Posts

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.

Follow me:  Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Periscope


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!


Digital Download

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!

20150601 Rapid City 01-0592-Edit

The End

Driving through an abandoned town and then turning the corner to see this scene was truly one I'll never forget. We had just witnessed the Dora tornado 30 minutes before, and so we blasted towards the storm in hopes of seeing another one. This was just as good. The sun igniting the rain into a horizon of orange, the blue hail core in the supercell and lightning. It was incredible to witness. I know if I returned to this spot during the day, it would seem normal and boring. But on this night, with the wind, the colors...the lightning...it felt like we were watching the end of the world or something.
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm,. iso 100, f/8.0, 5 sec // buy print)

If you are interested in a print, you can click the link above and use coupon code “chase2015” for 25% off!

I’m proud of this one…not just the shot itself, but just the fact that we were even here to witness it. It took us hours to make our way southeast through a southeast moving line of storms. It was brutal. Hail, rain, traffic in Clovis, NM…but somehow, someway we got out in front of this thing.

Driving through an abandoned town and then turning the corner to see this scene was truly one I’ll never forget. We had just witnessed the Dora tornado 30 minutes before, and so we blasted towards the storm in hopes of seeing another one. This was just as good. The sun igniting the rain into a horizon of orange, the blue hail core in the supercell and lightning. It was incredible to witness. I know if I returned to this spot during the day, it would seem normal and boring. But on this night, with the wind, the colors…the lightning…it felt like we were watching the end of the world or something.

Also I have 477 frames of this storm on time-lapse! Can’t wait to share it all!

From May 29th near Bledsoe, TX.

Angry

Angry
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, iso 100, f/8.0, 1/6th sec // buy print)

April 16th turned out pretty amazing across the Texas Panhandle…such a long, six-hour chase and so many views of different supercells. This was the one that produced a tornado earlier near Groom. At this point the radar velocity was intense right up ahead along this road. This was as close as I wanted to get because of the rain and the intensity of the rotation. You can see how low the clouds are in there, how angry this storm looks. The blue color in the clouds is hail.

More to come from this day!

The Alanreed Supercell

Alanreed Supercell
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 100, f/8, 1/40th // buy print)

Storm chasing can be frustrating and fruitless. Or it can be magnificent and incredibly rewarding. On April 16th of this year, I was able to chase solid structure for almost six hours. So many time-lapses and photos. It was just one of those days that keeps you coming back for more.

This storm earlier spawned a brief tornado near Groom, Texas. It moved to the east/northeast across the rolling farmlands…I caught up to it once again here just north of Alanreed. The hail core and structure was gorgeous. After the clouds nearly passed over me, I got back south and blasted east to chase it again.

More to come!

The Panhandle

The Panhandle
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, iso 400, f/5.6, 1/250th, handheld 9-image stitch // buy print)

Last week Tuesday I jumped in my truck and drove all the way to Colorado and the plains to chase storms for two days. This was the second day in the Texas panhandle. I watched this supercell start off as simple towering cumulus and two hours later it became this beast hovering over the farmlands northwest of Pampa.

Three hours prior, I had been near this spot, talking on my live stream about how this part of Texas was so beautiful, I was praying I could capture an amazing supercell just hanging over these farmlands. And then suddenly storms fired and I didn’t move but a few miles over the course of several hours. The storm intensified and became a supercell in short order, and then evolved in so many ways. This was one of my favorite views of the entire day. Wide open, descending prairie…and even a little windmill out there. Thursday turned out more incredible than I could have hoped for when I woke up that morning, I can’t wait to share more!

 

A sunset south of Sheffield, Texas

Sunset south of Sheffield
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8, 16mm, f/5.0, iso 200, 1/125th // buy print)

Sometimes the light and the sky after a storm passes is just as good as the storm itself. This was south of Sheffield, Texas, after we photographed and timelapsed a bunch of gorgeous shelf clouds and hail cores. These clouds were moving fast overhead and the light from the setting sun created this moody sky.

I still love being in the middle of nowhere, having a beautiful sky like this and walking out onto a road to snap a photo. It’s something about the silence of no other cars, city sounds or anything else. Just a rumble of thunder and the snap of a camera.

Can’t wait to get back to storm chasing next week! The monsoon is almost back.

Near Sheffield, Texas

Near Sheffield
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, f/8, iso 100, 1/30th // buy print)

This past Wednesday through Sunday I chased storms across the southern plains with two amazing guys…Andy Hoeland and Matt Granz. This was by far my longest trip out there, so the amount of images and timelapses I shot were kind of astounding. I ended up at home with over 450gb worth of images. I’m barely done organizing them, but had to edit a few photos to post this week.

I’ll be coming out with a timelapse film from my two plains trips this spring…and I cannot lie, I got a lot of good stuff. Including this shot. This was actually a frame from a timelapse captured southwest of Sheffield, Texas this past Saturday.

Normally fences and stuff don’t excite me in a photo, but this one was kinda picturesque I have to say and I think it added to the composition.

Lots, lots and lots more to come in the coming weeks and months.

Over Booker, Texas

Over Booker
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, iso 800, f/8.0, 1/6 // buy print)

The Booker Supercell was undoubtedly ranked either 1 or 2 in my experiences as a storm chaser. My only wish is that we had gotten there a few moments earlier, but I’m pretty sure we saw the storm at it’s best right before it started dying out. Here’s a look at the storm as it was losing strength, finally passing over the town of Booker, Texas. Earlier in the chase we had been north of Booker, watching the storm move to the southeast…and then we raced south into town and blasted east to stay ahead.

This was one of the final moments of the storm before the sun was completely down and dark overtook us.

First view of the Booker, Texas supercell

First view of the Booker Supercell
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 500, f/8, 1/6th, blended image // buy print)

I’ve told the story of the Booker Supercell before quite a few times in various places, but it’s one I never get tired of telling. It was such a pinnacle moment for me in my life, or at least, as a storm chaser…that I wont soon forget the feeling of seeing it for the first time.

My buddy Andy and I had landed in Denver earlier than morning and drove towards the CO/KS/OK border meetups. I made the first mistake of going northeast instead of south when we got into Kansas and we ended up stuck in rain and hail for what felt like a very long time.

We finally knew we had no choice but to go back towards the storm and then go south to get out of the rain. We knew what we were doing but being out there with a rotating storm coming at you…well, it’s nerve-wracking for those of us from Arizona where storms don’t necessarily try to kill you.

Finally…we broke free of the rain and to our west…the supercell above was just sitting there over Texas. And yeah, we had no clue but in our race to get out of the rain we ended up in Texas. We’d find that out a bit later. I was driving so I couldn’t look too much, but I could see it anyways and was determined to find a good view. I saw a dirt road and took it, heading up a hill and then down the other side where we had a perfect downslope in front of us to see this storm.

I tried to maintain steadiness as I set up my cameras. No one else may understand this…but as a storm chaser, this was the thing I’d been chasing for four years. It was overwhelming. I was shaking. I knew that I needed to be methodical in taking my time setting up the timelapse. I couldn’t screw it up. Focus. Manual white balance. Clean memory card. All ready. And so I started the timelapse. And then I used the other camera on a tripod to take stills like the one above.

And after the timelapse was rolling and I had gotten shots with the other camera AND had tweeted out an iPhone photo saying “We did it”…I sat back and looked at the thing. And tears filled my eyes. I ran over to Andy and gave him a huge hug.

One of the most breathtaking sights I’ve ever beheld. And pictures don’t do it justice. I wish I could go back and live in that memory over and over.

If you missed the timelapse, you can view it here

Lightning near Booker, Texas

The Leading Edge
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40 f/4 l, 17mm, f/6.3, iso 500, 1 second // buy print)

Chasing storms in Arizona as compared to the plains is just so different. What I love about the plains is how you can chase a storm for long time…it evolves, moves, recycles and can cover a lot of ground. In Arizona…the build up, die and rebuild somewhere else from outflows. You aren’t actually “chasing” individual storms as much as you are trying to stay ahead of the next convection.

When we finally got on the Booker supercell (timelapse here), it was 6:07 pm. This was taken an hour later and it’s the same storm…just losing energy and gusting out. But it was such a blast to just stay ahead of it and keep shooting the different stages it went through. Even this one, towards the end, was absolutely beautiful.

I’m already dying for next spring haha…I’m definitely hooked again and can’t wait to get out there.