Don't Look Behind You

We were driving back to AZ from CA, when my wife and I saw this haboob approaching from the south. It was coming fast so we pulled off of the interstate, with a plan to find a place to park and get out of the storm. But, as we pulled off of the exit ramp, instead of turning away from the haboob, I turned toward it, down the short road leading from the off ramp to the edge of the desert, grabbed the camera and jumped out of the truck. I tried to stay calm (really tempted to say composed here) as I tried to compose as many shots as I could, especially when I saw the dust-devil developing.
The whole time I was shooting, my wife was yelling for me to get back in the car and get away from the storm. Minutes later, we drove away, stopping on the overpass to take a few more shots of the haboob as it crossed the interstate.
We were about a mile down a side road trying to find cover, when we found a short wall and clump of trees along the entry to an abandoned resort. We pulled up tight against the wall, to avoid getting sandblasted. While we waited for the storm to arrive, I jumped up on the wall and continued taking images of the approaching dust wall, diving back into the truck as it engulfed us. About an hour later, after the haboob and accompanying thunderstorm passed, we were able to continue on our trip home, passing several haboob induced accidents along the way.

Specific Feedback Requested

Thoughts about the composition. I could have cropped into the scene and highlighted the dust devil more, but I wanted the effect of the overwhelming haboob to be the subject.
Does the brighter foreground (was illuminated from the side, before the storm darkened this too) create a distraction, or does it provide contrast with the approaching haboob.

Technical Details

Nikon D850, Nikon AF NIKKOR 50 mm 1:1.4D, ISO 900, 50 mm, f/16, 1/1000 sec. Processing in LR with cropping for composition.

1 Like

Hey Marlin,
I love this forum. Not only am I learning more about photography but I’m expanding my vocabulary as well. Haboob isn’t a word we use in the Midwest.

I’m really drawn to the lighting in your photo. How the sunlight: lights the FG, brings out the texture of the clouds and brings out the color of the dust is amazing. Then the dust devil connects everything together and brings a quality to the photo that wouldn’t be there without it.

Thank you for the comments. I had to look this up, but, “haboob,” is Arabic for the word "blown ". Haboobs are giant walls of dust created from high winds rushing out of a collapsing thunderstorm. We have several of these during the monsoon season here in Arizona. I was very excited to see the dust devil as well.

Marlin, I really like this image. Like @David_Starr said, your lighting is very good. I grew up in Albuquerque. I don’t remember us having haboobs, but we sure did have sandstorms. I love seeing the sage brush, the tower of blowing sand and the dust devil in the background. Makes me miss the west. Thanks for posting. Nicely done.

Donna, Thank you. Generally, I am not a storm chaser, but there was no way to get away from this one. The whole experience will make this image one of my most memorable.

The photo is dramatic, but your story is even more so. What an experience. The lighting here is wonderful, with each layer being different. The composition keeps my eye moving through the focal point of the image. Great shot!

Thank you, Chris. Yes, it was exciting to shoot. Everything was happening pretty fast.