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Tower of Dust

This was definitely one of the craziest sights I’ve witnessed stormchasing in Arizona. This was shot on May 9th, 2012, along Queen Creek road just east of Interstate 10.  The wall of dust had hit me and was moving by for about 10 minutes when I looked out the window and saw this bit of clearing and an insane view straight up to some epic clouds.

It didn’t last too long, another wave of thick dust was a few minutes away, but for a second the sky appeared to show a giant dust tower reaching for clouds. Without the color, it almost looked like a bomb or something, with a giant mushroom cloud at the top.

If you missed the timelapse from yesterday, check it out here.

Please click on the photo to view full size/and so it fits your screen!

The Middle

The Middle - Road Superstitions

(please click to view on black and fit your screen // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, iso 400, f/18, 3.2sec // buy print)

Yes, I’ve shot this road so many times. But the last time I was here I realized I missed something important. The road itself. I didn’t have my camera low enough. I didn’t make the road more a part of the composition like I should have. At least, that’s how I saw it.

Besides, I’m always, always looking for the ultimate shot here. This spot is meaningful to me. And someday the cloud and sky and sunset will all align to give me some kind of epic image that I’ve been chasing forever.

I took this one back in February on a stormy evening (my favorite kind) with a bit of color showing up at sunset. The very top of the mountain off in the distance has a slight purple tinge to the top where you can see the last bit of sunlight hitting it.

Still one of my favorite spots in all of Arizona.

Hillside

(please click to view on black and fit your screen // canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/7.1, iso 200, 8 sec // buy print)

We had some winter storms blown through the state last night, and there was even lightning strikes south of Phoenix in Casa Grande. Needless to say, it got me impatient for the monsoon season to arrive this summer. So I dug up this shot from last July. For those that have a copy of my stormchasing book, you’ve likely already seen it!

It was one of my first experiences shooting lightning down in Tucson and especially the Catalina Mountains. The strikes are just so intense there.

I love this shot. Depending on your monitor and how it’s calibrated…you’ll either see the lower right cactus really well, or not that well. I loved all the layers I got, starting with the Saguaro, then going to the mountain, the strikes, the lower clouds and the flowing ones at the top.

I said it above, but sometimes that text it’s hard to see. These portrait compositions on my blog are HUGE, so click on the image to have it fit your monitor!

The cotton fields

The cotton fields - monsoons arizona

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 1/125 // buy print)

If you ordered a copy of my Stormchasing Arizona book, or happened to see my Best of 2011, you may have seen this image already.

But it was one of my top five probably from last year’s monsoon season, so I felt like it was owed it’s own blog post. Right?

Am I the only one that believes his images have feelings and would feel shunned if they didn’t get their own blog time? I mean, yes, this one made it into the book, but they all know the blog is the shiznit. The place you want to be. Where the magic happens.

So ANYWAYS, this is from north of Tucson overlooking a huge cotton field. Awesome storm on the horizon dropping rain. Nothing I like more than a wide vista or landscape with a distant rain storm.

There was also a timelapse to go with this.

I humbly apologize to this image for taking so long to give it the honor it so richly deserved. You weren’t forgotten. Just lost in the shuffle. I wont let it happen again.

Stormchasing Arizona 2011 is ready for Pre-Order!

Stormchasing Arizona

I’ve been a writer of sorts for a long time now. Started with a three-year or so stint doing sports writing, then some entertainment jabbering, a lot of personal bits and of course, stories to go along with the work I’m doing in photography. But during all that time, if I ever thought about publishing a book, it was always with the idea of writing some kind of science fiction novel or something like that. In fact, I actually wrote a few chapters.

Yet here I am on volume two of Stormchasing Arizona and that sci-fi story sits waiting for me to re-visit it someday.

The book was finished last Friday, November 4th and now is available for Pre-Order! I’m so totally stoked about this year’s edition, which is filled with over 100 images and 25 more pages than last year’s.

You can see a preview of the book, more details on what’s inside and the way to pre-order by clicking right here or the My Book link at the top of this page!

Thanks so much to everyone involved with making this a possibility!

Good morning, Kansas

(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/8.0, iso 100, 1/400 // buy print)

Please click on this one to view in the lightbox, I think it looks a lot more accurate.

This photo represents such a beautiful moment for me, it’s an image I’ve held back for awhile, for whatever reason. I took it on the open roads of Kansas the second day of my stormchasing trip to the Midwest this past May.

I had landed in Denver the day before around noon, drove to Nebraska’s northwestern corner…then into South Dakota…then hovered around those two states until maybe 11pm. I knew at some point I had to head south because storms would be popping in southern Kansas the next afternoon and it was about a nine hour drive.

So I was up until around 4 in the morning driving into Kansas. I slept in the back of the car until the alarm went off at 6am. And so I kept driving. It was still a bit dark out, but the light was coming up.

And for some reason…it was hazy almost my entire trip out there.

I’m driving down this road headed for the interstate when I see the sun start rising off to my left. I’m tired. I hadn’t talked to another person in quite awhile. There was this overwhelming sense of freedom deep inside me. I had no rules to follow, no one telling me where to go. I just woke up and started driving.

And then I see the sun outlined against this hazy, Kansas sky. I know we all touch up our photos for color, etc., but all I did here was a tighter crop and some contrast in Lightroom. The sky just looked like it was painted on by an artist. And the silhouette of the wind mill is just what Kansas is about to me.

You’ll notice some faint lines stretching across the image. To the right of the image was a very tall antenna of sorts, with these cables keeping it tied firmly to the ground. I dunno…I didn’t mind them much.

I can’t explain too well the feeling I had while taking this picture…but I know it will stick with me for a long, long time.

A thundering sunset in Buckeye

Strikes at Sunset

(click image to view on black and so it also fits your monitor // canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/10, iso 400, 13 sec // buy print)

Two nights in a row an isolated thunderstorm just appeared over Buckeye…which is west of Phoenix. It’s just kind of a rare thing to see that happen, so the second night I didn’t let it go to waste.

I flew out there and arrived east of Buckeye to shoot this giant storm that kept dropping lightning everywhere. Normally I would get closer, but my goal was to capture not just the lightning, but hopefully the cloud above it. Especially because there was still some fading light from the sun to add to the composition. I decided not to crop this one because I liked the transition of color upwards and the way the lightning comes out of the base of the storm at the very bottom.

Considering this was on the shorter side…only 13 seconds, getting that many strikes was awesome. And there is also something cool about powerplants, powerlines…something electrical being framed with a lightning storm.

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)

Over the Top

Over the Top - Arizona Monsoon Lightning

(click to see on black and for the image to fit your screen)

I knew when I saw this in Lightroom after dumping my card from that night’s excursion, this would end up being a Movie Title Wednesday.

The sole reason I know the song “Meet me Halfway“…is because of Over the Top. I haven’t seen the movie in awhile, but I can still picture Sylvester Stallone using that pulley in his truck to work out while driving across the country with that song playing in the background. I have no idea if critics thought the movie was good or not, but for some reason it left an impact on me. Not sure if it was the father struggling to connect with his son, the arm wrestling, the clips of guys drinking motor oil or eating lighted cigarettes…or whatever…but I remember loving it and even as a kid, getting a little teary-eyed at the end.

I captured this lightning on the evening of August 2nd, a sort of surprise night where I wasn’t even expecting to go out. It was the second night in a row that an isolated storm cell built up just over Buckeye, west of Phoenix. It was strange…because storms usually start in the high country to the NE, or in the SE deserts, and move towards us. Two straight nights a giant cell just pops up over Buckeye for no apparent reason.

I skipped it the first night, but not the second. I could see it exploding from the backyard, so I bolted west and setup with the 85mm to capture some pretty awesome lightning strikes. In fact, that night turned out to be pretty good and I think I ended up with over 20 decent lightning strikes.

This particular one has a little shoot “over the top” of the cloud, hence getting it’s movie name today.

(canon 5d mark ii, canon 85mm 1.8, f/10, iso 250, 30 sec)

A gnarled old hand

(click the image to see it fit your screen, or even larger, with a nice, dark background)

I took this shot on one of the very first stormchasing days of the year, which didn’t amount to much. There was some puffy clouds, maybe some spotty rain, but it was really just the slow start to the monsoon season.

This was the day I discovered this tree for the first time. I had my daughter with me and we just pulled off into the desert off Riggs and I-10, and ended up driving out a bit to find this little guy struggling for life in the dry, arid landscape. I’ve posted at least 1-2 pictures of this tree already, but I can’t help it. I love the way it looks. That curving branch that looks like some kind of hand with wicked long fingers just waiting to grasp some unsuspecting passerby. The bit of life left that results in a some greenery not easily seen at first.

Despite there not being much weather, the clouds and sun rays were still amazing, so I tried to frame this tree against the sky so the rays looked like they were almost emanating from the fingers themselves.

I hope this tree stands for years…I’d hate to drive by it someday and see it gone.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/14, 1/125)