Monsoon Shoot, Day 1 (June 22, 2019)

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Back in November, I visited northwest New Mexico and thought immediately I had to absolutely return to shoot in the summer.

I didn’t know it, but that was exactly where my first full purposeful day of monsoon shooting in 2019 would lead me. The San Juan Basin is generally wide open with incredible rock formations and jagged monoliths — its the ideal place to shoot storms out west. The weather setup was simple, an upper storm system was passing to the north and despite only having mid 30s to lower 40s dews, there was going to be instability and thunderstorms.

Dry thunderstorms.

Now don’t get me wrong, this whole concept was so foreign to me but I was super intrigued, so much so that I forgot about the possibility of chasing supercells on the Plains on this day and went for it. The storms weren’t completely dry but they had tiny cores that actually reached the surface and the scenery was fantastic.

At sunset these ‘dry’ storms were still forming near the Chuska mountains (which run along the AZ/NM border) and they put on a show. You can see how these cells had thick sheets of rain that seemed to just disappear near the surface. Only light rain with small pockets of moderate rain were observed.
Northwest New Mexico lends itself to tons of amazing foreground subjects. This is probably my favorite spot in New Mexico for photography. The Navajo Nation and surrounding areas is gorgeous and the people are even more beautiful than the lands they inhabit.
A more detailed shot of the rock formations with the bit of sunlight hitting the front side and stormy skies above.
This whole scene was magical and the time-lapse should be ‘out of this world’.
One of my parting shots at sunset. The rain had overtaken the previous location and I retreated to the higher terrain just beyond and managed to get this lone bolt of lightning as the sunset. You can see the rain is more readily reaching the surface in the small area in the middle.
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