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!
Song licensed through the Musicbed, license your own songs here: share.mscbd.fm/mikeolbinski
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.
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
Probably my favorite day chasing this spring was May 23rd, especially once the storms really got going west of Ogallala, Nebraska. We chased it through Arthur and east, this was one of the final shots of the night, near Tryon after the sun had gone down. The structure was insane. The Sandhills are a tough area but we had good luck this day, and I ran up to a hilltop overlooking the western horizon and got a time-lapse of this gorgeous supercell racing towards us in the dark. Such a wonderful landscape with the grass and sand intermixed, it really made this a fun photo. The colors were a bit tough to nail down, but this is pretty much what it looked like out of camera, but with added contrast, etc.
It would have some more crazy structure after this as well, and it was also beautiful beforehand, especially at sunset with lightning everywhere, but this was a favorite image from my chasing this spring.
On May 23rd, after time-lapsing the supercell south of Arthur as it neared highway 61, we raced north to get back ahead. But after five miles or so, the rain stopped momentarily and I looked back to see something in my rear-viewer mirror that made me slam on the brakes.
We jumped out of the truck to one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen storm chasing in my career. Only way I can describe this is a supercell with a hail core microburst that seems to happen in the span of five minutes or less. It was crashing so fast and the rain was rapidly approaching from the west, that I had no ability to really time-lapse it.
But it didn’t matter…we stood there in utter amazement…made me once again realize how much I love doing this and why.
Those days when you try and try and try to see a supercell but nothing goes up near you and so you try to salvage the day by at least getting a nice shelf cloud in western Nebraska.
June 2nd, 2015…standing here right next to my buddy Matt Grans and his friend Nancee Rostad…this was a perfect moment with zero traffic on the road and a nice little shelf cloud crossing in front of us. Rare to get a time-lapse of something like this from right in the middle of a road and no cars come by…sometimes you risk it and hope for the best!
The music in this film was composed by Kerry Muzzey and is a track called The Secret History from the album The Architect. Please consider purchasing this album over on iTunes! I am forever his Kerry’s debt for his kindness and generosity in donating this song for my film. I do not have enough words to thank him!
If you’d like to purchase a digital download of the film for your iPhone or iPad, see below! You can find prints from this chase and also my entire storm collection by visiting my gallery.
This past spring I spent more time chasing storms on the plains than ever before. The most I had spent prior to this was seven total days and that was last year. What I came away with from that short time made me realize that if I could double that…the stuff I could capture would be amazing. Of course I long to be out there for a month or longer, but when you live in Phoenix and have a wife and three kids…you have to be realistic.
I turned 40 years old this year and I told my wife all I wanted was 10 days chasing on the plains. She loves me though and it ended up being 14. Two days in April and then 12 straight days from May 23rd – June 3rd. Those 12 days were absolutely incredible. I’m friends with other chasers via social media, met them on the side of roads while chasing, even grabbed dinner together…but never have I felt more of a part of the chaser community than being out there for almost two weeks. Living the life…seeing the same amazing chasers over and over…it was overwhelming to me. I missed my family, it was hard at times, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.
Both chases originated from where I live in Arizona. In April I drove out all night to Colorado, slept maybe an hour, chased all day, got a good night’s sleep, chased the next day in the Texas Panhandle and drove home that same night, stopping only for a quick nap in New Mexico. The second chase was the same. Left Phoenix late on the evening of May 22nd, never really slept and the chase was on the next day. All in all I drove well over 12,000 miles over the course of those two weeks, visited 10 total states (New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota) and shot over 45,000 frames of footage for this film.
I have many people to thank. Pat O’Brien for being my first private tour attendee this spring. Mike Mezuel II for one very big tip on a spot above Rapid City, SD. To James Langford who not only guided me to that spot over the phone, but “now-casted” for me many, many times. I may have missed out on four crucial clips in this film if it wasn’t for him suggesting I punch the core in South Dakota. Thank you sir. And to my pal Andy Hoeland…who was with me for over a week of my time out there, driving, looking at forecasts, talking to weather experts and always helping us have a great target for that day. He’s become my chase partner for most of these big plains trips and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Also thanks to Cinetics for sending me their Axis 360 to play with. I used it one time in this film and wish I had used it more. I love that scene.
Finally…above everyone else, of course…is my wife. To let me go for that long, to never complain, to never discourage me…but to only believe in me…how could I be so lucky to deserve a wife like that? We have three kids and that’s tough on a parent to have her husband away that long. It will never cease to amaze me that I’d never, ever be here, doing this, if it wasn’t for her support and encouragement.
Technical details…everything was shot on Canon 5D3’s, along with an array of Rokinon lenses. I got sick of lens-twisting (mostly sick of FORGETTING to lens twist) so I mainly used those manual lenses on this trip. Everything was processed using LR Timelapse, Lightroom, After Effects and Premiere Pro.
Was everything perfect? Almost. Dust and dried water spots are the bane of a time-lapser’s existence. Even when I thought I cleaned my sensors, I missed something or didn’t do a good enough job. Or maybe a lens was the problem when I was focused on the sensors. I cannot stress enough the importance of getting things right IN-CAMERA. Trying to fix that stuff in post is tedious and aggravating. And sometimes it’s very hard to fix it at all.
Other than that issue, I’m in absolute love with this film. The stuff I saw rivaled anything I’ve ever seen on the plains minus that insane Booker supercell in 2013. We saw four tornadoes (one of them appears in a deleted scene at the very end of the film), countless supercells, gorgeous shelf clouds, stunning mammatus and some awesome lightning shows. The song..well, the song for this film blew my mind. I loved it when I heard it, but then seeing how everything started coming together on the timeline, the pace, the slow build-up, the huge ending…I’ve said it before, but the song is 50% of the film. Thank you again Kerry for everything!
All this movie does it fuel me to want to do better next year and this summer in Arizona. Stay tuned for Monsoon II and for The Chase II next spring!
I sincerely hope you enjoy and share this film around. Thank you for watching and if you have ANY questions, please ask in the comments below or visit my website and contact me through that!
If you’d like a digital download, please click the Buy Now button below and BE SURE to include your correct email address. You’ll get a link soon after!
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 8 sec // buy print)
A long, lonely highway of roughly 70 miles separates Merriman and Hyannis in western Nebraska. When you are low on gas, have no internet access and are praying that Hyannis has a working gas station, you don’t really want to stop too much. But when you see something like this, you have to. A huge MCS had come through here, leaving behind it wet roads and a gorgeous sky filled with mammatus clouds. A bit of lightning snakes around on the left side of the storm.
Was a great way to end the day…and yes, some kind strangers stopped by and confirmed a gas station was up ahead!
(To view this video in HD, click right here to go to Vimeo…a lot better quality.
I had a different post set for today, but the clouds this morning and the humid-ish area has me excited for the monsoon season here in Arizona which could make an appearance as early as tomorrow!
I finally finished working on the video from my stormchasing trip back on May 9-11. Most of the video I shot was kind of boring since the a lot of the trip turned out to be a bust, but I put together the best clips I had. I think you’ll enjoy the lightning show the most…the second clip is pretty incredible in terms of the non-stop nature of the flashes. I apologize for my silly voiceovers!
All the video was shot with the 5D Mark II and I have to say, it was awesome. Next year when I do this though, I’ll bring along a 70-200mm. Being able to zoom around like that would have been nice, especially for some of the distant lightning.
Below are two images I captured along the way. The first one has a radio/cell/TV (whatever) antenna in it and I’ve always wanted to get a good lightning shot with one of these in the frame. Not the best lightning, but still fun!
The second one was shot after the final lightning clip in the video. As I’ve said before, I love up-close lightning that fills the frame, but there is something cool about seeing the entire cloud from far away.