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Wishing you were a wall cloud

Most of you know I went on a stormchasing trip to Nebraska earlier this year. The reason I went was to see stuff like in the picture above. Of course, when you see stuff like that in Oklahoma, Kansas, etc., you run and hide because that’s looking like a fairly monster-sized funnel dropping to the ground.

Ah, but in Phoenix…it’s rarely that. This storm had no rotation, it was just a severe thunderstorm that had the look of something much more evil. I loved it…and was kind of glad it wasn’t a funnel, because it was coming right at me and I didn’t want to move. A glorious storm, right after this it kicked up dust under the funnel area of the cloud and suddenly a wall of dust came flying at me within a few minutes.

I ran to the car before the big dust got there, went home…watched the sky over us get darker…watched my daughter play in her first rain storm, and then we all watched from the doorway as a massive microburst engulfed our neighborhood in wind, rain and spotty hail stones. We received 1.3 inches of rain at my house in about 60 minutes. That’s an insane amount of water.

A fun storm, probably will end up being the pinnacle of the monsoon season at my house and one of the best in a few years.

Wandering with the Arizona monsoon

One of my goals for this summer was to chase the monsoon around Arizona and essentially create a journal of my travels in a photobook. I have no idea if that will pan out once the monsoon season is over, what it might look like, if it’s silly, whatever.  But part of the plan is to take a few day trips each month out into the Arizona wilderness and follow the storms around as they develop and move towards Phoenix. Wander around if you will, see what I see. Frame the monsoons with the gorgeous Arizona deserts and high country, then finish off the day with some lightning photography.

Well yesterday provided some great vistas for me, but the lightning part never materialized. Two days in a row of storms rolling into town and then dying out, with rare lightning strikes.

Still, I came away with some stuff I’m happy with, this is one of them. This was taken a bit northwest of Saguaro Lake which is northeast of Phoenix along the Bush Highway. A thunderstorm is developing out on the horizon and the high clouds really make for a beautiful sky. I did love how the landscape created an almost curved effect, and the cactus being as tall as it was gives an upward angle to the shot.

First monsoon storm of the season

Yes, I am a happy camper tonight. When I left last week for Holland, all I heard was how that weekend was going to be a big one for the monsoons in the Phoenix area and I was going to miss out on the start of all the storm fun. Yeah, I know, I was going to the NETHERLANDS, so how could I be bummed about going and missing a few lightning shows?

Well…turns out nothing hit the Phoenix area really until tonight. And I was here to capture it. Luck spins my way one more time.

The shot above is one of my favorites from the night. The right bolt is glowing blue/green at the bottom because it hit an electrical box. You know when this happens because usually the lightning strike disappears but you see a bright explosion of light on the ground basically POP and then go away. The boxes in Phoenix used to be green so the glows could be an awesome green back in the day. I dunno if we still have those or not, maybe in the older areas.

A ton of fun out there tonight, I just sat in one place, two guys in a truck pulled up, whipped out chairs and watched along with me and there was much “ooohhing” and “ahhhhing” going on!

Insane thunderstorm over Nuenen

So at the facility we’re working at today, I asked this crazy, funny, Dutch guy around noon, “So what, no rain today? Looks pretty nice out!” He responds, “Oh no, bad storm coming, will be here between 5-6pm.” Alright, we’ll see!

Photo above taken at 5:42pm.

Umm, wow, this was probably the coolest looking storm I’ve ever seen. Well, maybe I’m just excited, but as you can see from the photo, there was some serious nastiness headed right for me. The clouds were churning, I saw a small funnel up high in the clouds (probably just a “cold air funnel”, barely anything, but I saw it!), the lightning was all over and then once the storm hit, there was 70mph winds and debris from trees all over the place.

We went out to dinner later and there were some flattened cornfields, a few uprooted trees and broken branches littering the small town of Nuenen.

This shot is a “shakily” held merge of two 3-bracket HDR images. CS5 worked some magic for me here which I may talk about at a later date, but no time for it now.

Suffice to say…it’s hard to believe I was worried about missing the monsoon in Arizona when stuff like this was waiting for me.

I have some more nasty photos I may post later on…but this one took some time and I had to get it out there.

(More Holland photos here: Holland Trip)

Boiling storm over Nuenen

This is another shot of the storm from behind my hotel a few nights ago. You can see some brightness to the right which was a wall of rain coming that I ended up having to outrun since I stood there shooting until it was almost too late.

This is a black and white, HDR photo from three handheld brackets. It’s got a looooot of grain. I kind of like it that way and it’s mainly why I decided to go with the B&W styling, but once I removed the color, I liked the scene even more. Getting rid of the grain proved too hard to do without losing the integrity and anger in the clouds. It just smoothed them out too much. I may look into other ways to do it later on when I refine it, but I also honestly don’t mine it looking this way.

Loved getting to see a seriously nasty cloud all the way here in Holland!

Storms over the Strawberry Fields

Go figure. I get slightly jealous about Phoenix having an amazing chance of storms last weekend and ME having to go to Holland. Okay, I wasn’t TOO upset, but part of me wished I was there enjoying the first big storms of the year. But it turns out it wasn’t a bad thing to be over here.

They definitely didn’t materialize in Phoenix, but I sure got a dose of them here in Nuenen, Netherlands. First night I was here I was woken up by a thunderstorm, and then today we had two big storms roll through and drop a ton of rain.

This shot was taken about 25 feet from our hotel on the farm next door. That is a giant strawberry field spreading out before you and the puddles came from the rains earlier in the day. Such gorgeous country with the trees and farms around our hotel…simply beautiful.

Also, that’s not my tripod out in the field, it’s some kind of watering sprinkler 🙂

It’s been fairly warm and humid here, but the rains really turned this evening into something amazing. I have a few more storm pictures, this one really turned out well.

(You can see more pictures from Holland by visiting this link: Holland Trip)

Storm Photos: Part 3

I found a few more photos from last week that I didn’t upload, plus a redux of the “Shrouded in Clouds” photo of the Superstitions that I posted on Monday.

That last one…I think would make an awesome print, in either color or black and white.

A shot of the Superstitions while it was raining…the clouds were hanging low around the cliffs and the scene was magnificent.

Another shot of the Superstition cliffs.

This was an amazing sight…mammatus clouds leading out from a thunderstorm dropping rain. You can see the rain on the horizon on the right, while these bubbly clouds rise from it.

This might be one of my most favorite photos. I posted it already here in color, but this is a black and white, cropped and has a border around it.

The above picture makes me think of a quote from A Few Good Men: “YOU WANT THIS ON THAT WALL! YOU  NEED THIS ON THAT WALL!”

*grin*

As always, these are for sale as prints, email me if interested.

Storm Photos: Part 2

On Saturday I had planned to photograph some of the snow on the Four Peaks. I knew all week that it was likely going to snow up there and I’ve been dying to shoot this once-a-year event.

The downside was that the weather had been so bad, the Beeline Highway was closed at Bush Highway and I couldn’t get as close as I wanted, plus the stormy clouds pretty much covered the top of the peaks.

However…it was a stunning day out, the clouds were puffy, stormy and gorgeous. The views were super-clear and the visibility was endless.  We drove out along the Beeline and then came home the back roads via Bush Highway, and these below are the results.

Looking down the on-ramp to the Beeline.

A closed road that goes to Saguaro Lake.

Here is a shot of the Beeline to the left, but you can also see the snow on the hills way along the back horizon. That was about as much as I could get.

Another shot of the snow on the distant hills…although it’s kind of hard to see here with the clouds meeting the white.

The cliffs around the Saguaro Lake area.

Saguaro Lake on the left, the Bush Highway on the right…it was such a clear day.

Storm Photos: Part 1

What a week of weather. I don’t know if anyone else can understand how an event like we had can be as exciting as it was to me. The low pressure system that brought all the rain, wind, tornadoes and snow, was record-breaking.

The aftermath of that storm demanded that I document it. Granted, I didn’t get to see everything I wanted, but that’s usually the case when it comes to my excursions. I head out with one idea in mind, but end up somewhere else entirely.

I took Friday off from work just to drive around. The photos below were all taken on Friday, the very LAST photo being my absolute favorite shot of the day.

Also, you’ll notice these have a new watermark on them, something I’m going to start using now to protect them from being stolen illegally. I usually don’t mind them being downloaded as wallpaper for your computer, but I would like to sell some prints and if I make them readily available without the watermark, then I wont sell anything.

Hope you enjoy these! They are all HDR.

The above is the Superstition Mountains on Friday morning. The clouds were hugging the tops of the cliffs and made for some spectacular views.

Tempe Town Lake lowered it’s inflatable dam to let the Salt River flow once more.

A shot of the Salt River flowing under the Country Club Avenue bridge.

This is a wash on the Indian reservation south of my house.

The Salt River again from Country Club Avenue.

A thunderstorm south of my house.

And my favorite…I called it “Shrouded in Clouds.” This was the sight of the day…if nothing else had turned out, this would have been just fine. I will be using this road again this summer during monsoon season.

If you are interested in a print, just drop me an email!

Storm damage photos

I didn’t get as many shots of storm damage as I would have liked, but here are the ones I DID get of some flooding, flowing washes and a downed tree.