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Down that dark road

I’m lucky to have a few great friends at work and one of them is Jesse. He’s a car guy, loves to go “wheeling” every Friday night and would go out of his way to help you install a new car stereo, not to mention a bazillion other things. A week or so ago we had to drive up to Williams for work, which is something we love doing despite the 3-3.5 hour drive time. Especially in the summer when it’s 110 in Phoenix, but a cool 75-80 in the gorgeous pine country of northern Arizona. He’s such a good guy and let me pull over a bunch to satisfy my insatiable hunger to photograph cool stuff.

As a photographer, you sometimes get tunnel vision. It happens to me all the time. You get an idea in your head about a shot and you focus all efforts on making it happen. That’s usually when a shot you weren’t even planning on taking becomes the actual reason you went there.

Once we were up close to Williams, we passed a giant lake bed full of flowers. I posted that shot not too long ago. The thing was, I was so infatuated with the flowers and storm clouds, I wasn’t looking anywhere else. As I came back to the car, Jesse calmly points out this dirt road heading into the trees. Me, being the AWESOME photographer that I am, who knows ALL…said “Yeah…okay Jesse…looks cool.” So I walked over there to snap some brackets, almost feeling like I was doing this as a courtesy because at least Jess was trying to help me out a little. Figured I would just get the brackets real quick and we’d be on our way.

Back in the car when I looked at the results in my camera…I realized it was going to be one of my favorite shots from the day and maybe in awhile. I knew right away I’d do it in black and white.  It would end up looking much more mysterious devoid of color.  I was giddy thinking about what the final product was going to look like. This is a 6-bracket HDR using Photomatix, CS5 and Nik Silver Efex for the B&W.

I guess the moral of the story is to always listen to your buddy Jessie.  He may be obsessed with Family Guy and wear his sunglasses at night (inside joke), but when he points out an idea for a photo…you’d damn well better do what he says.

The Caterpillar

I rarely take photos of construction vehicles unless there is something interesting going on in the sky. I’ve seen so many awesome HDR photos of these kinds of subjects, including my buddy Brian’s awesome shot using a fisheye lens, but I just haven’t done too many myself.

I found this Caterpillar Motor Grader was on site at the wastewater plant up in Williams, Arizona when I was there last week on a service call. With the stormy skies behind it, the puddles of rain and the awesome rusty features on the vehicle itself, I had to snap some brackets.

The style on this one is a little bit different than my normal HDR processing. I think when I do natural landscapes, stormchasing, etc., I tend to go for the most natural look possible. But when it comes to an alleyway in Amsterdam or a giant Caterpillar…I like to mess things up a little.

This was processed normally in Photomatix and CS5, but I threw in some desaturation and some Topaz Adjust on the colors. I love the muted look, the over-exposed sky and the overall feel of the shot.

Just something a little different for your Friday.

Flowers and Storms on Deer Park Lake

You may be wondering where the heck the lake is, but I’m kind of standing in it. At least, that’s where it should be. Sometimes there is water and sometimes not. I think the snow melt earlier in the year floods this place, forms the lake, and then once summer hits…you get fields of gold just like this.

We were driving to Williams for my real job and noticed more and more flowers on the way up…and when we passed this wide open area…I knew we’d come back to it on the way home.

What made it even more awesome of course was the thunderstorms going nuts up there. You know me…something as beautiful as a field of flowers only gets better if you throw in some wicked monsoon clouds!

While this spot may look beautiful…I was getting attacked by mosquitoes and who knows WHAT else. But most of the time when you see a shot you just have to have…the environment doesn’t matter. You’d lay in field of cactus to get that PERFECT shot.

Technical crap: 6-brackets using my Tamron 17.35mm 2.8, Photomatix 4 Beta, CS5 and some masking.

An old barn in northern Arizona

Another shot from my trip to Grand Falls last month…this was an old barn in the town of Williams, Arizona, which was where I actually was working earlier in the day before heading to the falls.

Lots of barbed wire around this thing or I may have tried to get closer to it, but I definitely loved the color of wood on the outside, the rusty looking roof and the trees around it. Not to mention there were a few clouds in the sky to add a little fun to the shot.