Time-lapse: Storms and Landscapes
Time-lapse is a huge part of what I do. That passion was born from the basic desire to see how a dust storm looked when sped-up. And it just so happened that my third ever time-lapse was of the historic July 5th, 2011 haboob that hit Phoenix. From there things just exploded for me. My mission every storm season, on the plains and in Arizona, is to record as much weather as I can for my own short films, but also for licensing to whoever needs it.
My work has been seen in countless documentaries, commercials, films and television. Highlights include licensing by Al Gore, storm footage used in the North America series, State Farm and Acura commercials, ESPN Super Bowl promos and the motion picture Thor: The Dark World.
For licensing inquiries, please contact me here.
Follow me: twitter.com/mikeolbinski, www.mikeolbinski.com, www.facebook.com/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.
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.
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.
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 supercell near Booker, Texas
- The Phoenix Haboob of July 5th, 2011
- The Arizona Monsoon in Timelapse (2012)
- Mike Olbinski Photography - Promo Reel
- Seven Days on the Plains
- May 9th, 2012 - Dust storms near Casa Grande and Phoenix
- Mike's 2011 Stormchasing Trip
- Downtown Phoenix Sunset - May 8th, 2013
- Phoenix Haboob - July 3rd, 2014
- Downtown Phoenix Sunset - June 28th, 2011
- A dying monsoon thunderstorm at sunset
- September 6th, 2012 Phoenix Haboob/Dust Storm
- Phoenix, Arizona - July 21st, 2012 Haboob
- Phoenix Haboob | September 6th, 2014
- The 2013 Arizona Monsoon in Timelapse
- The birth of an Arizona dust storm
- The Radio Fire - West of Whetstone, Arizona - July 2nd, 2014
- The creation of a dust storm | Timelapse