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Monsoon III (4K)

Blu-Ray discs available by clicking here
Song by Kerry Muzzey: “Revenge”/ “Revenge: Epilogue” (on iTunes and Amazon)
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If you asked the average person, many would characterize this summer’s monsoon as a down season. Not a lot of storms overall and it seemed generally more quiet. And in many ways it actually was a slower season. All told I chased about 36 days for this film, which was less than the 48 in 2015. We had an early start in late June, and then it was dead for almost three weeks. When I looked back and realized I chased 12 less days…yeah, it definitely had less action than normal.

But to a storm chaser, none of this really means anything. Sure there were days when nothing was remotely possible to chase, but most of the time the monsoon can be found in the far corners of the state even when Phoenix and Tucson are dry as a bone.

For me personally, I loved this season. Maybe because as a filmmaker, having put out a few of these films now, I’m beginning to focus and hone in more on what I really love to time-lapse. My early scenes years ago had a lot of average clouds and distant rain that didn’t have a lot of excitement or energy. But as the years go on, and I learn more and more about chasing storms here in Arizona…I’ve found myself in better spots to capture the stuff I really enjoy. Strong downbursts of rain, building clouds, lightning…and yes, dust storms.

The one thing I was hoping for in 2016 that the previous years have lacked: Haboobs. Dust storms. Rolling walls of dirt and sand engulfing the deserts and even Phoenix itself. And my wish came true in that regard. Even a very late season, September 27th haboob that I captured right at sunset with glorious colors.

Coming off the heels of filming Vorticity in the spring, with monster supercells and tornadoes, the monsoon is a totally different beast and you’d think it would be less exciting. I don’t know. I find them both amazing and inspiring. Weather to me is weather. No matter how mind-blowing it was to witness the Wynnewood tornado this past spring, standing in front of a rolling wall of dust, or a distant lightning storm under the stars…it’s all a blast to me and I never get tired of it.

So Monsoon III…the credits will say it, but it was around 36 days of filming, I shot over 85,000 frames and am not sure how much made it into the final cut. The song I used was “Revenge” and “Revenge: Epilogue” by Kerry Muzzey, and I took both of them and sliced and diced them until I actually had a six-minute version to fit in with all the footage I captured.

As always…THANK YOU to Kerry Muzzey for supporting my work by letting me use his music once again. I don’t even have enough words for this man for doing this for me. It means more than anything!

I started editing this film mid-summer once I figured out the song I was using. And as days went by and more clips were rendered, I kept adding them and re-arranging them all the time, trying to get every clip to match the tone and feeling of the music. And then I’d think I was done and more storms would come and I’d have to move things around again, and even drop stuff. I have a lot of fun stuff that’s not in this film because I only wanted the very best!

Special thanks to Bryan Snider and Dustin Farrell for some tips this summer on editing out dust spots and birds better than I had been doing. Appreciate it fellas!

My wife takes the brunt of what I do, especially when I’m gone for days at a time. Filming in Arizona is easier because I’m usually home at some point in the evening and at least around in the mornings. But it’s a lot of work and a lot of time being away. She supports me like no other and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have someone with that much faith in what I do.

And a lot of these clips will forever hold memories for me because my two oldest kiddos were there for a lot of them, and at times even all three were nearby. My littlest guy who just turned three, sits on my lap while I edit a lot, listens to the music and loves watching the final product. And he wants to keep watching it…over, and over and over.

Makes a daddy proud.

I hope you enjoy this latest installment. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything! Most of these clips were shot in 8K with some 4K stuff thrown in there as well.

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Captured with a Canon 5DSR, two 5D3’s, 11-24mm, 16-35, 35mm, 50mm and 135mm.
Processed using Lightroom, LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro

Near Ackerly, Texas

A gorgeous supercell hovers over the farmlands near Ackerly, Texas

May 31st was one of those days where you would have been happy to see just about anything. Marginal, not much hope…and we had woken up early in Garden City, KS and drove all the way to Lubbock, Texas just for a shot.

We got on one storm early, but as it died out, a southern storm near Lamesa was growing and an outflow boundary was headed right for it. Once they merged, the storm went full-blown supercell and it lasted for around an hour…such a treat on a day when we were worried we wouldn’t see much!

Drift

An incredibly cooll scene out at the Four Peaks on July 1st, 2016. Strong winds push a dumping hail core way out ahead of the updraft and on top of the Four Peaks Mountain Range.

One of the coolest things I’ve seen during the monsoon in Arizona. The tower on the left was an incredible updraft that I got to see explode upwards, and then the hail started falling…but strong winds took the downdraft and pushed it southeastward over the Four Peaks. Not sure I’ve seen anything like that…Tim Marshall called it a “hail drift”, which sounds about right 🙂 I got the entire genesis of it on time-lapse too, so that will mostly undoubtedly make the final edit of Monsoon III, whenever that comes out!

Killer chase yesterday, ending on Interstate 8 with a fantastic lightning show. Today I switch gears to shoot an intimate wedding in the Red Rocks of Sedona!

Waves

A shelf cloud passed over minutes before, leaving in its wake low hanging clouds that looked as if you were staring up at a crashing wave in the ocean.

A shelf cloud passed over this house minutes before, leaving in its wake low hanging clouds that looked like an ocean wave rolling over you from underwater. It was a stunning scene and the time-lapse of this shelf rolling over my position is pretty insane. Can’t wait to share it when my next film comes out later in June!

May 16th, 2016 near Spearman, TX

The Brush

This was one of those storms I was on from the very beginning. I saw the anvil explode into the sky and slowly the storm evolved and as it neared me, the structure was amazing. I love this brush-like wall cloud hanging over the Texas prairie.

April 16th, 2015. What a great day. This was one of those storms I was on from the very beginning. I saw the anvil explode into the sky and slowly the storm evolved and as it neared me, the structure was amazing. Over the course of two hours I only moved about a mile. I love this brush-like wall cloud hanging over the Texas prairie.

You can see how I edited this image on a screencast I’ll be releasing in the coming week! Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get notified when that’s available…for subscribers only!

Drillbit

As we stood there watching a radpidly rotating wall cloud spin west of Canadian, Texas...a little drillbit of a funnel started to drop and while it never touched the ground that we saw, it was stunning to see in person.

Ahhh…I can’t wait for spring to get here! This was May 27th, 2015…as we stood there watching a rapidly rotating wall cloud spin west of Canadian, Texas…a little drillbit of a funnel started to drop and while it never touched the ground that we saw, it was stunning to see in person.
I think that was the first time I’d ever really seen a funnel form like that right in front of my eyes. So badly wanted it to touch the ground.

Salome

I love this shot mainly because it was the only lightning bolt that I saw come out of this little cell and it took about 15 minutes for it to happen. Patience is not one of my best qualities, but nothing else was happening around me and so I decided to just aim at the spot the rain was falling and hope to get lucky. And boom, this gorgeous strike right after sunset...west of Tonopah along Salome Highway.  That's a good strategy out here in Arizona...lightning can do anything for the most part, but if you aren't sure where it's going to happen, aim at the rain shaft and you've upped your chances at capturing something.
I love this shot mainly because it was the only lightning bolt that I saw come out of this little cell and it took about 15 minutes for it to happen. Patience is not one of my best qualities, but nothing else was happening around me and so I decided to just aim at the spot the rain was falling and hope to get lucky. And boom, this gorgeous strike right after sunset…west of Tonopah along Salome Highway.

That’s a good strategy out here in Arizona…lightning can do anything for the most part, but if you aren’t sure where it’s going to happen, aim at the rain shaft and you’ve upped your chances at capturing something

Clear Air

Sometimes it's obvious where you aim your camera when you photograph lightning in Arizona, mainly near the rain shaft is generally where you'll see the most. But when one fires behind it and it's super close...you turn your camera and hope to get lucky again. I caught two more, this was one. A gorgeous, clear air strike out over the dry lake bed near Willcox, Arizona on July 11th, 2015.
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 35mm f/1.4 l, iso 100, f/9.0, 10 sec // buy prints)

Sometimes it’s obvious where you aim your camera when you photograph lightning in Arizona, mainly near the rain shaft is generally where you’ll see the most. But when one fires behind it and it’s super close…you turn your camera and hope to get lucky again. I caught two more, this was one. A gorgeous, clear air strike out over the dry lake bed near Willcox, Arizona on July 11th, 2015.

More to come from this past summer!

North of Pampa

A beautiful supercell matures north of Pampa, Texas on April 16th, 2015. This storm was tornado warned and I happened to be on it from birth to this stage and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my storm chasing career.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/8, iso 100, 1/25th // buy print)

One of my favorite days of chasing in recent memory…with this storm north of Pampa, Texas firing before noon, and here and hour later, maturing into a gorgeous supercell. It was quickly tornado warned and one of the most beautiful storms I’ve seen.

Later in the day I would end up seeing my first ever tornado and chase until late in the evening, eventually having to turn around and head back home to Phoenix.

Is it spring yet???

Inferno

Inferno
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/10, iso 100, 0.5 sec // buy print)

I’ve made quite a few trips to the Grand Canyon this year and last, but never have I seen the color and sky like I did a week ago. I went up there of course hoping for lightning, which never materialized…but this blazing sunset was such a treat it made up for everything!

Someday I’ll get the storms I want over that place, but in the meantime…I’ll take a sunset like that!