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!
This past spring was definitely a crazy time. I wasn’t even sure how much I’d be able to chase with everything going on, but luckily the storms waited until the middle of May to truly get going and things seemingly had gotten much better then and made chasing possible.
One thing you will notice in this film is a lack of tornadoes. It was a bad year for them right up until July when I stopped chasing! But the structure was magnificent. So many legendary days. I wasn’t even planning on doing a film this year, as I was figuring to do what I did with the previous Vorticity: Wait to gather up two years worth of footage in order to give you nothing but the very best. Incredibly, this year was so good, I had no idea how NOT to do a film, because if next year was anywhere close, I’d be making a 30 minute movie or having to leave a ton of clips on the cutting room floor.
So I started to work on it, first with the music as always…and I love Ryan Taubert. His album “Fool” actually had four tracks on it I love, but individually they didn’t quite have it all. So I spent a few hours, blended four of them, came up with a nine minute song and boom, went to work!
I wanted to do something a little more methodical, slower paced and majestic this time, fitting with the music and the footage. I hope you enjoy that! The lightning was off charts this year for me, so much night-time structure and awesomeness, plus the daytime supercells were incredible.
I want to big time thank my partner in crime this year for about two weeks, Brett Wright. He helped me with our tiny little one-guest tours this year, and having him along to help drive, forecast and make on-the-fly decisions was much appreciated. Moreover, incredibly thankful for our friendship. And to Deran and Kristy, thanks for tagging along! Seeing your reactions and yes, even tears in Kristy’s case, was inspiring!
Thanks to my YouTube peeps, the channel has really exploded this spring, and I appreciate and love all the comments and feedback, despite a few crazies tossed in there 🙂
To my Patreon peeps…thank you for the love and support this past year, not to mention the growth this spring. To Sarah and Samantha, my two top supporters…no words for you two! I appreciate you so much!
Finally, to my wife Jina and the kids. With everything going on with the coronavirus, and putting an addition on our home at the same time, it was tougher being away this spring. No doubt about it. Luckily there were long breaks at home this time with marginal storms to make things easier, but it’s still always a rough time, which is why I stop chasing out there once June is over. I thank them for allowing me to do what I love and to be excited to see what I captured whenever I get home. I love you all!!!
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.
Wont soon forget standing in front of this supercell near Denver City, TX on May 4th. My absolute favorite moment chasing this year. Seeing this sculpted beast was like something out of a dream. I stood here as long as I could as the hail started to fall around me, hoping to get a photo before I had to run. Thanks to one of the camera crew who were following me for hitting the shutter button!
No words for yesterday’s chase. From watching the tower go up just west of our target of Tatum, NM, to this moment near Denver City, TX…hands down, probably top 3 structure I’ve ever seen in person. I passed up some time-lapse opportunities that were insane on the south side of the storm with the updraft, but I knew I wanted to get right on the east side of the storm to get a view of the vault and holy crap did it deliver. Time-lapse dream for me yesterday, but this spot was the icing on the cake.
This season is turning out to be one of the best I’ve seen in years so far, hopefully it keeps rocking.
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.
Not sure what took me so long to get to this one, but one of the more stunning scenes from last spring for me. Long chase on May 29th from north of Laverne, Oklahoma to here southeast of Ringwood. The colors went nuts at sunset and this supercell/shelf cloud looked all kinds of amazing. Had to bail shortly after this to meet up with tour guests in Colorado the next day.
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.
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!
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.