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You are looking about 1500 feet (457.2 meters) down into a canyon and at an incoming mega monsoon electrical storm, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) away just before it slams into 6 Mile Bend. I hardly had time enough to pull off about 4 series of bracketed exposures before having to run for cover.
A friend of mine leads fishing tours down below and next years “Chasing Monsoon Light” Workshops may include an extra day touring the lower canyon below.
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The full story for those who may be interested:
After spending several weeks in this location scouting and shooting, looking for some special locations and dramatic conditions, I was half way down in the canyon (the canyon here is about 1200 -1500 ft) when I heard a very deep rumbling sound in the far distance. I paused for a moment to see if it would repeat. After it did, I checked the wind direction and then I knew another potentially violent thunderstorm could be on the way. The real question was if I could climb all the way out of the canyon in time to get back to my preferred composition and then to my rig so I could take much needed shelter. 30-40 minutes later, as I reached my rig, armageddon was just beginning to approach the area. My impulse was to dive into my rig (especially after being knocked down by lightning a week earlier on the North Rim) but the other part of me knew there may be an unusual photo opportunity to be had. With my gear on my back, I ran several hundred yards including some modest scrambling to this position and I was greeted with a scene that honestly intimidated me. This monster storm you see (at about 2 miles away – in this photo) was heading straight toward me and I knew it would be on top of me in a minute or two. With my lightning trigger on my cameras hot shoe mount, I set up in less than 45 seconds, shot off about a dozen images, including several lightning strikes, then I RAN back to my rig and dove into it as fury slammed the area.
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It aimlessly drifts with the wind
We find ourselves in places of unfamiliar faces
Bathing in the shadows of sin
Our souls become lost up in the holocaust
That once was a beautiful life
Like a ship drifting upon the tide we bang and then we ride
The white horse straight into death
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Consider joining Alex Mody and myself for three days and two nights of sunrise, sunset, nighttime photography, and fully-outfitted camping on this remote desert plateau, featuring the world’s most interesting, unique, and otherworldly sandstone formations in October 2016:
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Post Processing Video Tutorials
After finishing one of my Ultimate SW workshops in whom excellent professional photographer Kevin McNeal attended, Kevin and I decided to continue the chase for dramatic light. Sitting at McDonalds in Kanab Utah, a violent thunderstorm and torrential downpour struck hard. We quickly checked all our weather apps and Kevin turned to me and said, “It’s going to go over the North Rim dude!” Without hesitation, I said “Lets go!”
We made the North Rim quicker than may be legal, with lightning striking the whole way there. Thinking this was “it” we jumped out at the first turn out and started shooting like crazy. In just minutes we captured tens of lighting strikes (not even using the lightning trigger). After some time I started realizing that this was in fact, not “it” and the storm was actually building and getting more incredible with every passing minute. We both took off to another pullover and continued with the same amazing results.
Finally, after literally hours of shooting at various pull over locations, I decided to make a mad dash to Wotans Throne, my favorite location on the Grand Canyon. As I got there I could not believe what I was witnessing! Rainbows, Mammatus clouds, God rays, fog rolling into the canyon, lightning striking non stop about every 30 seconds, was all building into a monumental crescendo.
In an adrenalized panic I grabbed my Sony A7r, Canon 11-24 and tripod and ran to my favorite spot. Suddenly, before I knew what had happened, I was on the ground literally HIT BY AN INDIRECT BOLT OF LIGHTNING! It happened so fast I did not know what had happened. Although not injured, I was disoriented and terrified for a minute or two. I even got shocked. I ran under a tree and then said to myself, “Mark this is NOT safe at all!” So, I climbed down about 10 feet off the cliff and hid in a small cave / alcove for several minutes to get my head together.
Finally, I said to myself “can you really NOT shoot that?” So, I ran out and began the process of photographing again. Every time I would start hearing a loud ringing/buzzing in my ears, or the small tree next to me start buzzing loudly, I would run back into the alcove. I decided to ditch the tripod for safety and shoot hand held. I also popped the Lightening Trigger on and it began shooting constantly.
Kevin showed up directly above me and we laughed the yelled out in excitement as the sun began to set and the scene went ballistic. There were 4 Japanese girls taking photos with their “point and shoots” and every time the lightening would strike, we would all laugh and yell out in applause. I have been photographing Landscape full time for over 13 years now and this was definitely the most amazing shoot yet.
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In other, more important news, I have returned from the Everest region of Tibet after a month spent in China recently and am busy preparing to launch my new website on November 15th of this year. At that time only will my new images be posted, including dozens of new works, unless you happen to be at YellowKorner Gallery in Hong Kong tomorrow evening for my media event and pre-release showing.
Until then, this shot from this past summer’s storm chase in Arizona will need to suffice, as it makes too good an addition to my portfolio collection here to leave out despite the fact it won’t see as much attention the second time around. This image was 2-second exposures minutes after the sun had set, and to obtain it I pretty much drove around like crazy following storm cells until that time occurred, and composed what I found.
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