I was along Highway 70, south of Pampa, just to the northeast of Groom, Texas. The area that the tornado forms had been mostly outflow-dominant for the hour before...but while I was out taking some photos of the windmill at the start, the wall cloud tightens up and suddenly a brief tornado forms.
Later on, towards the end...my truck gets hit with some strong winds and suddenly there is circulation off on the other side of the road, which I think was a gustnado, but can't be sure. May have been a weak tornado touchdown.
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All summer long when I'm chasing storms, I'm also time-lapsing. It's actually my main goal when I'm out there. A clip here and a clip there. Some days you get nothing great, some days you get SIX amazing scenes in a single afternoon. A powerful rain shaft. An intense hail core dump. Shelf clouds. Dust storms. Lightning. The Milky Way. That's what I'm capturing out here in Arizona between June 15th and September 30th every year, which is our official monsoon window. And this is the result of all that time spent.
My favorite part of capturing all this is when I sit down to create this final film. While some scenes are worthy of standing on their own, a lot of them need to be part of something bigger. And when I start laying it out, they suddenly morph into this collection of storm imagery that tells the story of my summer.
This year I wanted to raise the bar. Not compared to everyone else, but my own personal bar. I licensed music this time. I wanted two amazing songs and I think I found them. Powerful, fast-paced, intense. Nothing gives life to your clips like a beautiful soundtrack.
I'm incredibly proud of this film. I've probably felt the same way every year in the past, but there is something about this summer that blew away the others. And I think it's because I'm better at what I do. I'm finding the structure in storms like I never have before. Our haboobs (dust storms) were limited this year, but those days were amazing, as you'll see. And I caught even more lightning this summer than the last two years combined. I think the scenes are more powerful and cinematic than ever. And for this final product, I've quickened the pace and I believe I'm finally showing the monsoon in all its beauty and glory.
There are over 45,000 frames in this film. I drove over 14,000 miles across Arizona. This takes work, time and patience. The month of July felt like a huge failure. It was a rough start. It seemed as if the year was going to be brutal and I'd be lucky to capture anything good. And then it all changed and I'm here now releasing what I feel is my best overall work to-date.
I'd like to thank a few people. Dustin Farrell, Sean Parker, Jesse Attanasio, Joel Schat and Bryan Snider. All of you helped me in some way. Answered my technical questions, helped me switch to better software, enabled me to take another leap in quality and inspired me. I appreciate your friendships and willingness to share.
Mostly though, I have to thank my family. My two older kids, Lyla and Eli (6 and 2 1/2) were along for the ride for many of these storms. The final shot in the whole film was one where my wife was out of town and I took all THREE of the kiddies with me, including my youngest who just turned one. I'll always remember that moment. The Milky Way blazing in the sky, I was feeding the baby a bottle, and taking turns with Lyla who did the best she could until her arm got tired and I took back over. Out there on a dark road off Interstate 10. Meeting another photographer named Val and just enjoying a spectacular moment with my kids all being a part of it.
My wife though. Jina. Wow. She believes in me like no one else could or ever will. She knows what I have to do and empowers me to do it. In fact, while I want this film to be amazing for everyone watching, I truly want to impress her the most. It means that all the time away this summer was worth it. Because life is a little bit nuts during the monsoon in our house, where I've returned from a chase at 6:30am having being out for 16 hours straight, only to go back out later that night after only a two hour nap.
I say it a lot and I'll say it again. I wouldn't be here without her. And I love her for it.
Technical Details and Credits
This past spring I purchased an eMotimo and Dynamic Perception rail system…but I ended up not using them. At all. I wanted to. Believe me. But many of these clips aren’t very long in real time. Sometimes less than 15-20 minutes in a lot of cases. If I took the time to set-up a rail or panning head, I’d be missing a lot. So none of the clips this year use outside motion control.
I used two Canon 5D Mark III's along with a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 and Canon L lenses, like the 17-40mm, 16-35mm, 50mm, 35mm and even the 135mm.
Songs: Bernini's Angels by Kerry Muzzey and Inertia by Dexter Britain
Thank you for watching. All clips are available in 4K resolution. Please email, comment or message me on Vimeo for questions, licensing inquiries and whatever else you might need
You can see how it's curved from the right side all the way to the left and then back again over the mountains to the right. That was the outline of the gust front moving towards us.
Stunning sunset...a timelapse of this will be on my end of year film I release at some point!
#storms #photography #monsoon #sunsets #stormchasing
An amazing sunsets east of Sonoita, Arizona. The sky was on fire from a monsoon thunderstorm and the setting sun of course, but an actual wildfire was off camera left of this image, which created a sky full of smoke and only enhanced the colors this night. I was amazed when I turned from the fire to look at this mountain...that the field of grass was actually reflecting the reds and oranges. It was stunning. A rainbow can faintly be seen over the mountain peak.
Roughly five hours of real world build time.
Music by the always great Kevin Macleod
Last week we were out chasing storms and saw a bonanza of shelf clouds south of Phoenix...later in the afternoon I went south past Picacho Peak and watched two large cells move closer and closer together until suddenly they merged into a large thunderstorm, with a hail core and structure. It look completely like a supercell and on this time-lapse, you can see the back end of it rotating for a little bit. Early on in both clips you can also see the bluish hail core dump on the right side of the base!
I have a few other clips of the shelf clouds, but really wanted to show this guy. Awesome to see this kind of storm in Arizona...and especially in March! Great start to the year already.
The season opened with an epic haboob (or dust storm) over Phoenix on July 3rd, and it may have just capped off the monsoon with another beautiful dust storm yesterday evening.
I was behind this thing after chasing down south for most of the afternoon, and it was all I could do to make my way through the dust safely and come out on the other side to time-lapse this bad boy.I stopped first near Riggs Road and I-10 to get it marching through the desert, and then raced to my favorite spot downtown to get it with that epic view of Phoenix.
This guy was moving fast…the video is only from 6:21 to 6:44pm…but I’m glad I got there when I did. The way it comes over the mountains always blows my mind, and then watching Phoenix get completely engulfed is something I never get tired of seeing.
If this indeed near the end of the monsoon, it sure is going out with style!
Sometimes when you get such an amazing sunset going on and a storm is right there in front of you...a prayer escapes your lips. Please God...give me a lightning bolt right where I need it to be. Make it awesome.
And that's what I did while standing here last night.
Thanks for the answered prayer.
#arizona #monsoon #lightning #sunset
I sat and time-lapsed from the east at a location just north of Whetstone, AZ from 5:40 to 6:20 pm.
I knew the road went west a few miles south and curved back to the north, so I assumed we'd be in a good spot to shoot more of the wildfire and a lot closer. I was stoked about the sun setting soon, thinking it would really make for some spectacular colors.
It was incredible. The fire was burning on its own for awhile, not moving to vigorously in any direction...UNTIL a storm approached from the east and a strong outflow exploded the first to the west. You can see towards the end where I zoom in...how quickly the fire overtook the side of that hill. It was mind-boggling.
I had to fly east if I wanted to stay in front of the fire and the storms...and that's where the video ends.
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- Mike Olbinski PhotographyIntegration/Photography, present
I love taking pictures… making pictures. Finding pictures in anything and everything. I’m self-taught and still learning which probably explains my unquenchable desire to grow and grow and grow.
I love candid photography. And I love merging that style with portrait photography. I was inspired years ago when my wife and I had an anniversary photoshoot, and I was blown away by how simple, yet powerful, the candid portrait can be. The style is sometimes called photojournalistic or journalistic portraiture. Whatever you call it, that’s how I shoot it. Kids, babies, teens, engagements, families, whatever the occasion, I love capturing those special moments for people where they can let their personalities and feelings shine through and create a keepsake that will last forever.
I love event photography. The same passion I have for candid pictures drives the fun I have shooting a birthday party, a baby shower, a church get-together, anything where people are gathered for a purpose. The images you capture at moments like these feel more real than almost anything else I photograph.
I love weather photography, landscape pictures and anything else that strikes me as being worthy of a shutter snap. There is no limit the things I find interesting. I’ve photographed flowers, buildings, mailboxes and a million other odds and ends. But when it comes to storms and weather, I have a deep desire to capture nature in all of its raw power and glory. After living here in Arizona my entire life, I’ve suddenly gone through a re-awakening when it comes to what’s around me. Arizona offers an amazing venue for lightning and summer thunderstorms. We also have an endless supply of natural beauty from the dry, desert floors to the snowy peaks of the northern areas. This state is gorgeous.
That’s who I am. I would love to get to know who you are. If you are interested in using me for your photography needs, just contact me. You can use the form below, it’s quick and painless!