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Rapid City

Rapid City

June 1st, 2015…my buddy James Langford told me if I didn’t punch the core of this storm I’d regret it forever. And he was right. Once I popped out the other side and saw this, my mind was blown.

Been wanting to do a black & white version of this storm, so here you go! Still one of the craziest supercell structures I’ve personally seen.

Rapid City IV

A decaying supercell hovers over the Rapid City, South Dakota area, dropping rain and gorgeous lightning bolts.

A decaying supercell hovers over the Rapid City, South Dakota area, dropping rain and gorgeous lightning bolts.

This dying storm over Rapid City on June 1st, 2015 was so amazing…so many bolts came out of it, I was in total heaven. This is the fourth image from this spot that I’ve shared, and I still have a couple more strikes that I might edit at some point!

But it just has me itching to do some chasing…cannot wait to get out there!

Haven’t posted much in the past week, been on a little vacation with the wife enjoying a much needed break from the kiddos and work. Back now though and ready for things to get crazy again!

Rapid City III

Another lightning bolt from that beautiful supercell on June 1st over Rapid City, South Dakota. The storm was dying out at this stage, but the lightning was incredible, especially viewing it from up high. So thankful again to my buddy James Langford for guiding me up to the top via cell phone.

Another lightning bolt from that beautiful supercell on June 1st over Rapid City, South Dakota. The storm was dying out at this stage, but the lightning was incredible, especially viewing it from up high. So thankful again to my buddy James Langford for guiding me up to the top via cell phone.

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The Chase


Watch the video in 4K over on YouTube!

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.

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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!


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20150601 Rapid City 01-0592-Edit

The big Stormchasing Trip of 2011

It’s Monday morning and if you are reading this, it’s likely I just posted it before boarding a plane for Denver, Colorado as I am off on my 2nd Annual Stormchasing super-duper adventure.

This could lead to two things: 1) I am way too busy to post any blogs until maybe Friday and perhaps not even then…or 2) I will see some amazing stuff and will be unable to control myself and HAVE to post something.

Last year I did this for basically a single day. Flew into Denver at night, drove to Nebraska, crashed at some hotel and then chased that late afternoon, stayed over night and drove back to Denver and flew home. All told, it was around 900 miles driven and no tornadoes or supercells that I really wanted to see.

THIS year…I am planning on three days chasing.  Land in Denver again, but at 8:45am this time. Driving to the Nebraska-South Dakota border and chasing some big storms this afternoon. I’ll then start heading south to the plain states of Kansas and Oklahoma. Not sure how Tuesday looks yet, so I’m hoping to get lucky along the way. That night I may meet-up with an awesome stormchasing photographer named Shane Kirk and shoot some lightning with him. The next day is supposed to be a huge outbreak of severe weather all the way from north Texas to Kansas. That’s the money day. Then I come home first thing Thursday morning.

I can’t even begin to explain my excitement for this. I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night. My brain wouldn’t shut off. I’m writing this blog post Sunday evening and I’m curious how this night is going to go (update: I slept).

The miles I’ll rack up on this trip is probably going to be mind-boggling.

Needless to say, I’m hoping to get a lot of great shots this trip. It’s so unpredictable though…you have to get lucky and be in the right place at the right time. I’m all geared up…two camera bodies, tripod, a lightning trigger, two shutter releases, Flip HD camera, lenses, laptop, GPS, AC converter and weather band radio.

The unique thing about a trip like this…I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have a general idea of where I’ll be today, but that could change. I could end up anywhere. I could see anything. Or nothing.

It’s just so awesome:)

Oh yeah…the image above was shot during last year’s trip and I’ve posted it before. I love the photo, but it’s a bit overprocessed for my current tastes. The fact is…with that amazing backlit-sunset happening, it would have been very, very tough to shoot this scene without HDR.  So much dynamic range.

So wish me luck…still haven’t seen an actual tornado in person, so I hope to end that this trip. And if I do, my buddy Bryan Cox is going to regret not going for the rest of his life!