The Phoenix Haboob
This is just a color version of the haboob hitting Phoenix.
Lightning over Phoenix
A late July monsoon thunderstorm rains releases a massive strike over downtown Phoenix. Bucket list shot for me.
A horizontal lightning strike flies across the horizon in the midst of storm clouds and low lying fog. My favorite lightning shot of 2011.
A strong monsoon storm dumps rain over the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona.
Chaos of Light
A massive strike explodes over the town of Casa Grande on August 25th, 2011.
Snowstorm on the Beeline
The Beeline Highway is a road known by name mainly to Arizonans. It's on the northeast side of town on the way to Payson and is still considered the desert. Which is why this storm dropping snow in December was so unique and so exciting.
This strike illuminates the falling rain in a crazy purple hue, while the city of Phoenix in the background gives another, pale color.
A hundred million fingers
This lightning strike was a bit unusual because of the amazing amount of tendrils or fingers coming off the main bolts.
Lightning extrends out of a downdraft of rain from a thunderstorm located SW of highway 85 between Gila Bend and Ajo, Arizona.
Two strikes hit in the Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson, Arizona.
A winter rain over Phoenix
Seen from outside of town, rain falls over the Phoenix area late Monday evening.
Snow on the Four Peaks
Only once or twice a year do you really get a lot of good snow on the Four Peaks northeast of Phoenix, AZ. This shot was taken just a few minutes after a big storm blew over the mountains and dropped fresh snow.
The Arizona Twister
This is not a tornado, but just a lonesome dust devil that happens to be in front of a nice thunderstorm dropping rain in the distance. Welcome to Arizona.
A gnarled old hand
An old, dead tree stands in the desert during some cloudy monsoon skies.
Vortex of Electricity
A microburst, combined with a lightning strike and a nasty looking clouds slam down over Casa Grande.
The dust bowl known as Phoenix
A shot of a second large dust storm approaching downtown Phoenix on July 18th, 2011.This happened just 13 days after the huge one on the 5th.
This is a night-time capture of a microburst over Casa Grande, Arizona. A microburst is a strong downdraft of rain and wind that spreads out when it hits the ground at incredible speeds, sometimes up to 100mph. You can see the rain falling, the way it spreads out and then dust that is kicked up flowing like waves over the city.
Over the Top
Lightning strikes off in Buckeye, Arizona.
The stormy skies of Arizona
Just some random dirt road between Phoenix and Flagstaff with storms up on the horizon.
Into the Light
Taken along Bush Highway northeast/east of Phoenix. Just a morning drive out to see what I could see during some rainy weather. One of my favorite shots.
Lightning on the 89A
A beautiful lightning strike shot west of Sedona, Arizona along Highway 89A.
Beauty before Dark
An epic sunset in downtown Phoenix from July 31st, 2011. A large approaching storm creates amazing colors in the sky. A dust storm looks under the dark clouds as it moves towards Phoenix.
San Tan Downpour
A downdraft over the San Tan Mountains during the 2010 Arizona monsoon season.
Intensity (a beautiful mistake)
Crazy, intense lightning strike over the deserts near Cave Creek, Arizona. This shot was composed badly so this is a a crop of the upper-left quadrant of the original RAW file, PLUS I never should have been on ISO400, was an error. However, I still love this shot!
A firey sunset on the horizon during a rainstorm near Lake Pleasant, Arizona.
Old Man Sunset
A tree that looks dead, but isn't, watches a gorgeous monsoon sunset complete with a rolling dust storm.
Lay down your burdens
A discarded sofa way out northwest of Gila Bend. Almost like finding a much-needed rest stop! Spotted during one of my stormchasing excursions this past Labor Day.
Speed Limit 55
The speed limit sign is illuminated by a passing car, while a giant lightning strike hits over Chandler, Arizona.
Sunset in Tucson
A severe storm approaches Tucson at sunset on September 10th, 2011.
Another dust storm
One of the many dust storms to hit Phoenix in the summer of 2011. This was September 11th.
Crazy lightning strikes in Casa Grande.
A thundering sunset
Three lightning strikes hit around the town of Buckeye just as the sun disappears on the horizon.
An old hinge for an old panel opening in downtown Phoenix.
Two lightning strikes appear to be mirror images of each other as they connect with the ground between some hills near the Cave Creek area.
Those dark skies
A tree near Sedona grows amidst the rocks as a rain storm moves by in the background.
War of the Worlds
This makes me think of those big, tall, robotic aliens from War of the Worlds walking over downtown Chandler.
The city in the water
A reflection in downtown Phoenix of Chase Tower and Freeport. Storm clouds in the sky and puddles of rain water create an awesome mood.
A few saguaro cacti watch a fantastic lightning show over Tucson, Arizona. The cactus on the left is actually leaning...that wasn't a lens thing :)
A sliver of color
Somehow the setting sun breaks through the clouds to give some color to falling rain near Joseph City, AZ.
North Mountain Strike
A lightning strike hits the North Mountain Preserve in north central Phoenix in late October, 2011. A surprise winterish thunderstorm.
Pillar in the Rain
A small pillar of rock stands amidst the Bradshaw Mountains during a heavy monsoon downpour.
A gorgeous sunset illuminates a giant Saguaro cactus, with the snowy Four Peaks mountain range off in the distance.
Me and my (at the time) 2 1/2 year old daughter, who was my co-pilot during the monsoon stormchasing season this past summer :)
The Three Watchmen
These three majestive Saguaro cacti watch a monsoon thunderstorm drop rain and lightning on the Bradshaw Mountains.
Flames on the Horizon
An amazing sunset out in the Four Peaks wilderness northeast of Phoenix, Arizona.
The last bit of light from the setting sun hits a few leaves of a prickly pear cactus out in the Four Peaks wilderness northeast of Phoenix, AZ
Wandering with the Arizona monsoon
One of my favorite storm images from the Arizona desert in 2010.
The Phoenix Haboob of July 5th, 2011
I'm an AZ native...35 years...never seen anything like this before. It was epic.
Lightning from down in Tucson, Arizona last night.
Strike in Sedona
A lightning strike from last night in Sedona.
A couple of strikes
Some lightning west of Sedona along Highway 89A.
The Rainy Desert
Some monsoon thunderstorms drop rain on the mountains along Table Mesa Road.
A puddle stretches out to reflect some stormy clouds during sunset over downtown Phoenix.
Lightning strikes downtown Phoenix on August 3rd, 2011
A short, 10-second exposure of lightning striking the Catalina Mountains surrounding Tucson, Arizona.
Two long lightning strikes hit Casa Grande behind this tall cell tower during the monsoons of 2011.
Standing in the middle of a long road is where I love to be. Here's one from a favorite spot of mine in Apache Junction look towards the Superstitions.
Tower of Dust
From last night's spring dust storm that rolled into Phoenix.
The iconic mountain between Phoenix and Tucson that people love to hike. Finally captured it with some storm clouds.
A storm on Picacho Road
A severe warned storm in Southern Arizona...hail and rain fall ahead and a tiny wall cloud is visible.
A little mothership
A smallish, rotating supercell races across the flat plains of southeast Colorado.
A Colorado gust front
This strong gust front moves away from the camera in southeastern Colorado on June 2nd, 2012. It passed over us and we were hit with powerful winds and a lot of kicked up dust.
A giant anvil in Oklahoma
A severe warned storm showcases a giant anvil right on the corner of the Oklahoma panhandle, a few miles from Texas.
The Hand of God
A thunderstorm explodes along the dry line along the panhandle of Oklahoma
A dying monsoon storm
A lightning bolt strikes around sunset as this monsoon storm begins to die out. Here's a timelapse that goes with it: Mike Olbinski on Vimeo
A strike near Eloy
An early monsoon lightning strike near Eloy, Arizona captured on July 3rd, 2012
An old abandoned house stands alone on the plains of southeastern Colorado as a severe thunderstorm, with mammatus clouds, approaches from the west.
Lightning on Sunset Point
A lightning strike east of the Sunset Point rest area.
A strike in south Tucson
A lightning bolt lands in the middle of the city of Tucson during the summer monsoons on July 16th, 2012.
A blanket of clouds over Phoenix
A stormy day in mid-March creates a moody scene over Phoenix.
A haboob rolls through Phoenix
A very well defined wall of dust rolls through Phoenix last night. At times it had the definition of the large one from back on July 5th, 2011.
Vehicles along Interstate 10 try to get out of the way of the storm. Traffic was slow moving north and once the cloud hit, the freeway was empty as police shut it down a few miles south.
Three strikes crash down amongst the mountains west of Gisela, Arizona along the Beeline HIghway.
A solo thunderstorm over north Phoenix grows and dies out right as the sun goes down. An amazing sight.
Back to the Future
A lightning strike off in the distance near Mammoth, Arizona
Sunset over Tucson
A lightning bolt strikes in the heart of Tucson during a beautiful monsoon sunset on August 14th, 2012. It's not super easy to make out, but there is a rainbow going into the sky along the right bolt.
A micro-dust-burst-haboob-something or other
A crazy capture of a strong microburst or downdraft, coupled with an approaching wall of dust. Taken just north of Casa Grande.
A flash flood from far upstream eventually makes it way to Grand Falls on August 20th, 2012.
A strike along the Beeline
A double lightning strike hits some mountains around the Saguaro Lake area as seen from the Beeline Highway.
A massive lightning strike crashes down just north of Interstate 8 about 15 miles east of Gila Bend
A barrage of lightning
UPDATE: Wish I could replace the image...I don't like the crop, I've fixed it for the better :) Just for fun...stacked lightning usually isn't my thing but this was kind of cool last night :) 12 images make up this stack of lightning shot over the the course of 10 minutes looking north from downtown Phoenix.
The heavens opened
A massive amount of rain falls from a thunderstorm south of interstate 8 right as the sun sets, creating a crazy beautiful range of colors.
Two strikes to Tucson
Two strikes land on the northern edge of Tucson during a beautiful sunset monsoon thunderstorm.
The sun sets on the monsoon
An end of year, beautiful monsoon thunderstorm creates an epic sunset over Phoenix.
Sunset on Page Ranch Road
A beautiful highway in far southeast Arizona at sunset during the monsoon season.
Cholla at Sunset
A cholla, or jumping cactus, is lit up by the setting sun during some winter storms.
From top to bottom
A beautiful thunderstorm creates four lightning strikes in a span of 20 seconds. One of them starts at the top of the clouds, veers left and then pentrates the lower layers to strike the ground.
A lightning strike splits into two separate bolts as it hits the mountains west of the Beeline HIghway near the Gisela exit.
The infamous boneyard in Tucson, Arizona against a summer monsoon sky. I took this shot for even reasons of A) liking the planes and B) wanting to name it Con Air :)
Crossing Interstate 8
A stacked image of nine different exposures captured over six minutes shows a strong thunderstorm crossing south over Interstate 8
Empire of the Sun
My daughter wandered off from me during a storm chasing excursion last summer and so I just laid on the ground and took some shots of her against the sky.
Two lightning strikes land in the deserts northeast of GIla Bend. One strike lands on the desert floor while the other hits a lone hill.
Three lightning strikes in the desert near the Four Peaks mountain range and Saguaro Lake. This is a stack of three images shot over the span of a minute, 16 seconds.
A large wall of dust or a haboob crosses Toltec Road south of Interstate 10.
Touchdown in Tucson
A long lightning strike finally ends up landing somewhere in the southern portions of Tucson, Arizona.
A forked lightning strike slams south Chandler in September of 2011.
A brilliant lightning strike explodes behind some towering powerlines along highway 85 west of Phoenix.
Tempe Town Lake Overflow
A record-breaking winter storm dropped over an inch of rain in Phoenix and much more northeast of the Valley. Runoff down the Salt River forced the Tempe Town Lake Dam to release water downstream.
This lightning strike appears to form a complete circle, even though if you look closely it just twists back and ends close to itself. Not my most favorite image of all-time, but I thought it was interesting!
Thunderstorm on Luepp Road
A summer monsoon thunderstorm drops rain on the beautiful volcanic hills along Luepp Road in northern Arizona.
White-capped Superstition Mountains
A rare sight around the Phoenix are: the Superstition Mountains covered in snow...which happens from time to time, but not as low as it was on this day. The surrounding base of the mountain range was dusted with the white stuff as well.
A trifecta over Tuscon
A sunset, a lightning strike and a rainbow. What more could you ask for? Beautiful storm, and beautiful colors over Tucson in mid-August of 2012. One of my favorite lightning images of all-time.
A strong lightning strike hits the mountains east of Mammoth, Arizona. Part of my Square Print collection
The Twilight Zone
Nothing I like better than a spooky, dark, cloudy scene when it's storming. Here is one of my favorite roads in all of Arizona...it's popular of course, for obvious reasons. The long road extending downwards towards the Superstitions in the distance.One of the cooler spots in Arizona.I captured this back in February of last year...a beautifully dark winter storm was blowing through and thus I hit the road as per usual. The one thing that seems to pop out in this image to make it extra-special to me is that one headlight. Something about it is ominous and when I looked at it again this morning, the title "Twilight Zone" just popped into my head.Ahhhh, I'm dying for some stormy weather...monsoon season just over a month away.
A couple of lightning strikes hit behind this power pole out on highway 85 between GIla Bend and Buckeye.
The Booker, TX Supercell
There are no words really to describe the moment we saw this storm. We (My buddy Andy Hoeland and I) had been driving through rain and hail, always on the wrong side when we finally make a gamble to just push south through the storm and get on the far side if we could. When we finally left the rain behind and had a clear look to our west…our jaws dropped. We stopped on top of a hill, got out of the car, set up the cameras and started recording this monster.Seeing something like this has been a longtime goal of mine. This was my fourth year chasing in the plains and I’ve never come CLOSE to this kind of structure. Pictures don’t do it justice. This was with a 14mm lens. It seems like it’s far away and safe, but in reality it was crazy close and we were ready to bail at any moment.When I finally had all the cameras going and sat back to just take it all in…tears filled my eyes. I yelled with joy at the top of my lungs, I gave Andy a big hug, thanking him for picking this spot almost a week before as our target location. We heard other chasers nearby hooting and hollering as well. It was a magnificent moment. You can see the timelapse of this storm here: Booker Supercell Timelapse
Storm of the Apocalypse
Another view of the Booker, Texas supercell which was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen.You can see the crazy timelapse of this storm over on my blog.
A heavy curtain of mammatus hangs over the Texas panhandle on June 5th, 2013. A lightning strike weaves its way through the bubbles in the sky.
Dance of the Gods
Naming lightning shots can be excrutiating. This one is no exception. All I know is there is a chaos of light, almost a dance of the God thundering over the Rincon Mountains.Took this last night (July 1st, 2013) down southeast of Tucson near Vail, Arizona.
Lightning over Casa Grande
A fantastic lighthing storm erupted just south of Casa Grande on this evening. You can even glimpse some blowing dust at ground level where the lightning is landing.
A plethora of lightning strikes hit just south of Casa Grande as the sun sets and gorgeous mammatus spread out into the upper levels.This is a stack of about 8 images.
Lightning near Camp Verde
My first time chasing storms since my recent trip to Africa ended up being a good little excursion. This strike south of Camp Verde came just as the sun had gone down. I love this part of Arizona￢ﾀﾦthe rolling hills, grass fields and beautiful landscape.
Lightning over the Rincons
An early monsoon thunderstorm sends a few lightning strikes down on the Rincon mountains in southern Arizona.
A hail core near Douglas, Arizona
A rarely seen thunderstorm with a strong hail core. These are usually spotted on the central plains, not southern Arizona. Taken yesterday! PS. Noted a dust spot I missed in my excitement to edit this one :) Cleaned up in the final version you can be assured!
Over Mount Graham
A late afternoon thunderstorm over Mount Graham this weekend.
South of Eloy
A great lightning storm south of Eloy out in the farmlands of central Arizona.
A dance at sunset
When I see multiple strikes in a lightning photo, I sometimes get the impression that they are dancing together. This was a gorgeous storm that sent down hundreds of bolts over 2 hours out near Buckeye, AZ.
Red Sky in Marana
A beautiful monsoon sunset north of Tucson in the Marana area.
A lightning strike hits in the little town of Palo Verde, just southwest of Buckeye.
Near Cordes Junction
An intense lightning storm lit up the area around Cordes Junction on August 22nd, 2013.
An Arizona supercell
This storm was utterly amazing. I sat there as it developed from a cell with a small shelf cloud in the front to a full-bore, epic looking supercell-like storm during the Arizona monsoon season.
Another intense Arizona thunderstorm out by Eloy on August 16th, 2013. This is a stack of eight images over the span of 10-15 minutes. The strikes were landing behind mountains off in the distance, which are somewhat obscured by dusty outflow.
First view of the Booker Supercell
We drove through torrential rain and hail for hours trying to get to the south side of the storm. When we finally burst out of the rain...this supercell was sitting there to our right. Hanging over Texas like a giant UFO. It was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen.
Lightning near Casa Grande
A image from the intense July 6th, 2013 lightning show just to the south of Casa Grande. This is looking from north of the city where the lightning had been landing just south of I-8.
A haboob out in Buckeye
Nothing is better in photography than happy accidents and unintentional shots you dig. This photo is a big example of that. As you may know, or not, I love road shots. I want to hunker down just a foot off the road and get an epic photo with a storm in the distance. Just something I enjoy. When you take pictures of storms, it helps to have good foreground elements and roads are usually the easiest thing to come by. But in this case, the road was busy. There was a beautiful sunset happening and a dust storm rolling across the mountains into Buckeye…so of course I wanted the middle of the road. But there were cars coming, so after I set up for a shot, I had to bail before taking a photo. So I hurried over to the left shoulder, set up the tripod and snapped the shutter anyways. I wanted to get the color in the sky before it was gone. And I ended up loving it because the slow shutter speed added some motion to the truck, which is driving right into the storm. This was taken back on August 18th in Buckeye along Highway 85. This was the same day an epic haboob rolled through Phoenix and I was way out here shooting a lesser haboob. Lesser haboob. I love it.
Crawlers over the Rincons
A lightning strike hits the Rincon mountains and also explodes outwards into the heavens.
In the Hills
Dual lightning strikes land between the hilltops of the Rincon Mountains southeast of Tucson, Arizona
The Boise City Supercell
I’ve been saving this image for awhile. It was taken during my storm chasing trip in early June of this year…and posting it kind of closes the chapter on that time. And what a time it was for me personally. Capturing that Booker supercell on timelapse and the way it was received turned that trip into one of the most important moments of my life. And thus…sharing this photograph basically ends what I have to share from those three days. So I’ve been putting it off. Beyond that though…I love this photo. I almost didn’t want to share it (might be hard to understand). It’s every reason I went out there. To see stuff like this. Yes, the Booker Supercell was incredible. The images of it with the orange backlight are surreal and I’m still astounded that I was there to capture that storm. But this photo…once I started working on the black and white version of it, I fell in love with it. Leading up to capturing this image, it felt like the day was going to be a bust. This was the day after Booker. We sat in the eastern Oklahoma Panhandle for most of the day, waiting for something to happen. But we got that target wrong. Storms to our west and northwest, in COLORADO, were going nuts and moving down into the Panhandle. I take credit for this storm because at one point I said to Andy “F it…we’re going west until we catch those storms or they die out. Let’s go.” And we blasted west. And we caught up to them. We did make another mistake though, which was to sit too far to the east of this storm waiting for it to come to us. We definitely should have gotten closer and to the southeast of it right away. But then I wouldn’t have been able to get this photo I don’t think. As it kept traveling southeast, we went southwest and met up with it right here. Driving down deserted farm roads…I told Andy I had to stop and grab this real quick. Moments before it hadn’t looked as good as this and then suddenly…bam, this gorgeous supercell with sick structure was hanging over the road. I couldn’t believe we were seeing one of these again, they very next day after Booker. I’d made three trips before to the plains to chase and had never caught anything remotely close to this and now we struck gold TWO DAYS IN A ROW. Needless to say…that trip continues to live on in my memory. Not sure any future ones will ever equal it. But you can always hope.
A rare November thunderstorm over the Phoenix area. That's the Intel plant on the right horizon! What a nice, surprise storm to get this late in the year :)
Out of the Cloud
I watched this little cell build up right before my eyes and was hoping I'd get a few strikes out of it. The moonlight helped illuminate the cloud so you could actually see it building with the naked eye almost as plain as day. It wasn't even a very large thunderhead when suddenly lightning exploded from it for a few minutes. Taken just east of Gila Bend along Interstate 8.
Through the Shelf
A lightning bolt blasts through a rare Arizona shelf cloud that just emerged from a severe thunderstorm north of Tucson near Marana. A semi-truck tries to stay out of the way. Blowing dust can be seen on the horizon.
This was the remains of the epic storm that we chased northwest of Booker, Texas. Here it finally hangs over Booker itself as it slowly dies out.
An enormous amount of lightning strikes hit the area just south of Casa Grande, including Arizona City and the Tohono O'odham Nation. This image is made up of about 30 separate photographs all stacked to show the amount of lightning that can hit in the same general area over about 26 minutes.
Severe storm near Douglas
A rare sight in Arizona￢ﾀﾦthat blue color that is the telltale sign of hail. This was a severe-warned storm located a bit north of Douglas. The storm even had some minor rotation on it￢ﾀﾦdefinitely something you don't see too often in this state.
A short, 15-second exposure, results in a single flash of lightning that struck the ground in four places out in Buckeye, Arizona, on August 18th, 2013
LIghtning over Sierra Vista
A powerful thunderstorm right over the town of Sierra Vista in southern Arizona.
A wall of dust or a haboob rolls into the eastern portions of the greater Phoenix area on July 21st, 2012.
A smattering of bolts land just behind the Tucson Electric Power Company
A dying supercell near Booker, Texas on June 3rd, 2013, dies out as it marches across the plains. It's truly amazing how big storms can be...where a 17mm lens on a full frame camera can only capture 1/4 of a supercell.
Lightning over Eloy
An early July thunderstorm rains down lightning over the small town of Eloy, Arizona.
This lightning bolt landed less than a 1/4 mile away just across this field from me. A 17mm lens on a full frame...and the lightning almost takes up the whole view. You can even see an orange spot where it hit just inside the tree line when it's zoomed in. See the cropped landing point right here: Squiggly
I rarely do exposures longer than 30 seconds for lightning, but a few years ago I was experimenting and took exposures close to a minute long. This was 58 seconds. The main reason I dislike long exposures for lightning is the ghosting you get in the clouds. I got a bit lucky with this one and also fixed some of the ghosting in post.
A dead-ish tree watching an incoming dust storm approach Phoenix from the south. This was the day before the historic July 5th, 2011 dust storm that went viral around the world.
Windmills and Lightning
A gorgeous shelf cloud with lightning near Leoti, Kansas on April 22nd, 2014.
A smallish supercell that didn't last too long rotates southwest of Wheeler, Texas on April 23rd, 2014
A lightning strike hits the Kansas prairie north of Scott City. I passed this spot and immediately slammed on the brakes...backed up on the shoulder until I had these trees composed exactly how I wanted...and then prayed that a strike would complete the photograph. I got lucky.
A Kansas Shelf
A beautiful shelf cloud on a marginal storm day in southwestern Kansas near Leoti.
Over the Top
You know...meet me halfway...across the sky. The only reason I knew that song is because I saw the Stallone film, Over the Top. This bolt seems to stretch all the way across the sky.
Near Sheffield, Texas
A strong, severe warned thunderstorm southwest of Sheffield, Texas, marches across these plateaus. A blue hail core sits behind a shelf cloud that partially gets lit up by a lightning strike.
A Colorado Sunset
A stunning sunset along Interstate 70 near the border of Colorado and Kansas. A line of thunderstorms racing away makes for some beautiful skies at the end of a long day storm chasing.
A shelf over Interstate 10
Far east of Fort Stockton, Texas, a gorgeous blue hail core sits behind a shelf cloud crossing Interstate 10
Approaching Denver International
This wall cloud was rotating violently and had a reported tornado touchdown as it headed for the Denver International Airport on May 21st, 2014
Wall cloud near Byers, Colorado
A lightning bolt illuminates a wall cloud east of Byers, Colorado. This storm had been tornado warned as it moved through Denver and eastwards for a few hours. You can see the lowering on the left just behind the farm houses.
As we watched two supercells practically collide over Carlsbad and head east, a new storm developed behind them, right over the city.
West of Carlsbad
A gorgeous sunset with an isolated thunderstorm/supercell west of Carlsbad, New Mexico
This little cloud hanging from a supercell near Strasburg, Colorado was rotating as it crossed right in front of us. We assume it was a brief wall cloud because the area of rotation was right in front of us on radar. Being this is a wide-angle, 14mm lens on a full-frame...this cloud felt super close and almost above us.
Sunset south of Sheffield
A line of severe thunderstorms move to the east as the setting sun illuminates the low hanging clouds.
The long way down
A wiggly lightning strike lands in the mountains off Dragoon Road in southern Arizona back on July 2nd, 2013
Watch the timelapse: https://vimeo.com/99851976 Last night was amazing. On my way south from Benson chasing some storms, I found myself noticing some dusty outflow to my west. As I got further south, I realized it was smoke from a fire. Since it looked fairly fresh, it appeared to have been caused by lightning. I sat and time-lapsed from the east at a location just north of Whetstone, AZ from 5:40 to 6:20 pm. I knew the road went west a few miles south and curved back to the north, so I assumed we'd be in a good spot to shoot more of the wildfire and a lot closer. I was stoked about the sun setting soon, thinking it would really make for some spectacular colors. It was incredible. The fire was burning on its own for awhile, not moving to vigorously in any direction...UNTIL a storm approached from the east and a strong outflow exploded the first to the west. You can see towards the end where I zoom in...how quickly the fire overtook the side of that hill. It was mind-boggling. I had to fly east if I wanted to stay in front of the fire and the storms...and that's where the video ends.
A gorgeous dust storm and low level clouds roll into downtown Phoenix on July 3rd, 2014. Always amazing to see a scene like this, but toss in a little sunset color and it blew my mind.
You can faintly make out a line crossing the lower part of the photo from right to left...which is the border wall between Arizona and Mexico. This was a first for me...a lightning strike in Mexico. Specifically Sonora. I couldn't find out the name of that mountain, but it's located southwest of Naco. Had a bit of color in the sky as the sun set behind us.
Sometimes when you get such an amazing sunset going on and a storm is right there in front of you...a prayer escapes your lips. Please God...give me a lightning bolt right where I need it to be. Make it awesome. And that's what I did while standing here last night. Thanks for the answered prayer.
Sunset over the Rincons
A 10-image, roughly 180 degreee panorama of a gust front making its way over the Rincon Mountains near the Benson, Arizona area on July 27th. You can see how it's curved from the right side all the way to the left and then back again over the mountains to the right. That was the outline of the gust front moving towards us. Stunning sunset...a timelapse of this will be on my end of year film I release at some point!
An intense lightning strike consisting of four bolts hits the ground south of Highway 74 near the town of Whittmann. Captured with a 16mm on a full frame, you can see how close the bolts actually were! A spectacular night of shooting.
A lightning bolt lands near the dry lake bed southwest of Wilcox, Arizona. Something about this bolt made me think of a scarecrow. A spooky...horror-film version of a scarecrow. This cell was also a mesocyclone, which you can kind of see from the rain being pulled from the top left to the bottom right...and the curved nature of the clolud base on the right.
Bolts rain down all over the place during this 30 second exposure south of Three Points, Arizona. The two left bolts were around a mile away or less, and the right one off-photo could have been just as close!
This lightning storm was so intense that a short 15-second exposure caught all of these bolts. A crazy night of non-stop lightning and fun out by Wickenburg, Arizona
Thunder and Stars
A rare opportunity the other night with clear skies to the south and southeast, and a thunderstorm the other way. My goal is usually to photograph lightning, but when I got out of the car and saw the MIlky Way ablaze over my head, I had to timelapse it. This is a frame from the timelapse, I can't wait to put it together.
As near as I can tell, this shelf cloud and lightning strike occurred over the Trigo Mountains southwest of Quartzsite, Arizona. A remote area I've never chased before, we had some severe weather predicted for the western parts of the state, so I headed over late morning and watched storms for a few hours until the big stuff showed up.
A lightning strike only a few miles away lands on the side of a mountain in the Buckeye Hills Regional Park. The lights from the Lewis Prison are on the right. Been trying all year to get a clear shot of a bolt hitting the side of a mountain...mission accomplished!
Long filaments or fingers of a lightning strike hang over the desert east of Wickenburg, Arizona.
Sunset on the Beeline
I’m a storm chaser through and through…that’s just what I do. I have a hard time going anywhere and just waiting for something good to happen. I’ve wanted to do a few trips this year, one mainly to a spot on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, just to camp for a few days and get some epic shots. But it’s not in me to do that. I love the chase. The unknown. What will I end up with tonight? This photo is a prime example of that. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but what it shows you is that beauty can be found anywhere, even though you don’t expect it. This was from July 6th of this year. I saw a big line of storms moving in off the White Mountains and thought I might get in front of them right when it got dark and could destroy some lightning shots over the hills. But as it neared me, the storms started dying, the lightning wasn’t coming my way. As I sat there bumming, this glow slowly appeared in the sky…and I wasn’t expecting it. The clouds were so thick everywhere, I had no idea the sun could possibly make it all this way. But then the clouds ignited and I couldn’t believe the color. It was intense. Sunsets are weird in a way. It’s like you know a storm is great because there is wind and thunder and rain, and you can “feel” it. A sunset though…it’s like something so amazing and powerful, but it’s utterly silent. You look up and see an explosion of color, but there are no trumpets playing, no orchestra…just quiet. Makes it all the better.
A thunderstorm's last gasp late on September 4th, before it died out completely. It might not be obvious at first, but this lightning bolt exits the storm near the top, indicating a positive cloud-to-ground strike, which is something I've been trying to capture this summer. They can be 10 times more potent than a negative lightning strike. Super nice to randomly get it on a storm that didn't last too long.
Lightning illuminates the famous airplane boneyard located on Davis￢ﾀﾓMonthan Air Force Base in the south Tucson area.
A large haboob or dust storm rolls across the desert north of Casa Grande, Arizona as seen from Highway 387. Minutes after this photo was taken there was zero visibilty as we were overtaken by the wall of dirt.
Wow, I had a spectacular show in front of me last night near Eloy! Tons of incredible bolts as the storm went right by me to the southwest. This was actually a severe thunderstorm that had rotation on it, strong inflow and my buddy Bryan Snider saw successive power flashes at one point. A train also had 35 cars derailed about 10 minutes before this image was captured. Glad I got out of the way in time to sit safely and take some shots. The remnants of hurricane Odile will make their way into AZ over the next 72-hours, it’s going to be nuts!
An intense, severe thunderstorm crosses the town of Eloy, Arizona...leaving damaged buildings, derailed train cars and an insane lightning show behind. The bolts were one after the other, non-stop for about 30 minutes or longer.
End of the Rainbow
A gorgeous thunderstorm dumps a lot of rain on the Superstition Mountains right as some intense sunset light illuminates the mountain.
Two bolts slam into the ground near Eloy, Arizona...as a severe storm rolls over town. This cell had a possible tornado on it and derailed a train as well as tore roofs off a few buildings. The lightning show from the south side was incredible.
The summer monsoon in Arizona came to an end on September 27th, 2014 when a major transition event in the form of a intense trough moved through the state and caused flooding and tons of damage. This was taken from the 101 freeway looking west across the greater Phoenix area. This incredible shelf cloud was the leading edge of an MCS that was severe warned and moved over the city quickly.
Beyond the Hill
A massive release of electricity explodes over the town of Whetstone, Arizona...with the cities of Huachuca and Sierra Vista off in the background. Taken along Highway 90.
This was the third night of my annual monsoon photography workshop and we finally saw some incredible lightning. And it was incredibly close. This was shot with a 50mm lens and you only see the bottom two thirds of the actual strike. Photographed south of Three Points, Arizona
This was probably one of the more dangerous photos I've ever taken. It's also my favorite lightning strike of the summer. I was parked well off the shoulder of the offramp here on 339th Avenue, well to the left of this frame. I was shooting in this same direction, but even though there were amazing bolts all over, the composition was boring and just didn't look right to me. So before I could change my mind, I grabbed my tripod and ran to the middle of the overpass, in the rain, and fired off about 5-8 exposures of 20 seconds. Two things popped into my head while standing out there. The first, of course, was that lightning was striking within a mile or two of my location. Sooooooooo....why was I on the high point of an overpass? And second...this was a skinny overpass and I had basically two feet of shoulder space. If a diesel came from the south and another from the north, I don't know what would have happened. I was watching of course and no one was coming from the south at all, so I felt okay...but it was nerve wracking. Even if I took off running...it would have been close. I had to take the risk though. The lightning was incredible. And all over. I knew the busy traffic of I-10 would result in some great light trails. But what I didn't expect was to get such an an amazing, super-close bolt. You can see where it hits just off the freeway, maybe a mile up the road? Probably less? It's hard to say. The way it flew into the frame from the right and then slammed into the ground was amazing. But the added element of the freeway and light trails gives the photo visible dimension. You can actually feel how close it was. It's been tough to get shots like this...mostly bolts land somewhere on the horizon, never giving you a good idea of exactly how far away they took place. Now this is a composite image. I always like to be up-front about that. It's only a composite though to fill in the light trails on the left side of the frame and to remove some distracting ones that were on the offramp. I took roughly 5-8 shots and so I had a few other frames to choose from to get the whole interstate lit up. I've been lucky before on a few shots like this where I captured all of it in a single frame...but this was only a 20 second exposure and even though I-10 is busy, a 30 second exposure would have been better. Normally I might have left it alone, but once I caught this strike...it was so worth tweaking it just a bit to make it perfect. Hope you enjoy this! Definitely a highlight of the season for me.