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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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.
One of my favorite things after a summer of chasing storms in Arizona is to release a short film of my time-lapse work during that time. I've released two of those now and I can't wait to see what happened this coming monsoon season.
Last year was the first time I was able to time-lapse while I chased outside of Arizona, on the central plains, which ended up being a very short film of a single, amazing storm near Booker, Texas: https://vimeo.com/67995158
This year on the plains, I wanted more time and more clips of the wide variety of weather out there. So between two trips in April and May, I spent a total of seven days in the central plains of this country, which included Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas. From I-70 to I-10. And everywhere in-between.
It was an amazing time and I essentially got something everyday we were out. Some days were amazing...like wall clouds with reported tornadoes approaching the Denver International Airport...or an awesome, red sunet on a marginal day in western Kansas. On one of our last days, it was a ridiculously blue hail core which you'll see in a few separate clips.
My journey wasn't solo...my buddy Andy Hoeland helped forecast and get us to the storms, and Matt Granz was a fellow photographer who made sure we pulled over at certain spots when I was too intent on chasing down a storm.
I brought along an eMotimo for the trip, but I forgot my power cord for the battery and wasn't able to get a replacement while out there. Regardless...most of the clips you see would have been lost if I'd taken even an extra few minutes setting up a panning head or dolly. Time-lapsing storms is a different beast than setting up for a Milky Way shot over the course of the night.
I used two Canon 5D Mark III's, along with a Canon 17-40, 16-35 and a Rokinon 14mm. A couple of Manfrotto tripods and mainly a Pixel Intervalometer along with a Promote Control when I broke the Pixel :)
This trip took us over 3000 miles in the course of those seven days. It was something I wont forget and I hope this film showcases a lot of the hard work that went into chasing the storms themselves, getting ourselves in the right spots for the best shots and recording them as quickly as I could.
If I have any regrets...it would be that I wish I would have seen another more picturesque supercell mothership and maybe a tornado.
On the first trip I also failed to clean my sensors, which resulted in a few dust spots. My second, five-day trip, I cleaned them before I went and during the trip. I struggle with dust spots, because if you spot remove in Lightroom, you can get funny results...so which is better? The dust spot or funky changing dots that might be even more noticeable?
I also used Adobe Premiere Pro for the first time ever and I have to say, it was a way better experience than editing in Final Cut Pro. In fact I'm uninstalling that here in a bit.
If you have any questions about this short film, how I captured it, edited it, etc., please ask below and I'll do my best to answer.
Hope you enjoy!
You can find some still photos from the trip over on my blog: http://www.mikeolbinski.com/theblog/
(Edited using Lightroom 5, LR Timelapse, Quicktime Pro 7 and Adobe Premiere Pro)
A few weeks ago I went on a last minute trip to the plains to chase for two days. The first day was marginal for eastern Colorado and Kansas…it was the next day that I was stoked about. But as things usually work out…day one turned out to be the best. Not only did I get some good structure with some crazy shelf clouds and lightning, but I also captured this guy…probably one of my all-time favorite lightning strikes.
I’m kinda proud of this one. Sometimes you see lightning and you just stop, pull out the camera and hope you get something without thinking much about where you are. But for this one…I saw the sun setting and knew a line of storms were coming towards me. As I passed this field, I saw those trees out there and pulled off the shoulder. I backed up and backed up until they looked just like this. I set up the best composition I could think of and then prayed for lightning.
It was actually amazing. Even without the lightning, this scene was breathtaking. The sun was setting, and illuminating the falling rain…and the trees isolated by themselves made it feel like it some kind of picture or painting right there in real life.
#phoenix #azchasers #kswx #lightning #kansas #trees #plains #stormchasing
- 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!