Posts

This was 2018

One of my annual traditions around these parts is to post a nice recap of the year in photos. They range from road trips with friends,  family pics, wedding, photoshoots and of course, storm images. It felt like a different year overall, a little more subdued, with spring chasing offering slightly less excitement this time around and a couple less weddings. But wow it was a blast of a year regardless!

The year kicked off at a little shoot with a former bride and groom from Australia and their new baby girl, and then I was off on a road trip with Jay, Jason and Andrew to Death Valley and the eastern Sierras. From there it was wedding season, then storm chasing on the plains, followed by epic haboob and lightning action across Arizona during the monsoon, and finally fall weddings and family portraits. Toss in some wonderful family moments, it was a year to remember.

It also marked my fourth year as a full-time photographer and it keeps getting better and better. I still feel incredibly blessed that I get to do this everyday.

Hope you enjoy this look back at some of my favorite images, including at least a photo from almost every wedding and family session!

Monsoon V (4K)

Blu-Ray discs available here: http://mikeolbinski.com/shop/

—————

My original plan this past summer was to collect as much footage as normal, but to not put out a “Monsoon V” until 2019 when I had two years worth of crazy haboobs and lightning to make it truly spectacular. But the monsoon had different plans and put on a pretty dang good show in 2018, starting off with a decent dust storm on July 5th, then the best haboob chase I’ve ever had on July 9th, an epic green hail core on July 11th and finally another fantastic dust storm day on August 2nd.

Sprinkled in there…more dust storm, some at night, spectacular lightning, and tons of microbursts and stormy clouds, plus a few rotating supercells to put some icing on the cake. It was one of the best monsoon seasons I’ve chased, so I couldn’t help but get to work on Monsoon V a few weeks ago.

I love doing these films so much. So much hard work for months on end goes into capturing them. Almost 15,000 miles this summer across Arizona. 85,000+ frames with plenty more deleted. A total of 32 days out there chasing over three months. Sleep deprivation, tons of gas money, crappy food and yes, sometimes missing storms I wish I had been on.

But the highs were amazing. Chasing with my kiddos…sharing the July 9th haboob bonanza with Lyla and Eli…or an all-night chase with my youngest, Asher. They were so awesome to have along. Two workshops with five fantastic people. Both were so fun and the storms we saw were just wonderful.  I feel so blessed to teach people and show the monsoon off to those who have never seen it before.

As always is the case…this year, including tornado season, I chased the most I ever have. Which means more time away from home. And Jina…my incredible wife…she’s so supportive of my passion and this business. Taking care of the kids and running everything at home during those months…I am forever amazed at how she always has my back, even during the times when it’s too hard and she’d rather not. I can’t thank her enough for allowing me to chase my dreams.

I do want to thank all of you watching this…over the years, so many people have seen the films, left kind words, purchased DVDs, prints and even books. I don’t know how many people asked me this year about when Monsoon V was coming out, and I have to say…it was extremely motivating. So thank you for the support and kind words of encouragement and excitement about these storm movies…I can honestly say you are a huge reason why I keep making them!

Technical Details:
Music: Avalon and Legend by Ryan Taubert (through TheMusicbed.com, sign-up for licensing here: http://share.mscbd.fm/mikeolbinski)

Everything shot with two Canon 5DSRs and various Canon lenses. Might be a couple lightning sequences with the Sony A7R3

Processed in Lightroom, LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro.

2018 Storm Time-lapse Trailer!

Song licensed through the Musicbed, license your own songs here: share.mscbd.fm/mikeolbinski

Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/mikeolbinski / Instagram: MikeOlbinki and Facebook: facebook.com/mikeolbinskiphotography
————————–

I probably chased more days in 2018 than ever before. Beginning on April 28th out in eastern Colorado that began a busy spring season on the plains, and then with the monsoon kicking off in late June. About five straight months of chasing. Near 40k miles or more driven. Tens of thousands of time-lapse frames taken.

This year I went with the idea of not releasing a spring chase film like I have in the past…with Pursuit, Vorticity, The Chase…etc. 2018 was a tough season in general, but I also wanted to make my next film as spectacular as possible, so I decided to stockpile this year, chase next spring and then come out with Vorticity 2, which will hopefully be chock full of the most amazing stuff I’ve ever shot. I know many people told me they were looking forward to seeing what I shot this year, but you might have to wait a bit…and I appreciate your patience!

I will likely begin work on my next Monsoon film here shortly as it was actually a pretty good season and may warrant being Monsoon V, even though I was going to do the same thing and wait until 2019 to share the next in the monsoon series. That may still change, but as of right now, look for it in the coming months!

So with that being said…I hope you enjoy this short trailer that highlights some of my favorite clips from 2018. Just a taste of the good stuff and a preview of upcoming films.

Technical details:
Everything shot with two Canon 5DSRs and various Canon lenses. One night lightning clip shot with a Sony A7R3.

Processed in Lightroom, LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro.

Song – ‘One Precious Moment’ by Ryan Taubert

Breathe

Blu-Ray discs available here: mikeolbinski.com/shop/
Follow me: twitter.com/mikeolbinski / facebook.com/mikeolbinskiphotography / instagram.com/mikeolbinski
Music: Breathe by Ex Makina licensed through the Music Bed
——-

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.

Haboob over Organ Pipe

I always knew southern Arizona near the border gets interesting weather…I think I saw a brief landspout down south of Three Points last year, it seems like supercells occur more that way as well, so with some shear in place yesterday and models hinting at storms popping in that vicinity, I waited for a few hours until things started going. Wow once they got going, they exploded. Big hail cores, supercell structure, severe warnings, pea-sized hail hitting the truck. One of my favorite chases here in AZ, culminating in this epic haboob with a stacked shelf cloud rolling over the stunning landscape of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

This is a 9-image panorama just to get the entire structure of thing thing in one frame. I have a couple time-lapses I’ll be working on later which should be pretty awesome…definitely up there with my favorites of all-time out here!
And rad to meet up with my buddy Trey Greenwood down there for this chase, we were pretty stoked to see this yesterday…although I have a feeling this kind of thing may happen down there more than we realize!

Monsoon II

Blu-Ray discs available here.
Song by Kerry Muzzy: “Palladio Rebuilt” find it on iTunes (please consider supporting Kerry by purchasing the single or an album!)
Follow me: twitter.com/mikeolbinski / facebook.com/mikeolbinskiphotography / instagram.com/mikeolbinski


I’ve been chasing the monsoon in Arizona for about 6-7 years now. This summer was different though. Back in late July, I was wondering why it felt like I was out chasing more than ever before. And then I remembered. I had a job last summer. This year I didn’t. I went full-time photography in November of 2014 and haven’t looked back.

I was free to roam and had virtually no limitations.  I even had multiple chases where I never actually wend to bed, but instead chased all night. I took the kids to New Mexico at one point early in the season.

Last year I counted roughly 31 total days that I chased a storm during the monsoon. This summer: 48. Yikes.

17,000 miles driven, which was about 3,000 more than last year. Perhaps the biggest difference this year was shooting nearly 60,000 more time-lapse frames than I did in 2014. 105,000 total. And what sticks out to me even more than any of the other numbers above, is that only 55,000 of those 105,000 frames made it into Monsoon II.

What that means is I was able to stuff this new film with only of the best of the best. We missed out on some of the huge dust storms like I’ve captured in years past, but overall, I think this represents some of the best weather I’ve ever photographed in Arizona. There are stunning shelf clouds, gorgeous rain shafts, lots of blowing dust, tons of lightning, and even multiple mini-supercells/mesocyclones. The brief meso over Cottonwood at the 3:38 mark is one of my all-time favorites.

I can’t talk much more about the film without addressing the music real quick. The song is called Palladio (Rebuilt) and it’s once again by the amazing Kerry Muzzey who donated it to me for Monsoon II. He also let me use another song of his for my previous film, The Chase and I’m beyond grateful for his generosity. I mean, how do you thank someone enough for that? Click here to find the song on iTunes and please support his work! I’ve said it a million times…the music is at least 50% of these movies I make. Kerry’s art helps bring my films to life. Thank you my friend!

A few other words of thanks. My good friend and plains chase buddy, Andy Hoeland…always helps with forecasting and things he sees that I might miss. Mike Leuthold…his forecasting models at UofA have been hugely beneficial and it’s been fun to get to know him better this summer! Jeff Beamish in Tucson for helping me out when I’m down there! All the National Weather Service offices here in Arizona, especially Phoenix…thanks for all the hard work you do, even though it’s not always appreciated. You get bashed when you are wrong, and don’t get enough credit when you are right.  And to my buddy Jay Worlsey…he helped me loop a 6:15 song into an 8:30 song. Thanks for showing me the way my friend!

Above everyone else though…my wife Jina. I thank her every time I make a film because without her this would be impossible. Now she’s working part-time, so  when she comes home and I’m gone, and she has the kids to take care of as well…unless they happen to be with me that day. And this summer I was gone even more and she took it all in stride. There is nothing like having someone behind you, pulling for you, supporting you and being your biggest fan. Thank you Jina!

When I’m out there capturing footage for these films, I’m constantly thinking about the story I want to tell. For example, I wanted a lot of erupting, towering cumulus at the beginning to launch into the meatier clips. I started laying out the film back in mid-August. Certain clips I already knew would be in certain places in relation to the ups and downs of the song itself. As the season wore on, I gathered more and more clips and began to lay out the entire film. I’d remove clips when I got something better. There was exhausting editing, re-editing, looping music, reluctantly dropping clips that didn’t work or were unfixable and watching it over, and over and over, to make sure I was telling the story I wanted to tell.

At one point, about halfway through…I was telling Jina that I have a lot of great stuff, but still haven’t shot the final scene yet. I had no idea what it would be, but I knew I didn’t have it. And then that very night (or maybe the next day)…I was out west of Tonopah and I knew on the way home that the monsoon had finally delivered my ending.

That is what is so amazing about doing this. You hit the road with zero idea about what you’re going to see over the course of a summer. You might imagine scenarios or have ideas, but they get blown out of the water by reality. And that’s what I love about it.

My hope is that you can see and feel that love in this film. The beauty of the monsoon in Arizona. This is where I’m from and this is home.

 

 

A wall of dust hits Casa Grande

Before my tire went flat from some unseen predator buried in the Arizona desert, I timelapsed this wall of dust as it crossed Interstate 8 and rolled into Casa Grande. It also came up Interstate 10 behind me and spread into Phoenix.

Another year of the haboob out in Arizona…crazy how many of these storms we’ve had.

More severe weather on tap for today, I’m hitting the road right now.

Tower of Dust

This was definitely one of the craziest sights I’ve witnessed stormchasing in Arizona. This was shot on May 9th, 2012, along Queen Creek road just east of Interstate 10.  The wall of dust had hit me and was moving by for about 10 minutes when I looked out the window and saw this bit of clearing and an insane view straight up to some epic clouds.

It didn’t last too long, another wave of thick dust was a few minutes away, but for a second the sky appeared to show a giant dust tower reaching for clouds. Without the color, it almost looked like a bomb or something, with a giant mushroom cloud at the top.

If you missed the timelapse from yesterday, check it out here.

Please click on the photo to view full size/and so it fits your screen!

Stormchasing Arizona 2011 is ready for Pre-Order!

Stormchasing Arizona

I’ve been a writer of sorts for a long time now. Started with a three-year or so stint doing sports writing, then some entertainment jabbering, a lot of personal bits and of course, stories to go along with the work I’m doing in photography. But during all that time, if I ever thought about publishing a book, it was always with the idea of writing some kind of science fiction novel or something like that. In fact, I actually wrote a few chapters.

Yet here I am on volume two of Stormchasing Arizona and that sci-fi story sits waiting for me to re-visit it someday.

The book was finished last Friday, November 4th and now is available for Pre-Order! I’m so totally stoked about this year’s edition, which is filled with over 100 images and 25 more pages than last year’s.

You can see a preview of the book, more details on what’s inside and the way to pre-order by clicking right here or the My Book link at the top of this page!

Thanks so much to everyone involved with making this a possibility!