The 2012 Arizona Monsoon in Timelapse

Well this is my baby. All the hard work timelapsing last summer is now in one single place. A short film, 19 minutes long, that is the payoff for all the hours, miles driven and time away from family in 2012. The video took me quite awhile to produce. Most of the timelapses were completed in one form or other last fall, but with the busy wedding and family portrait season upon me, I had to put it on the back burner for awhile. But slowly this year I’ve pieced it together, organized it, cleaned it up, found music and finely tuned my simple presentation.

And now it’s here. I’m damn proud of it.

No, I don’t use a dolly. Yet. I’m not sure it’s important to have one but all the most amazing timelapses usually have some kind of motion in them. But timelapsing while you storm chase is quite a different beast than planning to shoot the Milky Way one night out in Joshua Tree National Park. You never know when or where a dust storm may crop up. Or lightning. Or a ridiculously awesome monsoon sunset. Sometimes I literally cannot get my tripod set-up fast enough. The secondary idea of ALSO having to get a dolly set-up, not to mention figuring out in my brain just exactly how long this dust storm will take to get to me, is fairly difficult. But I may yet be moving that direction this summer. We’ll see.

But for now, these are simple timelapses that show you the nature of the Arizona monsoon. Walls of dust…beautiful clouds, amazing sunsets, rain, gorgeous landscapes…all of that stuff. It’s what I love about this state. It’s what drives me to chase over 7,000 miles every summer.

Some of the clips in here have been posted separately before, but there are a bunch that haven’t been seen, including a storm moving over Tucson over the course of 90 minutes.

My only regret is that the lightning portion is super-brief. I debated putting it in at all, but there are a couple of clips I really loved and they needed a place to be seen. This coming summer I hope to have a bit more patience with timelapsing lightning for longer periods of time. But the monsoon is fickle and lightning doesn’t always last too long. It moves with the storms and makes it tough.

Everything was filmed on Canon 5D Mark II’s, using the Canon 17-40 L, the 70-200 f/2.8 L and a Rokinon 14mm 2.8. I use a wireless intervalometer to run the shutter and then I kick back and watch the storm roll in or take stills with the other camera.

I am showing it here for free, but if you love the movie and feel like purchasing it for your personal collection, or to view anytime on your iPhone, iPad or whatever, it’s available for $5. I will email you a link where you can download the movie. You can click the button down below the movie to buy!

Also…I’m posting this on my birthday! I never ask for these kinds of things, but as a little gift to me, if you enjoyed the film, I’d love it if you could spread the word via email, share this on Facebook, Twitter or wherever. It would mean a lot! When you put a lot of hard work into something that people are supposed to watch, you want to try to get as many people to see it as possible!

Thank you for checking it out, I hope you enjoyed viewing it as much as I did filming it and I truly desire for you to fall in love with Arizona like I have. It’s such an amazing place.


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  • Cap’n Schwartz

    Happy birthday!!! And a quick question … If you time lapse a time lapse … What would happen?

  • Joy

    Mike, this was absolutely amazing. Pure wonderous beauty. Thank you SO much for sharing and happy birthday to you!

  • Mark Shannon

    Excellent work, Mike!

  • Chris Frailey

    Congrats Mike. This looks great.

  • Michelle Feeney

    Soo beautiful! Thank you for sharing your passion. Happy Birthday!!

  • http://facebook Ellie Frame

    Just beautiful! I grew up in Tucson. I use to race up to Mt. Lemmon to watch the monsoon storms from there.. I still love a great thunder storm!

  • Ruth Montgomery


  • Rich McPeek

    Awesome work Mike! Outstanding!

  • Marilyn & Dennis

    Absolutely gorgeous…. particularly love the sound of the wind; your talent is such a delight. We are very proud of you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

  • Jim Denham

    Happy Birthday Mike – awesome present for ya! Incredible views and amazing movement! Really well done!

  • Josie

    So awesome, Mike! And Happy Birthday!

  • Bob Lussier

    I’m blown away! (no pun intended)
    Happy Birthday, dude. Nice present to yourself!

  • Mike Weasner

    Impressive and well done, Mike. I enjoy participating in our monsoon from Oracle.

  • Jesse Pafundi

    Incredible work. The sharpness and clarity across all of these is amazing. Bravo.

  • Scott

    Have only been able to watch the first couple of minutes at work but I can’t wait to see the whole thing. Looks amazing, bud. Nice work.

  • murphyz

    Awesome work Mike, can see it’s a real labour of love. Happy birthday also 🙂

  • Chris Maskell

    Awesome Mike, I really enjoyed this, Happy Birthday Buddy

  • carlos

    Happy Birthday! What an awesome project!

    One minor quibble… you might want to change the word “runs” to “ran” in the opening sequence. Makes it sound like Monsoon runs on a schedule every year rather than last year’s season ran from this date to that date…

    And, yes, this state is amazingly photogenic….

  • Patti

    This is wonderful! People don’t understand my fascination with living in Arizona and the Monsoon. I hope this seaon is better; I would love to see you do more time lapsed thunderstorms with the rotating clouds, lightening and rain. Great job!!

  • DT

    Awesome video Mike.

  • Mike

    @ Carlos – It actually does run on a schedule out here 🙂 It used to officially start after three days of dew points over 55 degrees, but now we have a set time period that the NWS came up with.

    I mean, it shows up when it wants and stops when it wants, but we do have an official season that runs from June to Sept 🙂

    Thanks for the kind words!

    @Everyone Else – Thanks so much for the kind words and sharing this video with your friends…been amazing!

  • nita

    just awesome! this is why i love the monsoons! happy belated birthday!

  • carlos

    Huh! When did they do that? I haven’t watched local news since we moved up the hill, but it was always tied to three days of dew point data when I watched the weather….

  • Matt

    I fell in love with Arizona and it’s monsoons since my first visit. Thanks for the fantastic movie. It cements in my mind the steadfast opinion that you are a fantastic talent (which I knew all along anyways). Happy Birthday and keep doing what you are doing Mike. It’s an amazing body of work that you are creating.

  • Mike

    @ Carlos – It was within the last 3-4 years. You can Google it, but here is a link to more info:

  • Mike

    absolutely beautiful and captivating work. very inspiring. congratulations and thanks!

  • Toad Hollow Photography

    Totally all over that, Mike!! Great production, my friend, can’t wait to get my link and download this to my iPad so I can see it over and over and over and over again!! Well done, this is such a great film!

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  • Gilles

    Wonderfull skies! Nice work! Sometimes, spending time to capture movie on a cam is anoying, but the result is here !

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  • Clif

    I’m late to the party here but happy birthday and congratulations, Mike!

  • Bill

    Beautiful job.Having a mild interest in tome lapse video with my Canon, I’m curious about some of the background info. Wireless intervalometer make, frame rates and editing software.

  • Srinivas

    Amazing video. How beautiful the world is!!. Happy birthday Mike!. I really appreciate your hard work, time and creativity!!.

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  • Kari Salomon

    What incredible imagery! Thank you for sharing all of this- so many weeks of hard work for you. My students will enjoy- and hopefully leave some comments.

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