timelapse. In the beginning portions, the cloud formation on the center-left is actually dropping rain in what we call a “microburst.” This microbrust was right over the San Tan Valley last night and caused all kinds of damage. I didn’t know I caught it until the local Channel 3 meteorologist Royal Norman noticed it in the timelapse this morning.

Microbursts are basically quick downdrafts of rain and wind, sometimes the wind can hit the ground at speeds from 50-100mph and then explode in all directions. Lots of localized damage from storms like this. Below is a sort of “enhanced” still frame of the microburst.