Arizona is a wonderful land -- one could say it was designed with photographers in mind. While many people from outside think of it as Arid-zona, a desolate desert full of sand and the occasional cacti, but the reality is very different. We have everything from deserts to mountains, from streams to lakes and waterfalls, from 110 degrees heat to cool alpine meadows. And most of all, we have a lot of sunshine, but also the sudden rain storm to cool everything down.
One of the busiest freeways in Arizona is Interstate 17, which links Phoenix to the city of Flagstaff in the north. I've traveled that road hundreds of times and I've always wanted to photograph a particular hill with nice cacti on top, but never got a chance to. Luckily, a few weeks ago that wish came true when a serious downpour from a passing storm forced me to pull off the road precisely at the spot I was eyeing for years! I took a few shots and then I returned to the same location two weeks later. The result is below -- a perfect composite image of rain and shine!
Just a few weeks later I found myself in Sedona, one of the most wonderful areas in Arizona that never ceases to amaze me. The weather forecast had a 20% chance of rain which in Arizona, means almost nothing. That's because rain is very spotty so you may have torrential rain coming down on you and bone-dry conditions only a hundred feet away.
With that in mind, I've started the short hike to Devil's Bridge, a natural arch (also known as a "window"). For the first 25 minutes, everything looked nice and sunny, despite the ominous clouds nearby...
The sun was shining brightly, but then the clouds started moving in very quickly...
Now "curtains" of rain were visible only a few hundred yards away... The storm was here!
Thunder and lightning was all around me and the rain started -- I had to get out of there! Safety first, but not before I got this remarkable picture that includes all that Sedona has to offer: its world-famous red rocks, a passing storm and a bunch of happy hikers thrilled to be there for such a unique moment. To top it all, my shot was selected for National Geographic's Daily Dozen collection of best photos a few days later.
The rain lasted just minutes before the storm moved on and beams of sunshine started piercing through the clouds.
A few moments later, the sun disappeared behind the clouds so I started heading back home to Phoenix as the chances for a nice sunset grew quite dim. I left Sedona behind, but the storm wasn't done yet! She put on a final grand show of rainbows and lightning that I captured in my last photo of the day. A day to remember!