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Ayla & James Wedding at Kingan Gardens

James and Ayla’s wedding was so unique and at such a rad little venue down in Tucson. Never shot there before, it was lovely and intimate and definitely worth checking out.

Thanks to these two for being such amazing clients, we had a ball first on their engagement session in downtown Phoenix but their wedding was utterly great as well. Hope you enjoy these!

Venue // Kingan Gardens
Wedding Coordinator/Planner // Kingan Gardens
Invitations // Minted.com
Wedding Dress Shop // The Lovely Bride Phoenix
Bridesmaid Dress Shop // Sugar Bits
Men’s Formal Wear // Men’s Wearhouse
Hair and Makeup // I Do Hair And Makeup
Flowers // Eastland Alley
Ceremony Officiant // Mike Schmidt
Ceremony Music // Dave Harris
Cake // Cakes by Genevieve
Lighting & Decor // Eastland Alley
Reception Music/DJ // Che Wilson
Caterer // Rincon Market

Gabi & Tristan’s wedding at Hacienda Del Sol

Love, love, love these two people. What a gorgeous wedding, simple and relaxed, between a gem of a couple. I’ve shot at Hacienda Del Sol once before and always have good experiences there.

Thank you Gabi and Tristan for making me part of your day, and thank your aunt for the delicious desserts!

Monsoon V (4K)

Blu-Ray discs available here: http://mikeolbinski.com/shop/

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My original plan this past summer was to collect as much footage as normal, but to not put out a “Monsoon V” until 2019 when I had two years worth of crazy haboobs and lightning to make it truly spectacular. But the monsoon had different plans and put on a pretty dang good show in 2018, starting off with a decent dust storm on July 5th, then the best haboob chase I’ve ever had on July 9th, an epic green hail core on July 11th and finally another fantastic dust storm day on August 2nd.

Sprinkled in there…more dust storm, some at night, spectacular lightning, and tons of microbursts and stormy clouds, plus a few rotating supercells to put some icing on the cake. It was one of the best monsoon seasons I’ve chased, so I couldn’t help but get to work on Monsoon V a few weeks ago.

I love doing these films so much. So much hard work for months on end goes into capturing them. Almost 15,000 miles this summer across Arizona. 85,000+ frames with plenty more deleted. A total of 32 days out there chasing over three months. Sleep deprivation, tons of gas money, crappy food and yes, sometimes missing storms I wish I had been on.

But the highs were amazing. Chasing with my kiddos…sharing the July 9th haboob bonanza with Lyla and Eli…or an all-night chase with my youngest, Asher. They were so awesome to have along. Two workshops with five fantastic people. Both were so fun and the storms we saw were just wonderful.  I feel so blessed to teach people and show the monsoon off to those who have never seen it before.

As always is the case…this year, including tornado season, I chased the most I ever have. Which means more time away from home. And Jina…my incredible wife…she’s so supportive of my passion and this business. Taking care of the kids and running everything at home during those months…I am forever amazed at how she always has my back, even during the times when it’s too hard and she’d rather not. I can’t thank her enough for allowing me to chase my dreams.

I do want to thank all of you watching this…over the years, so many people have seen the films, left kind words, purchased DVDs, prints and even books. I don’t know how many people asked me this year about when Monsoon V was coming out, and I have to say…it was extremely motivating. So thank you for the support and kind words of encouragement and excitement about these storm movies…I can honestly say you are a huge reason why I keep making them!

Technical Details:
Music: Avalon and Legend by Ryan Taubert (through TheMusicbed.com, sign-up for licensing here: http://share.mscbd.fm/mikeolbinski)

Everything shot with two Canon 5DSRs and various Canon lenses. Might be a couple lightning sequences with the Sony A7R3

Processed in Lightroom, LR Timelapse, After Effects and Premiere Pro.

Stephanie & Bobby’s wedding at San Pedro Chapel

A stunner of a Tucson wedding photographed by my associate, Courtney Larson! Stephanie and Bobby were such a blast to work with she said, not to mention Steph’s hair and dress were incredible.

Hope you enjoy the photos!

Wedding Coordinator/Planner // Akiko Senda at Soiree Girls
Wedding Dress Shop // BHLDN
Hair // Lindsey and Mariah at Studio B Designs
Makeup // Nissa at R Salon
Flowers // Soiree Girls
Favors / Gifts // Totally Promotional
Ceremony Officiant // Peter Bourland
Ceremony & Reception Music // Lucky Devils Band
Cake // Pin-Up Pastries
Lighting / Decor // Soiree Girls
Caterer // Pin-Up Pastries Street Kitchen and Seis Curbside Kitchen (food trucks)
Table drapes and chairs // Red Diamond Rentals

Thomas & Kendra’s wedding at San Pedro Chapel

Not enough words can be said about the fun, laughter and joy that took place at Thomas and Kendra’s wedding this past New Year’s Eve down in Tucson, Arizona. The day started off at a vacation rental, then it was off to San Pedro Chapel and finally the Whistle Stop Depot for the all-night party. The bride and groom are musicians and they even played in their band to help countdown the time until midnight, it was crazy awesome. And the Whistle Stop was such a unique venue, I hope I get to shoot there again someday!

I owe big thanks not only to Courtney Larson for second shooting with me hours from home on NYE, but also to her husband Eric who came to my rescue and helped with the photobooth! You guys are an amazing couple and I’m so thankful I’ve gotten to know you both.

Thomas and Kendra, thank you incredibly for trusting us with your day. It was a little moody, a little rainy and…a little perfect. So very thankful we got to be with you guys and celebrate your big day!

Stephanie & Jeff’s wedding at The Windmill Winery

Stephanie and Jeff were such a blast to work with. Climbing fences, standing in roads, dancing and just being super chill the entire day. Love the red dress that Stephanie changed into during the reception too! And the bonfire! And the smores! And a beer donkey! And the cutest flower girl I’ve ever seen!

This was my first time shooting at Windmill Winery and it’s a place you aren’t really expecting to run into. You leave Phoenix, head towards Florence and it’s just desert. You don’t think there’s really a beautiful venue out this way, but then you pull into the drive and it’s gorgeous.  It was also my first time working with Courtney Larson, who second shot for me, and it was fantastic getting to know her.

Hope you enjoy the photos!

Wedding Coordinator/Planner // Karen Durham (Windmill Winery)
Wedding Dress Shop // Gigi Bridal
Hair and Makeup // Salon Blonde
Flowers // Best Buds
Cake // Village Bakehouse
Reception Music / DJ // Ellagant Entertainment

Monsoon II

Blu-Ray discs available here.
Song by Kerry Muzzy: “Palladio Rebuilt” find it on iTunes (please consider supporting Kerry by purchasing the single or an album!)
Follow me: twitter.com/mikeolbinski / facebook.com/mikeolbinskiphotography / instagram.com/mikeolbinski


I’ve been chasing the monsoon in Arizona for about 6-7 years now. This summer was different though. Back in late July, I was wondering why it felt like I was out chasing more than ever before. And then I remembered. I had a job last summer. This year I didn’t. I went full-time photography in November of 2014 and haven’t looked back.

I was free to roam and had virtually no limitations.  I even had multiple chases where I never actually wend to bed, but instead chased all night. I took the kids to New Mexico at one point early in the season.

Last year I counted roughly 31 total days that I chased a storm during the monsoon. This summer: 48. Yikes.

17,000 miles driven, which was about 3,000 more than last year. Perhaps the biggest difference this year was shooting nearly 60,000 more time-lapse frames than I did in 2014. 105,000 total. And what sticks out to me even more than any of the other numbers above, is that only 55,000 of those 105,000 frames made it into Monsoon II.

What that means is I was able to stuff this new film with only of the best of the best. We missed out on some of the huge dust storms like I’ve captured in years past, but overall, I think this represents some of the best weather I’ve ever photographed in Arizona. There are stunning shelf clouds, gorgeous rain shafts, lots of blowing dust, tons of lightning, and even multiple mini-supercells/mesocyclones. The brief meso over Cottonwood at the 3:38 mark is one of my all-time favorites.

I can’t talk much more about the film without addressing the music real quick. The song is called Palladio (Rebuilt) and it’s once again by the amazing Kerry Muzzey who donated it to me for Monsoon II. He also let me use another song of his for my previous film, The Chase and I’m beyond grateful for his generosity. I mean, how do you thank someone enough for that? Click here to find the song on iTunes and please support his work! I’ve said it a million times…the music is at least 50% of these movies I make. Kerry’s art helps bring my films to life. Thank you my friend!

A few other words of thanks. My good friend and plains chase buddy, Andy Hoeland…always helps with forecasting and things he sees that I might miss. Mike Leuthold…his forecasting models at UofA have been hugely beneficial and it’s been fun to get to know him better this summer! Jeff Beamish in Tucson for helping me out when I’m down there! All the National Weather Service offices here in Arizona, especially Phoenix…thanks for all the hard work you do, even though it’s not always appreciated. You get bashed when you are wrong, and don’t get enough credit when you are right.  And to my buddy Jay Worlsey…he helped me loop a 6:15 song into an 8:30 song. Thanks for showing me the way my friend!

Above everyone else though…my wife Jina. I thank her every time I make a film because without her this would be impossible. Now she’s working part-time, so  when she comes home and I’m gone, and she has the kids to take care of as well…unless they happen to be with me that day. And this summer I was gone even more and she took it all in stride. There is nothing like having someone behind you, pulling for you, supporting you and being your biggest fan. Thank you Jina!

When I’m out there capturing footage for these films, I’m constantly thinking about the story I want to tell. For example, I wanted a lot of erupting, towering cumulus at the beginning to launch into the meatier clips. I started laying out the film back in mid-August. Certain clips I already knew would be in certain places in relation to the ups and downs of the song itself. As the season wore on, I gathered more and more clips and began to lay out the entire film. I’d remove clips when I got something better. There was exhausting editing, re-editing, looping music, reluctantly dropping clips that didn’t work or were unfixable and watching it over, and over and over, to make sure I was telling the story I wanted to tell.

At one point, about halfway through…I was telling Jina that I have a lot of great stuff, but still haven’t shot the final scene yet. I had no idea what it would be, but I knew I didn’t have it. And then that very night (or maybe the next day)…I was out west of Tonopah and I knew on the way home that the monsoon had finally delivered my ending.

That is what is so amazing about doing this. You hit the road with zero idea about what you’re going to see over the course of a summer. You might imagine scenarios or have ideas, but they get blown out of the water by reality. And that’s what I love about it.

My hope is that you can see and feel that love in this film. The beauty of the monsoon in Arizona. This is where I’m from and this is home.

 

 

Monsoon | A time-lapse film

Follow me: instagram/MikeOlbinski, twitter/MikeOlbinskiand facebook/MikeOlbinskiPhotography

All summer long when I’m chasing storms, I’m also time-lapsing. It’s actually my main goal when I’m out there. A clip here and a clip there. Some days you get nothing great, some days you get SIX amazing scenes in a single afternoon. A powerful rain shaft. An intense hail core dump. Shelf clouds. Dust storms. Lightning. The Milky Way. That’s what I’m capturing out here in Arizona between June 15th and September 30th every year, which is our official monsoon window. And this is the result of all that time spent.

My favorite part of capturing all this is when I sit down to create this final film. While some scenes are worthy of standing on their own, a lot of them need to be part of something bigger. And when I start laying it out, they suddenly morph into this collection of storm imagery that tells the story of my summer.

This year I wanted to raise the bar. Not compared to everyone else, but my own personal bar. I licensed music this time. I wanted two amazing songs and I think I found them. Powerful, fast-paced, intense. Nothing gives life to your clips like a beautiful soundtrack.

People who follow my work may notice this year’s edition has a new name. I decided I wanted something very simple and to the point. From now on, this will be the “Monsoon” series.

I’m incredibly proud of this film. I’ve probably felt the same way every year in the past, but there is something about this summer that blew away the others. And I think it’s because I’m better at what I do. I’m finding the structure in storms like I never have before.  Our haboobs (dust storms) were limited this year, but those days were amazing, as you’ll see.  And I caught even more lightning this summer than the last two years combined. I think the scenes are more powerful and cinematic than ever. And for this final product, I’ve quickened the pace and I believe I’m finally showing the monsoon in all its beauty and glory.

There are over 45,000 frames in this film. I drove over 14,000 miles across Arizona. This takes work, time and patience. The month of July felt like a huge failure. It was a rough start. It seemed as if the year was going to be brutal and I’d be lucky to capture anything good. And then it all changed and I’m here now releasing what I feel is my best overall work to-date.

I’d like to thank a few people. Dustin Farrell, Sean Parker, Jesse Attanasio, Joel Schat and Bryan Snider. All of you helped me in some way. Answered my technical questions, helped me switch to better software, enabled me to take another leap in quality and inspired me. I appreciate your friendships and willingness to share.

Mostly though, I have to thank my family. My two older kids, Lyla and Eli (6 and 2 1/2) were along for the ride for many of these storms. The final shot in the whole film was one where my wife was out of town and I took all THREE of the kiddies with me, including my youngest who just turned one. I’ll always remember that moment. The Milky Way blazing in the sky, I was feeding the baby a bottle, and taking turns with Lyla who did the best she could until her arm got tired and I took back over. Out there on a dark road off Interstate 10. Meeting another photographer named Val and just enjoying a spectacular moment with my kids all being a part of it.

And to Andy Hoeland for being my forecaster buddy who helps me with figuring out when good things might happen!

My wife though. Jina. Wow.  She believes in me like no one else could or ever will. She knows what I have to do and empowers me to do it. In fact, while I want this film to be amazing for everyone watching, I truly want to impress her the most. It means that all the time away this summer was worth it. Because life is a little bit nuts during the monsoon in our house, where I’ve returned from a chase at 6:30am having being out for 16 hours straight, only to go back out later that night after only a two hour nap.

I say it a lot and I’ll say it again. I wouldn’t be here without her. And I love her for it.

Technical Details and Credits

This past spring I purchased an eMotimo and Dynamic Perception rail system…but I ended up not using them. At all. I wanted to. Believe me. But many of these clips aren’t very long in real time. Sometimes less than 15-20 minutes in a lot of cases. If I took the time to set-up a rail or panning head, I’d be missing a lot. So none of the clips this year use outside motion control.

I used two Canon 5D Mark III’s along with a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 and Canon L lenses, like the 17-40mm, 16-35mm, 50mm, 35mm and even the 135mm. I didn’t even use the Promote Control this year, I kept it simple and used various intervalometers, from wired kinds to a wireless versions from Pixel and Vello.  A couple of Manfrotto tripods held the cameras down.

Songs: Bernini’s Angels by Kerry Muzzey and Inertia by Dexter Britain

Thank you for watching. All clips are available in 4K resolution. Please email, comment or message me on Vimeo for questions, licensing inquiries and whatever else you might need!

A red sky in Marana

Red Sky in Marana
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, iso 100, f/16, 0.6 sec // buy print)

Last Friday my buddy Matt Granz and I met up down near Tucson and stumbled upon one of the more incredible monsoon sunsets I’ve ever seen.

There was just so much going on as the sun went down. You can see lightning obviously, which was gold Jerry, gold! Then around 4-5 separate rain shafts. Then there is this circular looking base to the storm which looked pretty cool. And all while that was happening the sun lit it up in various shades of yellow to orange to red.

Even the ground got a slight orange-reddish tint to it from the reflection of the clouds.

Nothing is more fun than chasing a thunderstorm in Arizona during the summer and never knowing what is in store for you. Keeps me coming back.

 

Trifecta over Tucson

A trifecta
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, rokinon 14mm f/2.8, iso 50, f/16, 2.0 sec // buy print)

This photo may look familiar if you follow me regularly…it was taken roughly four minutes after this other one I posted last summer.

The amazing thing is how the colors change in a matter of minutes. While I loved the other one, this one is my favorite of the two. I dig the purple tones and also love how the rainbow is much more defined and easier to see here. I am showing my work in an art show this Friday and Saturday and this just got printed on a gorgeous 20×30 canvas.

I still find myself so blessed that I was somehow in the right place on this night. I’ve never been able to capture lightning like this against an amazing sunset …but to get a rainbow tossed in was just a bonus.

The bottom of the barrel of storm images from last summer is starting to become visible…but there are a few more coming over the next couple months!