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Sunset on the Nevada desert

Sunset south of Boulder City, Nevada

(Click to see this image with a darker border…brings out the colors a bit better)

Back in March I posted a sunset shot from the Nevada desert that had powerlines and I dubbed “Se7en” for Movie Title Wednesday. There were a few other shots I got that night and I just haven’t posted any of them until now.

It had been awhile since I’d seen a painted sky like this. Honestly, this wide open desert landscape was great, but I was scrambling to find something more interesting nearby to include in the frame. I realized, however, that this sunset wouldn’t last forever and sometimes all you need is a great sky.

This was one of the last images from a great afternoon just driving around this area south of Boulder City. In fact, I include the date the photo was taken in my tags, so you can see all the images taken on March 16th. I keep looking back on this day and what I love the most is that I have images to help me always remember how much fun I had just exploring some area that I’d never been before.

I was looking up ghost towns in Nevada, saw a little place called Nelson and headed off with no real plan or idea of what I wanted to shoot. That’s all I need really. Clouds, weather and driving around. It’s when I feel the most free and away from everything. Just me, my camera, the road, my iPod and the unknown.

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

 

 

The Two Towers

Two Towers Downtown Phoenix Chase Freeport McMoran

Without realizing what I’ve been doing, this has become the second Lord of the Rings movie to be featured on Movie Title Wednesday in the last few weeks. I guess I’m sub-consciously excited for the June 28th release of the entire extended edition version of the trilogy on Blu-Ray for the first time. It’s been pre-ordered for months and soon I’ll be camped out on the sofa for about 12 straight hours.

I’m going to have a heck of time finding an image to represent Return of the King. I dunno if I can do it.

This week we’re going with The Two Towers for obvious reasons. The movie is of course awesome. There are two parts in the film that I could watch over and over and over and…well…over. The charge of the Ents onto Isengard. Wow.

“The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. The last march of the Ents.” – Treebeard

I get chills just thinking about that scene. The other is the appearance of Gandalf and the Riders of Rohan towards the end. So much love for this film. But I could babble all day.

So the image above. On the left is the Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix that I’ve shot a lot since moving down here, and the other is the Freeport McMoran. I ventured downtown on May 18th after a good rainstorm came through, which granted me another chance at some stormy reflection shots and dark skies for architecture shooting. I got stuck in a few spots when it suddenly started raining and I had to hide myself and my camera under a parking garage or two.

But wow do I love being down there shooting during dark weather as the sun is going down. It’s inspiring.

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/5.0, iso 100)

 

Seraphim Falls

(image can be viewed larger with a sweet black border if you click on it. you know you want to…)

Coming up with a title for this image for Movie Title Wednesday was kind of difficult. Most of the movies that came to mind I either didn’t remember much about, or really didn’t think fit too well. My wife liked Legends of the Fall, but I think I’ll save that for when the leaves change down the road. There was The Grand, or The Majestic…or even one that seems to fit perfectly…A River Runs Through It. But again, I don’t remember much about it other than Brad Pitt was in it and that I was a senior in high school! Ack! There was also The River Wild with Meryl Streep…but I didn’t like that either.

In the endSeraphim Falls was the title. I highly doubt most of you have seen it, but it’s definitely worth renting. Pierce Brosnan is hiding in the Rocky Mountains just after the Civil War has ended and Liam Neeson is a Confederate Colonel who wants the man killed to avenge a wrong. It all goes back to something that happened at Seraphim Falls…which you eventually discover.

I loved the title of the movie when I first heard it. I wanted to make it fit here but wasn’t quite sure EXACTLY what Seraphim meant, so I looked it up and was pumped when it has a rough translation of “burning ones.” Sure, it’s kind of a stretch, but when you think of a sunset and the fiery red skies you tend to get…it works.

Last weekend I got up at 3am to meet three other photogs to go up north and shoot all day. Despite all the fun I had and the pictures I took…this one shot above of Grand Falls was my entire reason for going. I’m not saying this about the photograph itself, but more about the scene.  Ever since I visited for the first time last year and had boring blue skies, I’ve been dreaming of getting back there and capturing a gorgeous sunset. It was like the entire day boiled down to this span of five minutes when the sky changed color.

The fact that we even got color was amazing. The sun was stuck behind some very thick clouds and as it got darker and darker…I thought that was it. Nothing was coming through that. And then suddenly in the northeast the clouds turned red. My heart jumped. I started waving at the other guys to point it out. People started moving around excitedly. Slowly the color moved westward until…for what was probably less than a minute…the sky looked as it did in the photo above.

Then it was gone.

I loved the day, loved the time spent with friends and especially loved that my wife and daughter were up there to share this with me.  Last year’s trip was exciting, but this one will be the one I remember always.

(of course, until I go back next year…have some fun ideas for 2012)

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/10, iso 200)

 

Dark City

(click on the image above to see it fit to your desktop resolution…and view it in a nicely framed lightbox)

I’m a huge science fiction movie fan. Not really so much the silly stuff that’s out there, but more of the solid, make-you-think kind of films, like Primer, Children of Men or Moon. When I completed this image and decided to use it for Movie Title Wednesday, I actually was thinking Inception at first, but without realizing it, I had been saying the true title to myself over and over while staring at it.

Dark City.

First off, I need to be honest. I saw the movie a long time ago and most of what I remember is that Keifer Sutherland was in it…it was dark and the ending was awesome. Oh, and I liked it. But I forgot everything else. I had to look up the plot again on IMDB just to remind myself. I even failed to remember that Jennifer Connelly was in it…and that’s hard to do.

If you haven’t seen it and love great sci-fi, go rent it asap. Almost everyone I know who has seen it thought it was brilliant. It’s kind of a cult classic in the way that not everyone knows about it but at the same time has a huge following. Like Firefly.

Also, if you haven’t seen Primer, Children of Men or Moon…well, rent them too.

This photo comes from two nights ago after it rained for half the day. I was hoping it would start clearing up before the sun went down and I got lucky. What I love about weather…is that even if I’m in the most urban of environments, I can still include it in my images. The leftover puddles…the clouds. I basically left home with the idea to find reflections in puddles wherever I could and I can’t wait to post the other shots I got from this night.

One last thing about this image. It’s HDR. It’s kind of dark. There are details you can’t see because of the shadows. And I love it. Don’t be afraid to process your high dynamic range images with details lost  in shadows. I know it seems counter-intuitive to capture the entire light range of a scene and then not show it all…but I urge you to give it a shot.

Also, I shot this with my 50mm 1.4. I *heart* that lens.

Fever Pitch

(image looks a lot yummier in lightbox, click to view)

I’d toss this up there with one of the most unique skies you’d ever see in Arizona. A gorgeous sunset, wispy, high cirrus…and then some dark, menacing storm clouds hanging low over the city, a tiny bit of sprinkling rain hitting our heads.

This is another installment of Movie Title Wednesday, one that had quite a few options to choose from. But believe it or not, Field of Dreams and The Sandlot have already been used since I started this thing back in September! There are a ton of great baseball movies, but the one I choose is a flick I really enjoyed.

Fever Pitch stars Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. Barrymore…I’ve loved her since E.T. I always liked Fallon from his days on SNL, but this movie kind of raised him up a bit more for me. And now he hosts his own late show and it’s friggin’ hilarious.

The film itself was just a fun one. Yeah, it’s kind of your standard romantic comedy, but it has something unique about it that not everyone probably knows.  The plot revolves around the Boston Red Sox of course and Fallon’s character’s infatuation with them. When they started filming the movie, they had no idea the Red Sox would win the World Series that year. In fact, the original end of the movie was written with them losing yet again.

But they won. They broke the curse. So the plot changed too…hurriedly re-written after Boston won Game 7. And it made for an awesome ending. When Fallon and Barrymore are seen celebrating on the field at the end of the movie, they were actually at Game 4 when Boston beat St. Louis and supposedly you could see some of the filming live on the Fox broadcast. When I watch the movie, it almost has a kind of historic feel to it now because it revolved around this real-world event.

I’d definitely put it up there with The Sandlot and Field of Dreams as my favorite baseball movies, although I did love The Rookie too.

About the picture above. I think photographers can honestly say that luck can be a huge factor when composing certain scenes. I mean, here I am running around the rooftop of this parking garage firing away at everything because the sky was simply amazing…and after being there 25 minutes, I stumble across the spot above and have roughly 30 seconds to setup and snap the brackets before the sun disappeared from its absolutely perfect position.

Which is what I dig. When out stormchasing or racing to find a great spot for a sunset, sometimes a little luck comes in handy.

For the out-of-state-ers, this is Chase Field, home of the Diamondbacks looking east along Jefferson Street in downtown Phoenix. This was shot about 10 minutes or so before the other one I’ve posted from this parking garage called Seventh Heaven.

(canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso 100)

Seventh Heaven

Downtown Phoenix Urban Storm Sunset

(new: click to view in a lightbox)

This picture is really dedicated to my wife, whom without I doubt we’d have even been in this spot. We had a nice storm system move through this past weekend and I got up real early on Sunday and spent a few hours driving out in the mountains to get some photos.

Because I’d already been out, I just didn’t think about going out again because I had a lot of stuff to get done. Yet my wife comes home in the late afternoon and says “I can’t believe you aren’t out there with these clouds.

And she was right. I couldn’t believe it either. So around 5pm we packed up Lyla and hit downtown Phoenix.

I’ve been wanting inside this parking garage for a long time now and this was a perfect occasion. The guy at the gate said it would cost me $12 despite no event and not a single soul parked in the garage. I asked what I could do if I just wanted to shoot some photos for an hour. He decided to let me park for free near their office in the garage itself which was awesome.

We took the elevator up to the highest floor…number seven, and as my wife told her mom later that night…I was like a kid in a candy store.

The clouds were just amazing. Stormy, huge, fluffy…floating just above our heads. The entire city was basked in this amazing light when the sun went down. I have to rank it up there with the top three sunsets I’ve witnessed here.

I was a snapping, bracketing fool and we were actually on our way out (because there is only so much you can take seeing your two girls bundled up, looking cold, Lyla with those little eyes saying it’s probably time to go daddy) when I saw this scene. The roof of Chase Field where the Diamondbacks play can be seen on the left, which is kind of amazing because it’s such a huge stadium…the roof still towers above us despite being seven levels up.

The puddle obviously makes the shot, but I also just love this cement landscape that stretches out towards the horizon.

I had a heck of a time processing this one last night, starting over several times and spending at least 2-3 hours on it. I’m kind of a perfectionist now and when I think of something being blown up to 20×30, I realize all the tiny details matter.

Can’t wait to get to a few more sets from this parking garage. I have some nice shots of Chase Field itself so I hope those turn out awesome.

Wow I rambled today! Hope your week is going well!

(exif: canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/16, iso100)

The Birds

Sometimes when you look at a photograph quickly, you may not notice the subtle nuances about it. My buddy Mark Garbowski recently posted a shot called The Bowl on the Cobblestone Street…because the shot was so wide, so expansive, you might have missed a curious little bowl sitting in the middle of the road, which for me, kind of made the image unique.

Well, today is Movie Title Wednesday and I dubbed this photo The Birds, just in case you missed them on first glance. I left the image clickable to a larger size so you can see them better.

Alfred Hitchcock was a genius when it came to thrillers and scary movies, and The Birds was no exception. Terrifying, creepy…it’s probably up there with Jaws in how a couple of films caused an entire generation of people to freak out whenever they see a large gathering of ravens or a fin in the ocean (although, a fin in the ocean is good cause to freak out).

I saw that movie as a kid and the scene that always stands out is the end when all the birds are just sitting and watching them leave the house. It’s awesomely eerie.

So this is yet another image from the dog track, taken about 20 minutes or so before the amazing sunset we ended up with once we walked back inside. We had already explored the interiors of the place, then circled around outside. The overhang is what used to be the entrance to the place.

These freaking birds kept flying around randomly, and they looked so awesome against the clouds that I just waited until they appeared again to fire off some shots.

As I continue to go through these dog track shots, I can’t tell you how much fun I had being there that day with Rick and Scott. But what’s cool is that I get to keep processing images weeks after it happened…and so it’s kind of like getting to go back over and over.

The sunset Tacoma

I used to have a gorgeous, red, tripped out Toyota Tacoma. I loved it. My dream truck, I planned on owning it forever. Then we got pregnant and the payment was a bit too much to handle. I loved the truck, but other things were just more important. So I downgraded to a paid-off 1999 Toyota Solara…great little sports car, but I’ll always remember that truck. Sometimes with tears in my eyes. Okay, not really, but I did love that thing.

My buddy Scott Wood recently purchased a brand new Tacoma himself and it’s a slick, sexy machine. He drove myself and Rick Young out to the dog track over Christmas where I’ve been posting a lot of pictures from in the last week. As we headed back to the truck after three hours of shooting and an amazing sunset, the Tacoma looked pretty awesome framed against the fading sky so I just had to get some brackets of it.

I had a lot of fun processing this one…and I have to say, OnOne Phototools and FocalPoint are a dream to work with. They allow me so much freedom in taken a fairly flat tonemapped image, with little to no noise, and then turn my vision into reality. I’ve never had so much fun working with any photo, be it HDR or not.

Scott, hope I did your truck justice.

Fresh snow on the Four Peaks

Just under a year ago I captured a beautiful, slightly snowy sunset on this mountain range known as the Four Peaks.These mountains are at the 7,000 foot level, so they tend to get a dusting of snow once or twice a year. You just never know when it’s going to happen or how many times. In fact, after the previous one last January, there hasn’t been snow up there until today. Once it melts, it could be another year before it happens again (although I think we’ll see more in the coming weeks).

All that to say…when there is snow up on the peaks, you have to go. I dragged my wife and daughter out of the house around noon today and this shot was taken close to 5pm. Needless to say, no nap for Lyla, a long day for my wife reading magazines, books and watching the snow fall as we drove around. I love them both for putting up with me. It’s so very rare to see snow fall around the Phoenix area and this storm system moving through will be the coldest since 2007. After a morning movie, I could see some storms popping up north of town and it looked like the Beeline Highway would see the most action, plus Four Peaks is in that direction. I wanted to just take a drive and see what we saw…and that resulted in some beautiful clouds, at least five separate snow showers and a boatload of photographs.

The clouds capping the peaks in this image were the last set of snow showers to roll through before it was done for the day. I was running frantically through desert brush, hurdling prickly pears, getting stuck by needles…all to find the perfect composition. The goal of course was to contrast the snowy peaks with the desert floor below and these two Saguaro sentinels proved worth enough to be included in the framing.

I’m pretty sure I saw my Twitter buddy Ted Wendel out there…check out his shot taken probably within minutes of mine.

On Top of the World

(Rebel XSi, Tamron 17-35 2.8, 17mm, ISO 100, F8, five exposure HDR)

I’ve been to Las Vegas a lot over the last four years, mainly for my day job. We have a couple of clients there and on occasion they involve extended stays. While I don’t always pay attention to all the newest buildings and attractions, it had been so long since my last visit that there was a ton of cool stuff to see.

This parking garage is an 8-story behemoth that apparently serves an amazing set of structures called The World Market. The reason I even ventured up here was the view it had of the interchange between the 15 and the 515. As always happens though, the shot I wasn’t planning on became my favorite from the excursion.

The journey up here was a bit freaky. The garage was empty save a few cars at the bottom. The hallway to the elevators was barely lit on the first floor. I took them up to the 8th and ended up in a hallway with zero lights. But the sun was still shining a bit, so it wasn’t bad. But when I was done shooting and returned to the elevators…well, it was PITCH black. I had to pull out the ol’ cell phone in order to light up the room enough to push the elevator button.

It was a bit too quiet and a little creepy. It was like an old, abandoned building except for the fact that it was brand new.

I loved the parking garage though. It was newer, so everything had this clean, crisp feel to it. Really dug how the World Market building itself complimented the “parkade” and  stood out like a monolith against the evening sky.

Ah, but if it wasn’t for that arrow, I probably wouldn’t have liked it half as much.

On a side note, you might guess how sad I was that there were no clouds around to include in this image 🙂