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Castle Rock

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.

Monsoon V (4K)

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

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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
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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

Salome Strike

Yesterday my workshop ended and since some of the models were calling for huge storms in Tucson to kick out a dust storm up the 10 in the afternoon, I hit up Benson for a bit to shoot around, but it quickly became apparent the dust storm wasn’t gonna happen until possibly way late.

So I raced to Phoenix (anxious to be home after six days anyway), caught the storms rolling into town up on the 101/64th street, hung out with storm pals Jerrod Harris, John Moore and some others! Lightning wasn’t happening though, so I moved onto the west side of town, caught a nice bolt producer over the White Tanks and then took a chance further west on Salome Highway where I caught this majestic beast.

The storm was kicking out some good strikes all around me, but there wasn’t anywhere I could shoot out of the rain…so I did something I usually hate, which is to just be patient and wait for the rain to pass 😂

The moment the rain stopped, I jumped out, setup up tthe Sony at 14mm and jumped back in the truck. A huge flash happened and I swear the bolt appeared to be right in front of me, but it turned out just to be the one in the left edge of this frame. So I jumped back out of the truck cursing because I missed it…and then saw the photo and was like…oh okay…that’ll do donkey…that’ll do 🙂

A huge positive or clear air CG…looks like it landed just across the freeway, a couple hundred feet away or so. It froze the profile of a passing truck as well, almost looking like it was near hitting it. Love the highway itself lighting up from being wet with rain.

Later I ended up on I-8 in the wee hour of the morning, but that’s for another time 🙂

Close

Not gonna lie…I enjoy getting close to lightning. Yeah, I’ll hide in the truck when my cameras are shooting…but I just really enjoy the close bolts and all the detail in them.

Yesterday was fun in the afternoon down southeast of Tucson…got some nice daytime bolts, enjoyed some flash flooding near Corona de Tucson…but after that, with storms in all directions except for where I was in Tucson…I couldn’t decide. West…east…north closer to home. Ugh. Went north, it sucks, went back to Tucson…pulled over, took a shot, then it was insane rain everywhere and I was done.

But storms popped over Phoenix while I was down there and so I was hoping to get lucky on the way home. Lightning was hitting Maricopa and near Sacaton north of me, so I setup on 187 and was hoping to get a bolt striking nearby up I-10 (which is where the car light trails are in the photo). But I setup the 50mm first and looked away as my buddy Chris Frailey pulled up, then looked back and suddenly a massive CG hit what felt like right in front of me. I stumbled as I raced to the car to get the wide angle, and two more bolts slammed down in the meantime. They were landing just about 1-2 miles away.

I got the 11-24mm ready, set to 15mm, calmly focused, f/8, iso 100, set it up, hit the shutter and BOOM this happened and then that was it haha.

25 second exposure, it all hit at once (other than the distance left one) and it was magnificent. Been waiting for a monster bolt like this for awhile now.

Swallowing Tempe

I never end up in Tempe for these things, but the way Thursday’s haboob progressed more north/northeast, and how behind we were, I skipped downtown Phoenix and went to this spot where I’ve shot a ton of times for other things…in fact, some of my very first images I took about eight years ago down here.

It’s a quick spot to get to, with an iconic view of downtown Tempe with the Mill Avenue bridges. The time-lapse is pretty sweet, I got two from here, wish I could have shot two more as looking east was pretty gnarly as well.

Oh and a Southwest Airlines plane is in there trying to outrace it

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.

Vekol Sparks

A stunner of a sunset on August 23rd last year out along Vekol Road. I was flying down there, exited the freeway and of course my buddy John Sirlin beat me there by five minutes. Such an incredible sight…the colors were intense and the bolts were everywhere. This was my favorite one from this spot…we left west after it got dark and shot more lightning near Gila Bend and then up in Sun City West even later in the night. One of the top days chasing last summer!

Ocean of Fire

A stunning, out of control monsoon sunset west of Gila Bend near the Paloma Dairy

Back in 2015 west of Gila Bend, near the Paloma Dairy I saw one of the most extraordinary sunsets I’ve ever witnessed during the monsoon. Dust was blowing across the ground. The sky lit up in all shades of orange. Lightning in the distance. It was astounding.

Ended up being a beautiful time-lapse! But here’s a frame from that time-lapse, complete with a nice little lightning bolt to top off a gorgeous scene.

Monsoon IV // A 4K storm time-lapse film

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Blu-Ray discs available here: mikeolbinski.com/shop/
Music by Peter Nanasi, find his work here: https://peternanasi.bandcamp.com/
Follow me: twitter.com/mikeolbinski / facebook.com/mikeolbinskiphotography / instagram.com/mikeolbinski
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Early on this summer when I found myself down by Santa Rosa, AZ watching a gorgeous hail core fall on the stunning desert landscape, and then later that day staring at a haboob with a stacked shelf cloud above it near the border of Mexico, I had a feeling it would be a unique monsoon. It’s funny how every year is different. That’s the beauty of chasing the summer storm season out here in the desert southwest. You never know what’s going to happen or what you might see.

This year I ventured far and wide. Phoenix never saw a good dust storm all summer, but I still was able to capture a few good ones in southwest portions of the state. The cover photo for this film was halfway to Yuma standing in the middle of Interstate 8 watching an ominous wall of dust roll down the highway towards me with lightning flashing behind it. It was an incredible moment.

One bonus this summer was a few successful chases up at the Grand Canyon. Finally. A couple of gorgeous sunsets, rain dumping into the Canyon, lightning at night, Milky Way…it all worked out and I’m stoked for the footage I captured there that made it into this film. I also ventured over into New Mexico twice to chase some wonderful, plains-like structure to end the monsoon this year.

All told I covered about 13,000 miles and chased as far west as Desert Center, CA, as far east as Wilna, NM and as far north as Tonelea, AZ. And two great storms down in Organ Pipe National Monument, which is only about 10 miles from Mexico.

I loved what I saw this year. It felt so unique. I found myself submerged in cacti and desert flora a few times with stunning light and structure. Explored places in New Mexico I hadn’t seen before. Smiled at the gasps of amazement from the crowds at the Canyon when a lightning bolt would strike. Finally discovered that the Santa Rosa area is a hotbed for supercell activity. And while it didn’t make it on time-lapse, I captured a brief tornado over downtown Phoenix!

So…the film. So much effort and energy went into it. I shot over 110,000 frames of time-lapse and likely only half of it ended up in the final cut. The editing has taken me weeks and even right up until Monday evening I was still fixing and tweaking. The music is all custom, thanks to the amazing work of Peter Nanasi. PLEASE check out his website and buy his albums! I love how we work together to develop a track that seems to fit exactly with the clips I capture. I am so incredibly blessed that his work crossed my path.

A quick thank-you to the workshop guests I had this summer. You guys were amazing troopers, staying out to all hours and being around for some awesome storms. In fact, I am not sure that I would have even been on the shelf cloud in the final scene of this film if it hadn’t been for my workshop. Thank you, thank you!

As always though, what made it fun was sharing a lot of it with my kiddos. They made the trip up to the Grand Canyon with me once and it was such a blast of an experience. Asher joined me in New Mexico one day, just he and I, and I got to see his face light up when he captured his first ever lightning strike on video on his little iPad.

To my wife Jina…we’ve come a long, long way since we started this storm chasing journey years ago. It’s not been easy all the time, especially with me being on the road so much between April and October these days. But we’ve slowly figured things out and I’m unbelievably grateful to you for your support and belief in what we’re doing together.

To everyone else…thank you for your continued support of my work. I am constantly blown-away at the kindness that you show to me.

And now…I hope you enjoy this film.

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.