Vorticity: A new time-lapse film

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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.

New Volvic Mineral Water commercial

This new Volvic Mineral Water commercial by Le Chaînon Manquant used a couple seconds of my storm footage at :55 and :57!

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!)
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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.

 

 

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 Chase – Official Teaser

For the past six year I’ve been chasing storms on the central plains of the United States. But it started off small…a single day here. Three days there. Last year in 2014, I was able to spend seven days chasing, the longest I had up until that point. And it still wasn’t enough.

This past spring I went for it. Fourteen total days. Two in April and then one long trip that began on May 23rd and ended June 3rd. It was amazing. What I saw, how I felt…it was like nothing before.
Here is the official trailer for The Chase…a time-lapse short film that was photographed across 10 states and put over 12,000 miles on my 4Runner. I saw more supercells, funnel clouds and beautiful storms than ever before. It was worth the long, draining days on the road and time away from my wife and three kids.

For the first time ever, I felt like a true part of the chaser community. Twelve straight days will do that to you. The grind of waking up, looking at models and then hitting the road. Mostly though…it’s the friendships you make. Like that June 1st night in Rapid City, South Dakota, where every storm chaser seemed to end up…and we hung out, talked about the crazy storms, ate food and strengthened bonds.

I’m extremely proud of this film. Yet all it does is make me want to work harder on the next one. Next spring I hope to spend even more time out there.

The release will happen in the next two weeks, but in the meantime…I hope you enjoy this little teaser.

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Music: Destiny Waits by Bradford Nyght, licensed through The Music Bed

Footage in the new Microsoft Cloud commercial

This new commercial for Microsoft Cloud is all about how Accuweather uses the cloud product for their business. Love being connected to Accuweather and I really dig this commercial.

I have three clips in this video, two dust storm ones and also my Booker supercell time-lapse. Hope you enjoy!

A March supercell in Arizona

Last week I was out chasing storms and saw a bonanza of shelf clouds south of Phoenix. Later in the afternoon, I went south past Picacho Peak and watched two large cells move closer and closer together until suddenly they merged into a large thunderstorm, with a hail core and structure. It look completely like a supercell and on this time-lapse, you can see the back end of it rotating for a little bit. Early on in both clips you can also see the bluish hail core dump on the right side of the base!

I have a few other clips of the shelf clouds, but really wanted to show this guy. Awesome to see this kind of storm in Arizona…and especially in March! Great start to the year already.

Below is just a still image from this storm. So beautiful!

A March Supercell in Arizona

A quick chase from March 2nd

The last few years I’ve gotten away from posting really short movies, especially if they are from a single day of chasing. I instead want to gather as much footage as I can for a time and then make a longer film. The exceptions are when it’s an AMAZING day and I just have to post something…like the Booker Supercell back in 2013.

Or…like today. A quick winter storm chase isn’t something I’ll be using in my annual plains film or my monsoon film. So normally it would just sit on my hard drive not ever being seen unless I put a few clips together in a super short little film. Which is what I did here.

March 2nd, 2015. This was an awesome day for being early in the year and in Arizona. Fantastic clouds, tons of motion in the sky, weak shelf fronts, beautiful landscapes…it was a perfect day. I’d been needing something like this for awhile, just to tide me over until spring on the plains and this summer here.

Hope you enjoy this quickie film.

Music / Palladio by Kerry Muzzey

Tech: Canon 5D Mark III, Rokinon 14mm, 24mm, 35mm and 85mm (Recently purchased the last three Rokinon lenses listed here since they have manual aperture rings. I hate remembering to lens twist!)

Lost//Discovered: Time-lapse

Back in mid-January, my buddies Jason Williams, Andrew Fleming and Jay Worsley joined me for a road trip through Arizona in a rented motorhome. We dubbed the trip “LOST//DISCOVERED” to embrace the idea that we were getting away from our daily, hectic lives and finding something we’d misplaced…whatever it was. Our love of nature, our creativity, a bond with God…

We get so wrapped up in our jobs, kids, families and lives in general…trips like this are ways to experience something different. Something new. To discover who we are. Build friendships. Clear your head. Re-energize.

This road trip was roughly 1300 miles through essentially the top-right quarter of Arizona. We headed north early one morning to photograph sunrise at Sunset Point, and then from there the trip was on. We hit Grand Falls, Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly and the White Mountains.

This short film is just a look back at that trip and what we saw. Being the storm-chaser that I am, it was incredibly awesome to capture a winter storm front rolling around eastern Arizona. In fact, it almost looked like a dust storm rolling in…thus we kept yelling out “SNOWBOOB!” because of just the incredible sight of it. I personally have never witnessed something like that.

Hope you enjoy this quick look at our trip and the places we saw.

And on March 9th, Jay Worsley will release his own film from the trip…which is a beautiful, 16-minute documentary style story about what we discovered along the way.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, March 2nd), we’ll be having a release party for Jay’s film and you can find out more info here.

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Photographed on: Canon 5D III’s, various lenses, Dynamic Perception Stage Zero.
Music: KINGS by Ryan Taubert (through The Music Bed)

Lost // Discovered: Teasers

My road trip across northern and eastern Arizona with Jason Williams, Jay Worsley and Andrew Fleming was pretty amazing. Here’s a taste of things to come.

First up is a little teaser of my time-lapse film from the trip.

And once you watch that…here are two trailers from my buddy Jay Worsley, who is making a 15-minute semi-documentary about the trip, which is absolutely awesome. Can’t wait to share that as well!

Teaser #1

Official Trailer