Wednesday, July 28, 2010

First Storm Chase of the Year

In my ever expanding love for photography, I always look forward to this time of the year. The time when midday hints that there will be a stormless night, and to the contrary, a storm comes that floods the entire city. Now that I'm self employed I have put aside this time of year to do what I love most about my job, travel and chase storms. As of yet, I haven't been too lucky this year, but yesterday I made the decision to chase a storm up near Black Canyon City, for those of you who don't know where that is, its on the I-17 about 30 miles North of Phoenix. I saw this storm building on the satellite and I knew that I had a chance to intercept and get some good shots. Very quickly I grabbed my gear and took off.

40 minutes later, I pulled up over the hill and was staring face to face with this black giant looming in the air. The mountainous geography gave the clouds shapes and colors that The Valley never see's. The Sun was emanating rich, vibrant colors onto the clouds that I haven't seen in over a year, it was beautiful. But the ominous storm was threatening to overtake the beautiful sunset. My AM Radio was crackling and cutting in and out due to the unseen lightning up above. I knew this was my chance to get the shots I wanted.

I pulled off on this beat up dirt road and headed towards a mountain so I could climb it and get a little elevated to strengthen my shot. So I grabbed a towel and my gear, ran up the hill and started setting up. Like a slap to the face, the front of the storm hit me before I could even get a shot off. I held on to my tripod and towel with a death grip in hopes to not get blown away by the 50-60mph winds that overcame me.

I thought of retreating back to my car at first, but knowing how storms work, I knew that the wind would stop as the front of the storm passed me by.

Just as I thought it did, but soon to follow was rain. I had about a 2 minute window to capture the fleeting light form the sunset. The feel of rain drops told me my time was up.

In flip flops, shorts and shirt, I felt one drop, then two, before I could take another breath the flood gates opened up. I had no choice but to throw the towel over my camera and run for the car. This storm was serious.

Heading up was easy, but running down a makeshift trail burdened with rocks and small cliffs in the rain with flip flops made this move dangerous. I repeated in my head, don't fall, don't fall. I could bare a broken arm, but breaking my camera would be miserable. I made it down to the car just in time. I was soaked, but the worst was yet to come.

A little disappointed from not getting a lightening shot, I waited out the storm patiently in my car where I was able to get a few last shots of the sunset.

The rain never let up, my spot was perfect, I got there at the right time, but unfortunately the storm got there with me too, and I wasn't prepared for the torrent of rain.

But the sunset shots were great and I'm more than enthused to go out again and try my luck with the next passing storm!

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