Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Haboob Chasing and Why You Always Need to be Ready for Anything

A Rare Chance - Just be Ready

Last week I headed up to Phoenix from Tucson for several reasons. One reason was of course to shoot some stock. As always, when ever I travel. Camera's were locked and loaded, as always. And as always, the timing was planned. Yeah, right! Actually, I learned a long time ago that one never really knows what can possibly offer up some footage or photo opps. I just think along the lines of, always be ready, as always. I am probably writing "as always" too often here as always. 

The point is simply; be ready to roll, as always!

Along comes a Freak of Nature

So I am driving up the 10 Freeway north of Tucson, clouds puffing, rain clusters happening. This is the monsoon season after all. As I approach Marana, I see out of the corner of my left eye, something. Something I have wanted to shoot for years. The only problem was, I was always too far east to get such lucky shots when it would occur. What I am talking about is a dust storm from hell. Or as we now call them, Haboobs. (That's Arabic for dust storm.) In any case, I start focusing on getting to a place that I always wanted to check out. A little exit way before Picacho Peak known as Red Rock. A nice new development with a nice park. So I exited the freeway and visited this park. There is was in a distance... a dust storm coming right towards me. I set up and started shooting, for all of about 2 minutes. At this point I had to scramble to get the gear back into the truck as the this storm creeped up on me very quickly. Damn. 
Run! Get away! It's coming!

Off to the Next Potential Shooting Grounds

I quickly booked up to the next exit which was Picacho Peak. Pulled off and simply let the GoPro on my front windshield go to work. Crazy lightning, rain and of course, dirt, dust, brown gunk!

Approaching Picacho Peak during the onset of a major Haboob

So I fond a cool location and let it roll for a nice dramatic time lapse.

Off to Phoenix to Greet the Great Haboob

Having lived in this area for a few years, I knew that we in Tucson have a tendency to send these storms to Phoenix. Okay, it's not really "us" per-se, but rather mother nature. I took off to stay ahead or basically play hopscotch with this storm. My goal was to simply somewhat get ahead of it. I knew I could. I knew I could drive at least 75 mph and win the race. I figured if the Haboob was traveling at that speed, it would be somewhat like "end of days". I had a chance.

I Won the Race!

Of course now that I was just south of Phoenix, I needed to find another place to setup. I did. Twice. Once down in Sacaton, and then just south of Chandler. Both locations gave me enough "breathing room" time-wise to get some super cool time lapse of the storm moving in. The rest is history. The footage is uploading as we speak.

But that's not all ...

That evening I decided to go up on a mountain top to shoot Phoenix by night. Got there just before sunset and the colors were amazing. You see, that dust that gets all blown up and out, creates that sky that Arizona is famous for. Those Arizona sunsets are simply priceless. 

Gorgeous Sunset!

All in all, this was a pretty productive day regarding stock footage... storm in the morning featuring a Haboob, sunset in the evening overlooking the city of Phoenix. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The Syrp Genie shooting Phoenix from a mountain top.

Think about this the next time you go on any trip. Even if it is just to the next town or city. Have your gear ready to rock and roll. You just never know what opportunity might come along. This was not luck. This was simply another day in the life of a stock shooter. It just happened to be a really good one!


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