September 1st, the night that keeps on giving haha…so many fun lightning shots from that chase, here’s one looking towards the dry lake bed near Willcox from near the Kansas Settlement. I got this on wide angle which I would have preferred, but it was set to ISO 2000 for time-lapse and the bolt just blew the crap out of the shot. This was fun despite wishing I had a tad more foreground.
Never edited this guy back from September 2017 up at the Grand Canyon…mostly because of a big water spot, but I cropped it out and decided it was worth posting! This was the end of a wonderful 24 hours up at the Canyon, my best time up there in six years of trying. The day before there was lightning in the afternoon, then sunset and finally later at night right out over the ditch. I slept in the truck knowing more storms were set for the next day and sure enough, severe cells with hail exploded and moved across the Canyon during the late morning, capping off a fantastic trip.
August 14th I was down in Tucson finishing up my second Monsoon Workshop of the summer, and after we broke camp around 11am, I hit Benson first and captured some daytime bolts near there, and then raced up to Phoenix for a nice line of storms moving down off the Mogollon Rim.
As the sun went down, the storms moved through town and I decided to skip all the buildings and blast to the west side to get in front of the outflow boundary. Sure enough, as I got here west of Buckeye, storms exploded over the White Tanks and put on quite a shot of bolts. Love this one, 30-second exposure with a bolt hitting on the east side and then one on the west side near Sun Valley Parkway.
Crazy enough, ended up back on I-8 east of Gila Bend around 1:30am still shooting. What a wild night. Miss it.
September 1st was a slow developing day…tons of shear down in southeastern AZ, but once I got there, storms looked meh and lightning was hard to come by…meanwhile northern Arizona was a structure-fest of course!
But eventually, patience paid off and storms rapidly intensified in the later afternoon…I watched a couple of downbursts happen and move my way, and finally the lightning got awesome. From here on out, the rest of the day was pure gold…so much lightning and fun storms.
This was east of Sunizona along Highway 181 where it’s just pretty and grassy fields are everywhere.
July 17th was an awesome afternoon of chasing in southern Arizona with supercells, severe storms and some nice structure. As night hit, the storms intensified and a couple strong ones moved west towards Ajo. This spot is west of Maish Vaya just after getting out of the mountains and we had this awesome view east as it kept racing towards us.
This shot immediately reminded me of Stranger Things…the big Shadow Monster crawling over town in the Upside Down 🙂
October 1st was my final chase of the monsoon this year and it was a wonderful way to bookend a spectacular season. This image was taken along the AZ/NM border late in the day. A low-topped supercell with a wall cloud spinning to the north as it slowly died out. This is basically the closing image from the year for me, although I still have lots to edit. After this storm faded, I turned and headed for home and that was all she wrote.
Didn’t even know the time-lapse caught a lightning bolt until weeks later, which was a pleasant surprise!
A favorite image of mine from this past summer that I’ve been saving for whatever reasons, but figured I’d post it finally. Sometimes you like an image so much you are afraid to post it thinking others wont feel the same…silly, but it’s real.
Captured this about 3 miles from the Mexico board in the Coronado National Forest west of Nogales, while on a workshop with Paula and Karen. It was quite the show and shocking to us that this storm that seems to be dropping rain on the other side of the mountains, was putting down lightning strikes on OUR side. That hill got hit at least two other times and it was quite amazing to see from up so high.
This area seems so non-Arizona, it was almost like we WERE in another country for a little bit. Green mountains that definitely have more of a central America look to them. Such a gorgeous part of the state.
May 18th was a big storm day across western and southwestern Kansas…but we sat in one spot along an outflow boundary waiting hours for initiation and missed all kinds of storms going on, even a beast in SE Colorado…but finally near Park, KS a storm went up and we punched through the south side of it. At first it seemed to be headed north, but then it pulled off a nifty right turn as it latched on the boundary and headed into Quinter, which is where this shot was taken.
Not your typical stacked plates structure for a supercell, but it was stunning nonetheless and at one point seemed to have a funnel halfway to the ground. I never knew I caught a lightning bolt until scrolling through the time-lapse this morning! Lovely surprise!
Other than Tescott, my favorite day chasing last spring was May 23rd in western Nebraska. Started off frustrated when we found out we had missed a tornado near Roswell, NM after being there just the day before…but then as the day got late, our supercell finally intensified and put on a gorgeous display of lightning and sunset colors amongst the sandhills. This was west of Tryon…with a little special appearance from Brandon Ivey and his tour group 🙂
Lovely to see the faces on Sandra Herber and Ajit Menon during this chase…finally got on something amazing on our last chase day!
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!
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.