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More Wynnewood

A strong EF4 tornado spins across the fields near Katie and Wynnewood, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016

This tornado! Never get tired of it 🙂 I’ve been wanting to take some frames from the time-lapse of this guys and do more fine turning on the editing…so I’m finally getting around to doing that. This was one of the first few frames I shot when I got to this spot south of Wynnewood, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016.

You can see the time-lapse of this at the end of Vorticity, but it’s cropped a bit so you miss out on the beautiful structure above that twister.

Part of doing the fine tuning was removing the powerlines, because while it’s too difficult to do in a time-lapse, I really disliked them and wanted this to feel more in the middle of nowhere. If you can’t tell, I’m dying to get out chasing. Just about three weeks until my schedule is open and I can head out!

Pulse

Song by Tony Anderson: “The Way Home” (Licensed through The Music Bed)
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For quite a few years now I’ve been wanting to do something different with my time-lapse films. I love color. Storms are full of color. The blues, the greens, the warm oranges and reds at sunset. The colors are sometimes what make a simple storm into something extra special.

But black and white speaks to my soul. I love it. There is something when you remove the color that lets you truly see the textures, movement and emotion of a storm.

And then you hear a song. I had asked my buddy Jay Worsley if he had heard anything lately that might rock for a black and white storm film, and he linked me to Tony Anderson’s “The Way Home.” The moment I heard it, I knew that was the song. My recent films have a frantic pace to them and people occasionally tell me they’d love to see the footage in a much slower speed. I already knew that going with the monochrome style sorta demanded something more solemn and poetic…and the song was perfect for that.

I also went with a much wider aspect ratio than I’ve ever done before. I feel like it actually feels like it brings you in closer to the action, almost like you were standing right there with me.

I held myself back for a long time in doing this project because I wasn’t very knowledgable about using tools like Premiere Pro to color grade footage, and all I thought was that I’d have to re-render all my clips as black and white before doing the film. And that’s a lot of work. But the past few years have brought me tons of experience in Premiere Pro, plus help from my buddy Jay Worsley, and I figured out how to do it all there and without a ton of effort.

The film is made up of some of my favorite clips from the past few years. A mix of the monsoon and supercell plains chasing. I’m so inspired by the songs I choose for these videos. Kerry Muzzey, Tony Anderson. Their songs are so powerful and moving and the stories they tell themselves are amazing. I went with clips that felt right with each beat of the song and while I usually try to tell a story with these films, I mostly decided to let the music be that here.

Thanks to Tony Anderson for such an incredible piece of music, and to Jay for pointing it out to me. And also to my friend and fellow time-lapser, Brian Miner (see him on Vimeo), who did some B&W work this past fall and reminded me of what I’ve wanted to do for so long now.

I hope you enjoy this! The creative juices were flowing and I also have some serious withdrawals from chasing storms. I HAD to work on something to hold me over until spring gets here. Only around four months to go before I hit the road to chase supercells and tornadoes in April, May and June!

I have a couple of tornado chasing tours going this spring, if you are interested in checking those out, visit here!

 

Vorticity: A new time-lapse film

Blu-Ray discs available here: http://www.mikeolbinski.com/shop/
Song by Kerry Muzzy: “Found” (Available on iTunes and Amazon – please support him!)
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Blood. Sweat. Tears. Joy.  That’s what this spring was for me. The miles, the grind, the failing, the epic days missed, the lack of sleep, the jubilation, the friendships strengthened, and the time away from my family. And when the chasing was all done…wondering, was worth it all?

Heck yeah it was.

I had three goals this spring: Get a tornado on time-lapse, capture the best footage I possibly could, and chase as much as my schedule would allow. That ended up totalling 18 chase days. 20,000 miles driven. Almost 60,000 time-lapse frames shot. Nine total states. Hours and hours and hours of editing. All between April 15th and June 15th.

And the tornado? Not only did I get one, but I got six more. On April 15th, the very first day out, I saw two tornadoes in the Texas Panhandle. May 9th was Wynnewood and Sulphur in Oklahoma (both in this film), as well as Trinidad on June 13th in Colorado. And while most tornadoes will be obvious in the film, you’ll have to use a keen eye to spot the first two, which appear at 2:08 and 2:13. The Wynnewood tornado, which you will see at the very end of the film, was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I was so focused on keeping up with the storm that day, that I barely realized that I had captured what I’d been working so hard to get. I texted my wife a few photos and simply said “Baby I did it“. It wasn’t until she responded “Babe, it’s beautiful. I’m so happy for you” that I completely lost it – live stream going on in the truck, people watching, and tears streaming down my face.

But that’s how much this spring meant to me, and how hard I was going. Most of the time exhausted. My typical routine would be to leave Phoenix sometime in late afternoon, drive all night, sleep an hour or two in the truck and then chase the next few days. And then drive home all night again. I did whatever I could to to minimize the time away from my family. Heck, I once even shot a wedding all day, left the venue, and drove all night to chase. I didn’t want to miss anything this spring.

What’s awesome to me is that some of my best stuff came from marginal days, where it took some effort and crazy luck to get sick storm structures. Those were the surprises – amazing clips worthy of the final product despite the chase day starting out subpar. Combined together with everything else, I think it’s some of my best footage to date!

Technical note…this film marks the first time I used my Canon 5DSR and 11-24 for time-lapse, which I bought right before the spring started (Thank you Martin Heck for the help!). I’m not 100% sure of course, but I believe the tornadoes in the film may be some of the first ever captured in 8K resolution. The 50 megapixels that camera offers was huge for being able to zoom into certain shots and still maintain fantastic quality and sharpness. Couldn’t be happier with that beast. I also used my trusty 5D3 for the tighter shots, with the 35mm, 50mm or 135mm.

I have to mention Kerry Muzzey here…he has surpassed being kind to me. This is the 3rd or 4th time he’s donated a song to one of my projects and I’m forever grateful. His music is powerful, haunting at times, and always, always perfect for the story I want to tell. This year I knew right away that “Found” was the song I would use. Please visit the links below to support his work!

There are a lot of names to thank which are listed at the end of the film. I owe them all so much for helping me this spring. Nowcasting, making me turn around when I was headed to Montana, teaching me about forecasting, helping me choose the right new camera, editing input, and just being good friends. I am very blessed to have some amazing people around me!

Most of all to my wife, Jina. She knows…every year I’m gone longer. I’m sure next year could be worse. But through it all, even when it’s really tough, she’s always right behind me. Making things work when I’m away. There are never enough words to cover how amazing she is.  But she knows and I know – this film wouldn’t happen without her.

I think that’s about it! Thanks to everyone for the kind words of support all year. I truly hope you enjoy this one! On to Monsoon 3!

 


Technical Details:

Captured with A CANON 5DSR, CANON 5D3, Canon 11-24mm f/4, 16-35mm, 35mm, 50mm, 135mm
Processed using Lightroom, LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro

Most clips available in 8K resolution, as well as 4K.

The Katie, Oklahoma tornado

A powerful, EF3 tornado spins through the small rural community of Katie, Oklahoma on May 9th, 2016.

I’m still in utter disbelief that I saw what I did two days ago in Oklahoma. What turned out to be a destructive and deadly tornado was at the same time one of the most beautiful and amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life. When I turned down this road and it was right down the center…I almost lost my mind. And it seemed to hang out there as it was obviously moving right towards me. I eventually moved south to time-lapse it from a different spot, but Ruppe Road and Katie, Oklahoma will always be a place I remember. And Chester Barnes, an old man who lost his life somewhere near here.

I have more tornado photos to share as well, of this one, of it roping out, of the wedge later near Sulphur and a third one near Connorville. What a day.

(Technical notes. Wish I had taken the time for a tripod and not f/4, but when a tornado is coming your way…you forget things. You can also compare this to the first shot I posted…taken from the exact same location, that one was a 135mm and this was 16mm)

A tornado near Eva, Oklahoma

Sometimes you wish a road could have aqppeared from nowhere to get you a couple miles closer to a storm, with that view and that little tornado hanging out in the back. A great day...this was all captured on time-lapse, including two tornadoes, although they are tough to see...but it was a beautiful view.

Sometimes you wish a road could have aqppeared from nowhere to get you a couple miles closer to a storm, with that view and that little tornado hanging out in the back. A great day…this was all captured on time-lapse, including two tornadoes (one in this photo, one that drops a bit later), although they are tough to see…they are definitely there!
Near Eva, Oklahoma on April 15th, 2016.

Timelapse of a supercell near Booker, Texas

Still prints of this storm for purchase can be found on my gallery.

Follow me on Instagram as well for storm photos and whatnot -> MikeOlbinski

It took four years but I finally got it. A rotating supercell. And not just a rotating supercell, but one with insane structure and amazing movement. I’ve been visiting the Central Plains since 2010. Usually it’s just for a day, or three, or two…but it took until the fourth attempt to actually find what I’d been looking for. And boy did we find it.

No, there was no tornado. But that’s not really what I was after. I’m from Arizona. We don’t get structure like this. Clouds that rotate and look like alien spacecraft hanging over the Earth.

We chased this storm from the wrong side (north) and it took us going through hail and torrential rains to burst through on the south side. And when we did…this monster cloud was hanging over Texas and rotating like something out of Close Encounters.

The timelapse was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 lens. It’s broken up into four parts. The first section ends because it started pouring on us. We should have been further south when we started filming but you never know how long these things will last, so I started the timelapse as soon as I could.

One thing to note early on in the first part is the way the rain is coming down on the right and actually being sucked back into the rotation. Amazing.

A few miles south is where part two picks up. And I didn’t realize how fast it was moving south, so part three is just me panning the camera to the left. During that third part you can see dust along the cornfield being pulled into the storm as well…part of the strong inflow. The final part is when the storm had started dying out and we shot lightning as it passed over us.

Between the third and fourth portions we drove through Booker, Texas where tornado sirens were going off…it was creepy as all heck. And intense.

I hope you enjoy this. Once thing I’ve learned about timelapsing is that I always wish it would be longer or wouldn’t end. I wish I had been south and been able to record this storm come at me for 45 minutes.

But I love it the way it is. I wasn’t ever certain I’d see structure like this even though it’s been such a goal of mine. But we did it.

And by we, I mean myself and my buddy Andy Hoeland, who knows his crap and got us into position so we could chase this storm. Without him along I don’t know if I get this timelapse.

Below is a still-capture from the timelapse that is being sold as a print on either metal or Fuji Pearl paper. Click on the image to go to the gallery. 

The Booker Supercell