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First look at Juliana and Daniel’s wedding at Tlaquepaque

What a beautiful little wedding between two amazing people. They were married this past Sunday in the little chapel at Tlaquepaque in Sedona.

Here’s some of my favorites from the day.

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The Milky Way over Sedona | YoloZona

Milky Way over Sedona
(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.

 

 

The Swagger Wagon | YoloZona

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This past weekend four amazing photographer buddies of mine flew into town. Three of them helped me shoot a wedding on Saturday and then all five of us left at 5:30am Sunday to head north. We hit Page, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Sedona and back home Monday at noon.

Almost 700 miles. And barely any sleep. We woke up at 3am on Monday just to shoot the Milky Way over Sedona. And then sunrise. And then we took this photo basically closing out the trip.

A Toyota Sienna. A mini-van. Five dudes IN a mini-van. How embarrassing right? Maybe so…but this vehicle was amazing. So much room for all of us AND camera gear.It was fast, smooth and made the trip crazy easy.

Thanks to Chris for renting the thing.

And…YoloZona…what’s that? Well, we are photographers of course and therefore we Instagram (except Heath, but he’s Canadian, so who knows), so we had to come up with a #Hashtag for the trip. #YoloZona stuck.

This trip was pure amazing for me and something I’ve been craving for awhile now. I have so many photos to share over the next weeks and months, I can’t wait!

Josh + Jessica | Wedding | Tlaquepaque

Back in June I had an opportunity to help shoot a wedding with my good friend Jeff Ambrose. We actually worked a lot together this past spring. He helped me shoot a bunch of weddings, so it was such a blast to be able to return the favor.  And especially at a venue like Tlaquepaque.

The day was perfect, breezy, the trees were utterly beautiful and the day went as smooth as you could have wanted. Here are some of my favorite shots from Josh and Jessica’s amazing wedding.

A heads up that the last picture might frighten you.

This was the moment when the bride threw the bouquet over her head and it landed at my feet and for a moment I thought I might die.

Those dark skies

Amidst the Rocks - Monsoon Sedona Arizona

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100, 1/15th // buy print)

I was hoping to post a timelapse tutorial today, but I’m on the road and have to get up very, very early Tuesday morning, so I didn’t have time to get all the information together like I wanted.

So instead, you get another stormchasing image! I highly suggest you click on the image today, it seems the WordPress-resized version makes the tree really, really dark, whereas the full-sized shows you a bit more detail.

This was shot back on July 11th west of Sedona. I made the wife and daughter go on a drive with me through Red Rock State Park during some monsoon thunderstorms to see what we might see. I loved all these trees out there, and I don’t know their name or type, but they have some evergreen properties despite being short and stubby.

Of course, you wont know the color of the wood or the leaves because I stole that from you with the monochrome conversion. That’s how I roll these days!

I loved this scene. An awesome tree, some cool rocky terrain, gorgeous, textured clouds and that fantastic monsoon downpour off on the left horizon. What more could this guy ask for?

Lightning. Yes. Wish there was a lightning strike in there somewhere. But ah well…can’t have everything.

Just a road…with a storm

(click to see on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/22, 1/50 // buy print)

There is nothing I love more than a nice road photograph. I really can never tire of them. The problem with stormchasing is that all you are doing is driving down roads most of the time, so you are tempted to do nothing but stand in the middle of every awesome highway you see. Hence I try to find random things down dirt roads, like rocks, cactus, whatever…to try and frame a shot.

But I still shoot roads and this is one from up in Sedona, on the northwest side, from back on July 11th. A large monsoon thunderstorm was moving slowly from left to right over these mountains, dropping heavy rain as it passed by.

Feeling a bit tired and worn out today. Stormchasing is such a passion. It drives me. It’s very hard for me to just take a night off from it when I know good stuff is happening. Part of that is wanting to build a reputation for always being out there, being reliable, being a source for information and the latest photos of our weather. But the other part is just desire to shoot it, to be out in it and to enjoy it.

And there is also the idea that this lasts only about four months during the summer and then it’s over until next year. But I still have to learn how to take a night off when I need one. And to be able to do it and NOT think about what I’m missing the entire time.

Last night was a nice break…hung out with two buddies from high school whom I’ve been friends with and stayed in contact with ever since.  I still looked at the radar on my phone though *grin*

The other thing on my mind today is a kind of hangover from the past five days. Stormchasing Friday afternoon, Saturday, Sunday’s dust storm, a quick Monday night jaunt up the 17, then more Tuesday night. When things die down as they always do (as in right now)…I’m always kind of left with this emptiness…like, what now?

It will pass quickly though, because I’m looking forward to a little relaxation and fall TV premieres! Vampire Diaries tonight!

Thanks for letting me ramble a bit this morning.

The Dark Knight

Lightning West of Sedona Arizona

(please click to view on black and so it fits your screen)

The holiday on Monday totally threw me off, so you’re getting the lesser known Movie Title Thursday this week!

Boom. The Dark Knight. Probably my favorite superhero movie of all-time. Watching Heath Ledger play the Joker is something I never get tired of seeing. The guy was amazing. Anytime I’ve turned this movie on, I’m automatically sucked in the second I see him on the screen. Coupled with Batman Begins, these have to be two of the best comic book movies ever. One can only hope the third and final entry from Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale leaves us wanting more.

I captured this lightning strike back on July 10th west of Sedona on Highway 89A. I’ve shot a lot of lightning this summer, but this is one of my favs. It’s been the background image on my iPhone ever since I processed it. I don’t know why, but it’s just so beautiful. Dark, menacing clouds at the top…a slow, curved strike and a dark silhouette of a foreground. It’s just perfect to me. And I don’t mean the photograph…I mean nature itself…the strike. The way it looks.

So many times we see a strike with our naked eye, we exclaim “wow!” and then it’s gone. We never see it again. I think that’s why I love this kind of photography. We get to capture something that will never be seen again and you never know what it will look like when it happens.

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/5.6, iso 200, 30 sec – buy print)

Red Dawn

The Guardian - Sedona Arizona Sunset

(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)

Lightning on the 89A

Lightning on the 89A - Sedona, Arizona

(Click to see the image smaller so it fits your screen, or enjoy it on your huge stinking monitor!)

At the start of the year, I had a sort of awakening. I had changed up the way I processed images and discovered the beauty of black and white. It was the work of Mitch Dobrowner that really spoke to me around that time and I vowed to myself that this storm season I’d use a lot less color in my storm photography. Even lightning.

Suddenly it’s the middle of the stormchasing season and I hadn’t done a lick of lightning in B&W. I’ll be honest with you about this. I was kind of scared. I really try hard to be proud and confident of my own vision and processing methods, no matter what people think. But I still hear it and listen when I wish I didn’t.

Some of the lightning I’d posted this summer has gotten nice feedback, but some that jumped out at me were comments like “I love the color” or “My favorite thing about lightning shots is the different colors you get.” Stuff like that.

Believe it or not, it made me do a double-take on a B&W conversion. Plus I tried it a few times and never liked the results.

Fast-forward to this past weekend and a comment I got on 500px from Drew Medlin. He said something along the lines of “you’ve got the lightning, now focus on composition, foreground/background elements…” Yeah, I was a bit bent at first. Sounded a bit too forward to me. So I visited his page.

And realized he knew what he was talking about. His lightning shots were amazing. And they were in black and white. Boom, it brought me screaming back to where I was at the beginning of the year. WHY was I afraid of this? Look at the beauty Drew was showing through his work. It just reassured me that my original vision in January was on target.

I have no problem in this business letting people know where I get the inspiration that changes the way I do things. I think it’s important to acknowledge things like that. The fact is, Drew gave me a kick to the gut and I’m forever grateful for that. Thanks man.

Please check out his website and follow him on 500px.

I ended up dabbling a bit in different processing methods until I got happy with what I ended up with. And I just dig it. I love the starkness and power you get from an image in B&W anyways, now throw in some lightning and it moves me.

Hope all that made some sense. This shot was taken back on the 10th of July up in Sedona, a bit west of town along State Route 89A.

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/5.6, iso 100, 30 sec)

Last Gleaming

The Rainy Rock - Sunset Sedona Arizona

The last time I was in Sedona, Arizona, was a drive-by I did on my way back from Williams on a work trip. It was the middle of the day, harsh light and not a cloud in the sky.

Yuck.

Since Saturday afternoon we’ve been enjoying the beautiful red rock country and it’s been refreshing. The temperatures have been downright chilly at times, especially after a good rain. And there has been lots of storms up here.

But this place is just beautiful. My struggle is to capture something that no one else does. I make that my main goal anytime I go anywhere. I didn’t have a ton of time on this trip to take long hikes and explore places that not many people see, so I just tried to look at all the usual stuff in a different light.

I love silhouettes in general and the setting sun provided some gorgeous light against rainy clouds and these peaks surrounding the town. Plus I’m really digging my 85mm 1.8 for these kinds of shots. It makes me really want a 70-200mm where I can really zoom into something and get unique compositions. The cliffs and peaks around Sedona provide some amazingly cool shapes.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/16, iso 100, 1/25)