(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 400, f/8.0, 1/160th // buy print)
This was the best storm I saw all of 2013 in Arizona. At the very least it was in the top 2. The low shelf cloud that appeared out of the rain was an amazing surprise, but there was also blowing dust and crazy lightning strikes. You can see the other shots from this cell right here.
I captured this one using a Nero Lightning Trigger…although I wouldn’t recommend one. I was actually surprised I got this because I had a lot of bad luck with it, loose cables and eventually it just stopped working. I recently picked up a Lightning Trigger IV and am looking forward to that this spring and summer.
The fun part of this strike is that it’s VERY close. A lot closer than it looks. 17mm lens on a full frame sensor…and it almost takes up the entire field of view. Not only that, but in the picture below, you can see the orange spot where the lightning strike hits the tree line…and that tree line was about 1/4 mile away from me if that.
A fairly unusual looking bolt as well…almost looks like a squiggly line, not the jagged strikes you usually see.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 21mm, iso 400, f/8, 1/160th // buy print)
Last Friday night I had a gallery show at Obliq Art in downtown Phoenix, and it sorta got my juices flowing again for some storm chasing. So I figured I’d start the new year off with another image from last summer.
This was an image from that epic storm in the Marana area north of Tucson. I posted one a few days after the storm that had a sorta “supercell” look to it…and it was one of my favorites from 2013.
But I love this one too, for two reasons. One…the lightning explodes from the main bulk of the storm and then pierces the shelf cloud below it. I love the two exit points. And finally…the semi-truck being there to give some scale to an otherwise large, boring farm field. Plus you also have some great blowing dust showing the powerful winds that were going on (which would eventually knock over my camera).
Ah…memories. Already getting excited for my annual plains trip at the end of May!
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 400, f/8, 1/160th // buy print)
Wow. What a day yesterday. A rare one that will remember for a very, very long time. I drove through some of the most severe conditions I ever have before in this state. Rain blowing sideways, gusts of 50-60mph…almost zero visibility because of the heavy rain…it was crazy.
Cells began to develop around the Tucson area and west of it around 1-2pm, moving towards Phoenix, so I piled the kiddies in the car and we made our way down. Unfortunately on this day I wasn’t streaming live video because one of my cables was broken. What an epic fail!
Regardless…when we got down to the Red Rock community, I started seeing little shelf clouds on a few of the cells. To my west was an insane line of storms, but to my south was a massive storm exploding over the north side of Tucson. We went west a little but got blocked by water on the dirt road (which was a HUGE blessing in disguise), and we were forced to turn around.
I got back to this farm land and decided to start timelapsing the little shelf cloud I saw…and while I was doing that, the thing evolved and turned into one of the most epic storms I’ve EVER seen in Arizona. I would compare it to either the giant haboob of 2011 or earlier this year when I caught the hail core down near Douglas.
The timelapse, when completed, will give you an idea of all the movement…the dust, the rain, the shelf cloud that explodes from out of the storm, the lightning…it was crazy. This image above was actually made possible by my Nero Trigger, which up til now hasn’t been awesome…but WOW, I’m thankful for it today. If you are wondering why I had the ISO cranked up to 400 instead of trying for the least noise possible…I really wanted the lightning to stand out if captured by the trigger.
I don’t know if you can call this a supercell or not…but there was weak rotation on the storm and…well…just look at it. This is the closest thing to a supercell I’ve ever shot in Arizona!
In the hunt for more structure like this, I ended up going west on I-8 instead of north on I-10…which caused me to miss a fairly large haboob that rolled into Phoenix…but no worries, everyone in town had it covered!
I have 1-2 more shots from this storm, including a VERY close strike and the timelapse…stay tuned.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm 2.8, iso 5000, f/2.8, 30 sec // buy print)
An epic trip happened this past weekend…a meeting of four photographers who are great friends of mine, all coming here to Arizona, to help me take pictures of a wedding and then shoot the crap out of this state. We created a hashtag for the weekend…#YoloZona.
On Monday morning, after maybe 5 hours of sleep, we all woke up at 3am to shoot some stars out at Courthouse Butte in Sedona. Thanks to some great advice from our buddy in Kansas, Scotty Ackerman, we knew when the Milky Way would rise and roughly where it would be.
I don’t photograph stars very much and when I have, I’ve never seen anything this good. You’d think only 5 minutes south of a town like Sedona that the sky would be saturated from city lights, but thankfully Sedona is super dark at night because of lighting ordinances. Looking up with the naked eye you could clearly see the Milky Way stretching across the sky.
I edited this in Lightroom first for color and shadows, and then used a bit of luminosity masking techniques to make the sky pop a bit more. I’m super stoked with how this image turned out, my only slight regret is that it’s a 30 second exposure which is a tad too long. The stars are streaking just a bit on the edges of the frame. I was at ISO 5000 on the 5D3, which really didn’t give me much noise, so I might have gone higher and done a shorter, 20 second exposure.
Regardless…I love it anyways, and I’m thinking about getting this printed on metal. The stars are amazing and having lived in Phoenix my whole life…I rarely, if ever, see something like this. What an amazing night.
(click to view larger on a black border…just looks better)
A break from all the lightning and storms…time for Movie Title Wednesday!
One of those movies that I just have to watch if I see it on the TV on a Saturday afternoon is Red Dawn. Granted, I haven’t seen it on the TV much recently and probably have watched it through only a handful of times (the last time being a very long time ago), but it’s still such a fun movie. World War II, Russians attack, Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson…hiding out in the woods, a resistance, fighting back…awesome stuff.
It should be pretty obvious how this film’s title relates to today’s image…but I have to say, it’s really a total lie.
I shot this at sunset. But come on, that movie is perfect for this picture! I’m not going to apologize for it!
Back in early July, our little family spent some time in Sedona, enjoying time away from the heat. Great stormy weather, beautiful skies and of course, the gorgeous mountains surrounding Sedona. If you’ve never been here, you gotta go.
This was down an old dirt road right as the sun was about to drop away. I was struck by the colors and the shadows on the cliff faces, but also with this towering pine tree, seemingly rising above the rest of the forest.
While my HDR processing with landscapes is becoming rarer and rarer, this is indeed a six-bracket tonemapped image. The beauty of this night was the absolute calm weather, which left this tree unmoving for me while I fired off the brackets.
(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100)