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Chasing storms yields two windmills

Yesterday I was out in Northeastern New Mexico to be ready to photograph possible severe storms that were forecasted in the area and the weather didn’t disappoint.

Two Windmills and a Thunderstorm

“Two Windmills and a Thunderstorm”
New Mexico
(Click on above photo for a larger view & to purchase prints)

The photo above was photographed after two back-to-back powerful storms brought rain, wind, and hail (and almost a tornado) to an area along I25 north of Las Vegas, NM.

With my colleague Christine Hauber driving her Kia Rio (not the typical storm chasing car mind you) with me in the passenger seat monitoring radar using my favorite weather app RadarScope, I was safely able to put us in position to photograph the storms and avoid the nearly golfball sized hail that had fallen in the area.

Once the storms passed we were treated to spectacular light with the thunderstorm slowly rolling away. We were lucky to find this scene with two windmills and the thunderstorm behind them before the magical light weakened, allowing me to create my favorite photo from our storm chasing adventures that day.

Here are some snapshots and video of the storm from my iphone:

We drove almost an hour and a half to catch up with this slow moving storm as it crossed I25 just north of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Almost all northbound traffic stopped and pulled over as the storm was crossing. There was some slight rotation in the clouds but the rotation never materialized into a tornado. Had it, I would have been in perfect position.

We drove almost an hour and a half to catch up with this slow moving storm as it crossed I25 just north of Las Vegas, New Mexico. Almost all northbound traffic stopped and pulled over as the storm was crossing. There was some slight rotation in the clouds but the rotation never materialized into a tornado. Had it, I would have been in perfect position.

 

Hail and heavy rain made for a noisy drive along the frontage road heading south next to I25

Hail reached nearly golf ball size - fortunately this hail fell shortly before we drove into the area.

Hail reached nearly golf ball size – fortunately this hail fell shortly before we drove into the area.

 

Earlier we had seen a snowplow out - this is the reason why as hail covers I25 southbound north of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Earlier we had seen a snowplow out – this is the reason why as hail covers I25 southbound north of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

 

Photo Details

Details on my Two Windmills and a Thunderstorm photo above:

Photographed hand-held with my Sony a7R, Metabones III adapter, and a Canon 70-200mm lens at ISO 125, 1/250 at f13. The RAW file was processed in Capture One Pro and further enhanced in Perfect Photo Suite 8.

One of my photos featured during Crated launch in SOHO NY

Very cool to see one of my photos of Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah featured during Crated‘s launch in their SOHO, NYC gallery at the Soho Arthouse on 138 Sullivan ST.

Crated is a new place on the web for photographers and artists to sell their work.

You can check out my gallery on Crated here and purchase posters, canvas, and framed prints.

The making of my blood moon lunar eclipse photo Part 2 of 2

This is part 2 of how I photographed the blood moon lunar eclipse on April 15th.
For info on how I photographed it with camera settings visit part 1. Here in part 2 I talk about how I enhanced it on the computer.

Following the 5 hours or so of sleep I got after photographing the lunar eclipse till 2:45 in the morning I began to create the final image on my 15″ MacBook Pro laptop.

The saguaro cactus scene that was photographed with my Sony a7 and Sony FE 35mm f2.8 lens was processed in the RAW converter Capture One Pro.

Looking at a before and after photo of the enhancements made in Capture One Pro.

Looking at a before and after photo of the enhancements made in Capture One Pro.

In the above screen shot you can see a before (bottom photo) and an after photo in C1. I made a number of slight tonal adjustments and color/saturation adjustments. I also corrected the perspective of the photo to remove distortion brought on by the wide angle lens, and corrected some lens vignetting. Notice the shadow detail I was able to bring out of the original photo. I have found I can pull out a great deal of shadow detail from the Sony a7/a7R cameras and Capture One Pro.

I exported the processed file as a tiff file to my computer, then opened it up in Perfect Layers in Perfect Photo Suite 8. While Perfect Photo can be opened as a plugin from Photoshop, I prefer to use it as a standalone program.

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The making of my blood moon lunar eclipse photo Part 1 of 2

In part 2 you can read how I enhanced and built the composite photo using Capture One Pro and Perfect Photo Suite 8. Read it here.

Overnight on April 14 through early morning April 15th we were treated to a wonderful total eclipse of the moon that at it’s peak turned the moon a blood red color. The eclipse was visible to most of North and South America – at least visible to those of us who had clear skies that night.

Suess Lunar Eclipse over Phoenix web

“Lunar Eclipse Blood Moon over Phoenix”
North Phoenix, Arizona
Purchase prints of this photo right now during a special limited time promotion.

The event is rare, with the most recent total lunar eclipse happening on December 21, 2010. However we are in for a treat as we will have 3 more total eclipses in North America within the next 1.5 years: October 8 of 2014, April 5 of 2015, and September 28 of 2015. After that we will have to wait another 3 years before another one happens.

Some pre-planning first

I knew of the April 15th eclipse a few weeks prior to it happening, which gave me plenty of time to prepare. I was still going to be in Phoenix which was great as the weather is usually perfect and rarely cloudy & rainy. So I started planning my final image and what I needed to do to create it.

Right off the bat I knew I was going to somehow incorporate saguaro cacti in my photograph, as they are a unique feature here in the Sonoran Desert. I have been spending numerous evenings photographing sunsets this winter out in the desert where my RV is parked here in North Scottsdale and knew the location would be perfect for the eclipse.

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Zion National Park 2013 Fall Photo Workshop Wrap-up

I am now back in Scottsdale, AZ following the 5-Day photography workshop Christine Hauber and I taught in Zion National Park, Utah. Registration will open later this week for our 2014 Zion Fall Workshop but in the meantime enjoy this wrap-up from the 2013 workshop.

Getting up early to catch the first rays of sunlight is what is needed for great photos and our students were up for the challenge.

Getting up early to catch the first rays of sunlight is what is needed for great photos and our students were up for the challenge.

We were treated to some unseasonably warm temperatures this year with daytime temps reaching the upper 60’s to low 70’s and nighttime temps falling to just above freezing to the low 40’s. While the fall foliage this year wasn’t as good as in the past – see my fall foliage 2013 report here – we still were not at a loss for beautiful and dramatic things to photograph.

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Fall foliage report in Zion National Park 2013

I arrived in Zion National Park, Utah Monday night after sunset, 4 days in advance of my 2013 Zion Fall Foliage Photo Workshop. I had already been hearing the reports that the fall foliage this year was not as great as it normally is. In addition whatever peak colors they did have happened much earlier this year than normal.

Christine Hauber and I arrived early so we could scout this years colors and find the best spots for our students. Sad to say, the red maple leaves are gone – if they ever existed to begin with this year. Finding clear bright yellow cottonwood leaves is difficult, with the majority of leaves being of a green and yellow mix.

20131105-200325.jpg
Some may think that with such a poor fall foliage season that there isn’t much to photograph this year. But far from it.

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