Posts

Timelapse of a supercell near Booker, Texas

Still prints of this storm for purchase can be found on my gallery.

Follow me on Instagram as well for storm photos and whatnot -> MikeOlbinski

It took four years but I finally got it. A rotating supercell. And not just a rotating supercell, but one with insane structure and amazing movement. I’ve been visiting the Central Plains since 2010. Usually it’s just for a day, or three, or two…but it took until the fourth attempt to actually find what I’d been looking for. And boy did we find it.

No, there was no tornado. But that’s not really what I was after. I’m from Arizona. We don’t get structure like this. Clouds that rotate and look like alien spacecraft hanging over the Earth.

We chased this storm from the wrong side (north) and it took us going through hail and torrential rains to burst through on the south side. And when we did…this monster cloud was hanging over Texas and rotating like something out of Close Encounters.

The timelapse was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 lens. It’s broken up into four parts. The first section ends because it started pouring on us. We should have been further south when we started filming but you never know how long these things will last, so I started the timelapse as soon as I could.

One thing to note early on in the first part is the way the rain is coming down on the right and actually being sucked back into the rotation. Amazing.

A few miles south is where part two picks up. And I didn’t realize how fast it was moving south, so part three is just me panning the camera to the left. During that third part you can see dust along the cornfield being pulled into the storm as well…part of the strong inflow. The final part is when the storm had started dying out and we shot lightning as it passed over us.

Between the third and fourth portions we drove through Booker, Texas where tornado sirens were going off…it was creepy as all heck. And intense.

I hope you enjoy this. Once thing I’ve learned about timelapsing is that I always wish it would be longer or wouldn’t end. I wish I had been south and been able to record this storm come at me for 45 minutes.

But I love it the way it is. I wasn’t ever certain I’d see structure like this even though it’s been such a goal of mine. But we did it.

And by we, I mean myself and my buddy Andy Hoeland, who knows his crap and got us into position so we could chase this storm. Without him along I don’t know if I get this timelapse.

Below is a still-capture from the timelapse that is being sold as a print on either metal or Fuji Pearl paper. Click on the image to go to the gallery. 

The Booker Supercell

A shelf cloud photo/timelapse over Fountain Hills

Shelf Cloud over Fountain Hills
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 200, 1/200th // buy print)

When I chase in the central plains every spring, I do so with the intent of hopefully capturing a tornado someday, but mainly to get beautiful cloud structures that we don’t see much of out here in Arizona.

And then yesterday happened. I had been out shooting snow on the Superstition Mountains in the early afternoon when my buddy Jeff started texting me about the lightning and hail raining down all over Scottsdale. In parts of that city it hailed so badly it was a crazy whiteout on freeways and even the Diamondbacks couldn’t practice this morning as their field is a sheet of ice.

I started to head back towards the cell intending to cut it off at Gilbert and the Beeline. I had a smaller storm to drive though first, but when I emerged on the other side I saw some serious dark clouds with great looking cloud bases and structures. I rush to this spot that I’ve been too before knowing it would be perfect and started timelapsing.

And while the cloud were gorgeous before, suddenly this crisp looking shelf cloud emerged and made my day. It was absolutely beautiful. My only wish is that I had been somewhere a bit nicer, but there was no time to drive anywhere else. But I didn’t care really. I was just so happy to stumble upon this thing. It even had that bluish-green tiny from all the hail falling. Amazing.

A timelapse of this storm is below…watch it full-screen so that you can have a dark background because of how dark the scene itself is.

(btw, the video quality via Vimeo seems suspect today, not sure what’s up. Usually a bit more crisp than it is.)

A storm on Picacho Road

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35 2.8, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 1/25 // buy print)

Yes, it’s Wednesday, and yes, I usually do a movie title…but I have run dry on films that work with roads and storms.  If you got one, throw it at me, but otherwise, I’m going with a more SEO friendly one!

This was one of my favorite storm images from last year. If you bought my book, you’ve seen it already, but I never posted it online. You can see up ahead a major downpour of rain and hail going on over the distant mountain. And if you look at the cloud base, you can see what appears to be a lowering or small wall cloud. I know for a fact this cell was severe warned and had rotation on it, so it very well could have been a wall cloud. You can see a timelapse I made of this storm, plus see a funnel cloud by clicking here.

I post it today in anticipation of my annual stormchasing trip to the Central Plains which will take place starting Saturday. I’m beyond excited to finally have it here and set in stone. I’m going with a couple of buddies and it would be epic fun. Matt Granz is a fantastic photographer and I can’t wait to shoot with him again. And Andy Hoeland is a few steps below a meteorologist and nothing can be better than having one of those right in the car with you.

Hoping to come back with at least a handful of awesome storm pictures and perhaps a lot more than that. We’re kind of throwing luck to the wind and praying it lands our way. There isn’t a severe event showing up yet, but we definitely know storms are in the forecast.

 

Wishing you were a wall cloud

Most of you know I went on a stormchasing trip to Nebraska earlier this year. The reason I went was to see stuff like in the picture above. Of course, when you see stuff like that in Oklahoma, Kansas, etc., you run and hide because that’s looking like a fairly monster-sized funnel dropping to the ground.

Ah, but in Phoenix…it’s rarely that. This storm had no rotation, it was just a severe thunderstorm that had the look of something much more evil. I loved it…and was kind of glad it wasn’t a funnel, because it was coming right at me and I didn’t want to move. A glorious storm, right after this it kicked up dust under the funnel area of the cloud and suddenly a wall of dust came flying at me within a few minutes.

I ran to the car before the big dust got there, went home…watched the sky over us get darker…watched my daughter play in her first rain storm, and then we all watched from the doorway as a massive microburst engulfed our neighborhood in wind, rain and spotty hail stones. We received 1.3 inches of rain at my house in about 60 minutes. That’s an insane amount of water.

A fun storm, probably will end up being the pinnacle of the monsoon season at my house and one of the best in a few years.

Stormchasing: Trees and Fences

Still running through my photos from my stormchasing trip to Nebraska on Saturday (plus photos from things other than storms, can’t wait to post a few of those later on), so wanted to dump a few more on you.

I do so love trees, especially isolated ones in the middle of nowhere. The photo above has a little baby tree, some cattle off on the right side of the frame and a giant cloud crossing the sky. It was an ominous scene.

Read more

Stormchasing: Wall clouds and inflows from Nebraska

A few more shots from my trip to Nebraska. I have to say, without having seen most of the state, the parts I did get to journey through were beautiful. Rolling hills, scattered trees…green farmlands, reservoirs, old towns, old buildings…it was just a perfect place to travel through.

The above photo is of the wall cloud I saw, which is the first in my life. You can see the lowering in the middle of the frame. I was hoping soooo badly it would just drop a tornado, but no such luck.

The one below is of the same storm a little later. I think what I’m seeing in this shot on the right inflow into the supercell. The white, smooth arcing cloud is out in front of the wall cloud on the left…so I’m pretty sure it was the inflow area.

Stormchasing: A couple of more shots from Nebraska

One of my main goals when it comes to stormchasing, whether I take a big trip to Nebraska to do it or drive around finding the monsoons here in Arizona this summer, is to take photos that are as well composed as I can make them in whatever situation I find myself.

I love looking at stormchasers’ photos from the midwest…tornadoes, lightning, wall clouds, scary stuff…but aside from a few guys that take their time when shooting (Dick McGowan, Mike Hollingshead), most of them are hurried shots without much thought of framing a nice scene.

My stormchasing experience is very lacking, so I don’t have a lot of room to talk, but I tried my best to achieve my goal when snapping these shots on Saturday. It’s not always easy I find, because sometimes the monster cloud is hovering over a highway and there is a car in the way and two other guys with cameras taking pictures of it as well!

I was a little disappointed with what I ended up seeing overall…I saw some amazing stuff, captured it as best I could, but I just failed to see that monster supercell isolated by itself with amazing structure going on.  Obviously I only had one day, so I’m not being too hard on myself, PLUS it was a heck of a fun time…I just hope to one day get another crack at shooting this stuff.

Stormchasing: Hail core dump

I had planned a 4-day stormchasing extravaganza this spring, but the way things worked out, it ended up being a one-day blitzkrieg on Saturday up to Nebraska to photograph whatever I could in a short amount of time.

Part of me wishes I lived around this weather so I could photograph it more often…and the other side of me, after seeing the craziness of the clouds and weather…am just fine living in Arizona *grin*

This is one of the shots from the day. A hail core being dumped north of Mullen, Nebraska. It had multiple tornadic signatures on it, but we never saw a funnel.

More to come!