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This was 2018

One of my annual traditions around these parts is to post a nice recap of the year in photos. They range from road trips with friends,  family pics, wedding, photoshoots and of course, storm images. It felt like a different year overall, a little more subdued, with spring chasing offering slightly less excitement this time around and a couple less weddings. But wow it was a blast of a year regardless!

The year kicked off at a little shoot with a former bride and groom from Australia and their new baby girl, and then I was off on a road trip with Jay, Jason and Andrew to Death Valley and the eastern Sierras. From there it was wedding season, then storm chasing on the plains, followed by epic haboob and lightning action across Arizona during the monsoon, and finally fall weddings and family portraits. Toss in some wonderful family moments, it was a year to remember.

It also marked my fourth year as a full-time photographer and it keeps getting better and better. I still feel incredibly blessed that I get to do this everyday.

Hope you enjoy this look back at some of my favorite images, including at least a photo from almost every wedding and family session!

Reaching Out

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!

2018 Storm Time-lapse Trailer!

Song licensed through the Musicbed, license your own songs here: share.mscbd.fm/mikeolbinski

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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

The Sandhills

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.

Sun Devil

A new image from this past August 25th in southern AZ, looking out over Interstate 10 from the Marsh Station overpass. This storm was one of the highlights of the 2017 monsoon. Sat here for over an hour, with not much rain, enjoying a spectacular view of the sunset with lightning between us. Can’t ask for much better than that!

Breathe

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Music: Breathe by Ex Makina licensed through the Music Bed
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The moment I heard the opening thump of bass…I knew I would be using this song for my film. But then those haunting vocals hit my ears…and blew my mind. It was like a punch deep in my soul. It’s hard to explain that feeling when you first hear a song and you immediately fall in love with it. Almost like you’ve known it all along.

I hadn’t even planned to start working on this film yet, but I was so inspired that I furiously began to lay down time-lapse clips. I couldn’t stop pouring over it. It was last September and I was supposed to be working on Monsoon IV, but I forgot all about it once I heard Ex Makina’s “Breathe.” It almost felt like it was made for a black and white storm film.

About halfway through editing, I knew the song title would be my film title as well. It was so perfect I couldn’t believe it. Sometimes for me…when I’m chasing or watching an amazing storm…I’ll realize I haven’t taken a breath in awhile. Never really thought of it until I heard this song.

I love being inspired by other artists. I love soundtracks. I can’t imagine the movie Interstellar without that powerful pipe organ soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. Music is so important to what I do and I’m so incredibly thankful to husband/wife duo Iain and Rebecca Campbell for writing this amazing song. Thanks to the MusicBed as well for having such fantastic musicians and artists.

In early 2017, I put together a film called Pulse that was my first ever black and white time-lapse movie. It was so different and fun, I wanted to do a follow-up this year before the next chase season begins. Breathe is made up solely of storm clips from 2017…either from the spring across the central plains or from the monsoon here in the southwest. Some are favorites, some are just ones I knew would be amazing in monochrome and others I used because they fit the music so well.  I also went with a wider aspect ratio on these films to give it more of a cinematic feel.

This is also the first film I’ve ever done in full 8K resolution. I’m super excited about that. You may not be able to watch it in that resolution, but it’s there if you can. Otherwise, 4K is a must if you can!

I truly hope you enjoy this. For me, I needed something to pass the time and bridge the next few months as I wait for supercells to return to the plains. But honestly, I truly love putting these together. Thanks for all your support in the past and feel free to share!

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.

This was 2017

I usually get this blog post out before the end of the year, but aside from two weddings I had to shoot in the last three days of 2017, I took some much needed time off. So January 1st it is! It was a crazy year…the busiest one for me so far in many ways. Mostly on the storm chasing front. I drove more than ever before…35,000 miles during the spring, about 14,000 during the summer. Long days on the road and many, many days away from my family. Two workshops during the summer down in Tucson. It was incredibly rewarding, but the grind was wearing. I welcomed the offseason big time.

Being able to switch gears from storms to portraits I fully believe helps keep me balanced. I photographed 32 weddings and did around 52 other photoshoots. I met some insanely awesome people this year, traveled to cool locations and captured some super fun events.

This blog post is in chronological order. I released four time-lapse films this year which are scattered about in the midst of waaay too many photos below. But I took out so many ones I loved out already, I couldn’t cut anymore. These posts are also just for me personally, to be able to look back and quickly remember what happened in a year.

Highlights for me are of course the four films, but a road trip through Oregon with my buddies early in the year, a trip to California Adventures with the family, adding our pup Winnie to the mix, having Anderson Cooper walk in to a wedding reception, a rainy shoot in Sedona, an Antelope Canyon elopement, the McLean tornado, two plains storm-chasing tours, incredible mammatus and asperitas sunsets, visiting Montana twice, a trip to Holland with Jina, taking Lyla and Eli along for a late June chase in Colorado, haboobs in southwestern AZ, a landspout tornado in downtown Phoenix, lightning at the Grand Canyon (FINALLY), shooting a wedding in a monsoon downpour, photographing a wedding where Lyla was the flower girl, seeing families I love for late year Christmas photos, taking some last images of my late Grandma and finally, seeing an epic rocket launch.

Thank you all so much for your support during the year, it means so much to me! I hope you enjoy this look back at 2017!