The Great Haboob Chase on Interstate 8

On July 9th, 2018, I woke up in Blythe, California, and checked the forecast one more time and it confirmed what I already knew the day before: the potential for an awesome storm rolling west down Interstate 8 was looking pretty good. And with that came the likelihood of a dust storm, or haboob. I already had the entire day’s route planned out…I’d hit south near the border towns of Sells and Santa Rosa, then head back north to I-8 to catch the storm outflows from Phoenix and central Arizona.

Rarely does a forecast come to fruition so perfectly…but this one did. I chased some good severe storms in the far southern portions of the state, and then headed north…hitting the town of Chuichu south of I-8 just as things got rolling. A big microburst kicked up a wall of dust that would move west and eventually merge with other, strong storms that rolled through Phoenix.

We jumped on I-8 and got west out of the dust and pulled over first at Vekol Road, my favorite spot along that freeway. The wall of dust was incredibly impressive…shelf cloud over it, the dust connecting right into the cloud base…it was amazing.

It was around 5:00pm at that point…and the chase would continue, for hours, all the way to Yuma. One of my final shots came around 8:30pm in the area of Ligurta. All told, around 140 miles and three and a half hours of chasing. Never have I chased a wall of dust for that long. Or been chased!

Besides July 5th, 2011…this was hands down, the best haboob I’ve ever seen. So many shapes and sizes. Incredibly density and definition. And the colors at sunset. Magnificent.

The film has all the clips from start to finish…somewhat in order, but not always. The microburst at the start was in Chuichu and the final scene was Ligurta.

It was fun to not only share this with some other chasers all having the time of their lives, but also with two of my kiddos. What an experience to have together!

Hope you enjoy this, and the music by Ryan Taubert.

I shot around 5,000 frames on two Canon 5DSR’s for this. Lenses were the Canon 11-24mm and 50mm 1.2.

Edited with Lightroom, LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro.

Breathe

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Music: Breathe by Ex Makina licensed through the Music Bed
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The moment I heard the opening thump of bass…I knew I would be using this song for my film. But then those haunting vocals hit my ears…and blew my mind. It was like a punch deep in my soul. It’s hard to explain that feeling when you first hear a song and you immediately fall in love with it. Almost like you’ve known it all along.

I hadn’t even planned to start working on this film yet, but I was so inspired that I furiously began to lay down time-lapse clips. I couldn’t stop pouring over it. It was last September and I was supposed to be working on Monsoon IV, but I forgot all about it once I heard Ex Makina’s “Breathe.” It almost felt like it was made for a black and white storm film.

About halfway through editing, I knew the song title would be my film title as well. It was so perfect I couldn’t believe it. Sometimes for me…when I’m chasing or watching an amazing storm…I’ll realize I haven’t taken a breath in awhile. Never really thought of it until I heard this song.

I love being inspired by other artists. I love soundtracks. I can’t imagine the movie Interstellar without that powerful pipe organ soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. Music is so important to what I do and I’m so incredibly thankful to husband/wife duo Iain and Rebecca Campbell for writing this amazing song. Thanks to the MusicBed as well for having such fantastic musicians and artists.

In early 2017, I put together a film called Pulse that was my first ever black and white time-lapse movie. It was so different and fun, I wanted to do a follow-up this year before the next chase season begins. Breathe is made up solely of storm clips from 2017…either from the spring across the central plains or from the monsoon here in the southwest. Some are favorites, some are just ones I knew would be amazing in monochrome and others I used because they fit the music so well.  I also went with a wider aspect ratio on these films to give it more of a cinematic feel.

This is also the first film I’ve ever done in full 8K resolution. I’m super excited about that. You may not be able to watch it in that resolution, but it’s there if you can. Otherwise, 4K is a must if you can!

I truly hope you enjoy this. For me, I needed something to pass the time and bridge the next few months as I wait for supercells to return to the plains. But honestly, I truly love putting these together. Thanks for all your support in the past and feel free to share!

Technical Details:

I used two Canon 5DSR’s along with a Canon 11-24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 135mm and Sigma Art 50mm. Manfrotto tripods. The final product was edited in Lightroom with LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro.

This was 2017

I usually get this blog post out before the end of the year, but aside from two weddings I had to shoot in the last three days of 2017, I took some much needed time off. So January 1st it is! It was a crazy year…the busiest one for me so far in many ways. Mostly on the storm chasing front. I drove more than ever before…35,000 miles during the spring, about 14,000 during the summer. Long days on the road and many, many days away from my family. Two workshops during the summer down in Tucson. It was incredibly rewarding, but the grind was wearing. I welcomed the offseason big time.

Being able to switch gears from storms to portraits I fully believe helps keep me balanced. I photographed 32 weddings and did around 52 other photoshoots. I met some insanely awesome people this year, traveled to cool locations and captured some super fun events.

This blog post is in chronological order. I released four time-lapse films this year which are scattered about in the midst of waaay too many photos below. But I took out so many ones I loved out already, I couldn’t cut anymore. These posts are also just for me personally, to be able to look back and quickly remember what happened in a year.

Highlights for me are of course the four films, but a road trip through Oregon with my buddies early in the year, a trip to California Adventures with the family, adding our pup Winnie to the mix, having Anderson Cooper walk in to a wedding reception, a rainy shoot in Sedona, an Antelope Canyon elopement, the McLean tornado, two plains storm-chasing tours, incredible mammatus and asperitas sunsets, visiting Montana twice, a trip to Holland with Jina, taking Lyla and Eli along for a late June chase in Colorado, haboobs in southwestern AZ, a landspout tornado in downtown Phoenix, lightning at the Grand Canyon (FINALLY), shooting a wedding in a monsoon downpour, photographing a wedding where Lyla was the flower girl, seeing families I love for late year Christmas photos, taking some last images of my late Grandma and finally, seeing an epic rocket launch.

Thank you all so much for your support during the year, it means so much to me! I hope you enjoy this look back at 2017!