Since moving to Washington State back in the spring of 2012 I have made it a point to get back to Arizona at least once every summer to chase the Arizona Monsoon. During those trips something of a tradition has developed where I make a storm chasing trip to the northern part of the state with two of my friends, Bryan Snider and Chris Frailey. I was during that trip last summer that I made this image which I simply titled “Over There” for what is a somewhat obvious reason when looking at the image.
For Monsoon 2015, our trip north ultimately took us to the Petrified Forest National Park. For those that have never been, the Petrified Forest offers some of the most beautifully stark landscapes you will come across anywhere. Even though there aren’t a lot of roads in the park, it really is a great place to capture weather images, the contrast between the storms and the desert, IMO, is captivating. The downside to there not being a lot of roads in the park, there are not a lot of places to be able to pull over the capture those images. You are generally limited to scenic vista points and the roadside pullouts near trailheads.
This particular shot was captured at one of those highway wide spots with pull off parking. The storm was due south of us and the only place to shoot from was on the north side of the road meaning that we were actually shooting across the highway. Generally speaking this wasn’t much of a problem other than having to try to time shots between passing cars, fortunately traffic was fairly light when we where there.
While the three of us were setup and shooting the storm to the south, a very nice couple pulled up, got our of their car with their cameras and asked us about capturing lightning. We explained the basics to them and really assumed that the woman would shoot from beside us. As you can see from this image, she took a different approach and walked to the other side of the highway and started shooting. I am not really sure that she actually captured a bolt of lightning, she was shooting hand hold and would concentrate on where a strike had previously occurred kept missing the real action. As I said, she was actually quite nice, and when we pointed out that she had jumped right into our shots she moved, but I do think that there was a bit of mother nature’s justice in that she was constantly point in the wrong direction and the lightning was always “over there.”
While I have at least 100 other lightning images from that day alone, I suspect that this will be the last one that I share from the 2015 monsoon. I am really looking forward to making at least one Arizona trip for Monsoon 2016 and for the annual trip north with Bryan and Chris but before I finish this blog post I thought I would share one bonus image of two good storm chasing friends that I captured with a humble iPhone.