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Westward Ho Haboob II

Ever heard of a “Haboob”? Don’t worry neither did I, well until about two weeks ago when a monster Haboob close to a mile high ripped through not only downtown Phoenix but all the outlying suburbs as well. Its just a fancy name for a dust storm, but on a massive scale. These Haboob’s can change light to dark. They can swallow skyscrapers whole. Here is how Wikipedia’s describes the formation of an Haboob just in case you are curious as ever now:

 During thunderstorm formation, winds move in a direction opposite to the storm’s travel, and they will move from all directions into the thunderstorm. When the storm collapses and begins to release precipitation, wind directions reverse, gusting outward from the storm and generally gusting the strongest in the direction of the storm’s travel.

When this downdraft, reaches the ground, dry, loose sand from the desert settings is essentially blown up, creating a wall of sediment preceding the storm cloud. This wall of sand can be up to 100 km (60 miles) wide and several kilometers in elevation. At their strongest, Haboob winds can often travel at 35–50 km/h (20–30 mph), and they may approach with little to no warning.

This photograph was taken from the eighth floor of my Apartment building as the brunt of the storm rolled through just to the West of me and the downtown Phoenix landmark, the Westward Ho. I am keeping my eye out again tonight as there is supposedly another one forming. Oh I have figured out a pretty good way to forecast  when the next Haboob’s will hit…just wash your car and within 24 hours another Haboob will hit. =)

It happen to me twice now.

Lightning through Westward Ho

The Phoenix area has been experiencing these storms almost daily and that the monsoon season is an exciting time for weather in Arizona because it helps to relieve the heat. ‘They come in real fast and dump a lot of rain, lightning and thunder in a short amount of time.’ APizm said. ‘This is shaping up to be one heck of a monsoon season, and I think I speak for a lot of Arizona residents when I say yahoo, keep them coming.

Hoover Dam Bridge Series – Jamey Stillings

To be honest with you I was quite jealous when, of all people, my old man showed a power point slide show of all of the photos from this series a few months ago. You could not ask for a cooler subject matter to capture. And because it was so close to my home I was super jealous when I saw them. I should have thought of this before he did. Argh. He got special access to the site, he could take photo’s of anything he wanted except the faces of the workers. Full Access to the Hoover Dam Bridge…now that is awesome.

Well the jealously faded and I finally got a free night to go checkout the Series over at the Phoenix Art Museum. Now I am a big fan of LARGE format photography and I heard that they were, but sadly the prints at the museum tonight were not.  In my humble opinion, They just weren’t big enough for me or the subject matter. I would have like to see them measured more in feet then inches. Due credit he did have a lot of them but I would have settled for less prints but larger. Composition was so spot on. Jamey really has a wonderful eye. He made mixing and combining man-made and nature look easy, believe its not. Ok back to the prints for a moment…again not happy with the prints. Im not sure where he had them printed at but they just weren’t as crisp as long exposure bridge work should be. Photographs are not made from the middle they are made from the corners. At the PAM until December 16, 2011


 Subject Matter: Hoover dam bridge-come on. A+

Presentation: Less and larger prints please. C

Composition: Genius. A

Technique: Corners. B

Cool: The presentation gave it the grade. B

Final: Definitely go see it if you are in the neighborhood AND its free admission. B+




Valley of the Sunflowers – Volunteers


The Valley of the Sunflower Project in Downtown Phoenix is continuing to grow (pun intended). You can see it in the soil as the sunflowers seeds have now rooted and are beginning to sprout. But more importantly, you can see it growing within the volunteers.

So far I have been focusing my photography on the changing landscape of the project but yesterday I decided to focus the lens on, in my opinion, the more important part of project,  the volunteers that continue to dedicate their time and effort.

As a photographer, you sometimes, for better or worse, tend to get a little tunnel vision when documenting a project. So yesterday, as I was focusing my efforts more on the volunteers I started to noticed something. They were all smiling and it wasn’t just when I said “Cheeeeese”. Moving bales of hay, in the Arizona heat, is not the most fun volunteering job in the world. But you could not tell that from observing the volunteers work. It was both awesome and inspiring to see.


Civic Center Park-Phoenix, Arizona

This project makes visible to the human eye the patterns of desert winds. During the day, sunlight projects patterned shadow drawings onto the ground and pedestrians on their daily paths. At night, the colored illumination gradually changes color through the seasons. The large three-dimensional multi-layered form is created by a combination of hand and machine knotting of recyclable high-tenacity colored polyester that is replaced in new color variations at intervals.

-from Janet Echelman