July 2003, Near Mammoth Lakes, California
Summertime thunderstorms are quite common on the eastern side of California's beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. As temperatures rise in the afternoon, storm clouds begin to form over the mountains. Unfortunately, as evening approaches the temperatures fall, meaning that by the time sunset occurs those beautiful storm clouds are usually just a distant memory.
This sunset at the Minarets overlook would prove to be different. I had been to this same spot several days in a row, hoping to capture that elusive stormy sunset. It was late July, and powerful thunderstorms had pounded the Eastern Sierra all week long, but they never could quite hang on through sunset. Now it was 7:45 pm, and sunset was only 25 minutes away. The billowing cumulonimbus clouds were massive and obviously going nowhere soon. It looked as though my perserverance had finally paid off. This would be my night.
I set up my 4x5 large format camera and studied the scene carefully. I had been hoping for a beautiful sunset, but this thing was out of control. The sun setting behind the clouds set them on fire, creating a scene more powerful than a thousand atomic bombs. As I watched the drama in the heavens unfold above me, I became overwhelmed by the power and majesty of God. I've seen countless beautiful sunsets in my travels, but none more memorable than this.
I had to remind myself to get to work. There are times when I hate photography, and this was one of them. All that I wanted to do was continue watching the sunset. I could hear "ooohs and ahhhs" emanating from the crowd of awestruck onlookers as I busily worked beneath the dark cloth, desperately trying not to screw up the shot. When it was over, I knew that I had witnessed something very special. Better still, I got it on film.
CaliforniaCloudsEastern SierraMammoth LakesMinaretsMountainsRidgelineSouthwestern USAStorm CloudsSunsetThunderstormlarge format4x5