Timelapse: Monsoon storm rolls into Phoenix

A couple of days ago we had a fairly epic looking storm roll into Phoenix right at sunset. The clouds were just amazing. There was a dust storm. You can see lightning on the left horizon towards the end of this video. The setting sun creating beautiful red tones was awesome. I’ve been torn lately between photographing things like this and doing timelapes, because I really, REALLY love seeing cloud movement afterwards. One of my favorite things in the world are timelapes of storm and cloud motion. Something we just can’t see too well with the naked eye looks so incredible sped up a bit.

That being said, I’m still learning. This particular one was an experiment in using Aperture Priority. I wanted to lock the aperture and ISO, but let the shutter speed vary. Well, turns out while my controller is running, AV mode doesn’t seem to change the SS unless I stopped the controller and started it again. Doh!

I’m figuring all this out as I go. I kind of like it this way. Making mistakes, figuring out why something didn’t work right. Reading up on new things and not being afraid to try them out. Makes me a lot more intelligent about it all instead of just having all the answers right up front.

My goal in all of this was just to have fun and put together a cool video at the end of the storm season with a bunch of monsoon storm clips so people can see how they look out here.

I hope you enjoy this one…despite some of the varying exposures you’ll get. The music is the theme to the recent Battlestar Galactica TV series because I’ve been dying to find a way to use it. The composer of that series, Bear McCreary, is one of my favs. He’s awesome.

Another Phoenix Haboob – July 18th, 2011

Another big dust storm/haboob just nailed downtown Phoenix. Nothing as epic as the first one, but it was still pretty cool.

I caught it on timelapse again from the same parking garage. I had wanted to bolt further south, but I had run out of time with rush hour traffic, so I just went to the quickest vantage point and turned the camera on. There was a little dust storm first, then the second, larger one rolls in towards the end.

A few things of note for this one.

1. I killed my last remote timer control, so I purchased a Satechi TR-A Timer Remote Control Shutter for Canon and it was HANDS DOWN better than the junk I had before. Never buy the cheap, sub $20 version. Ugh. The connector for the 5D Mark II was just awful.

2. I hang around until the dust hits this time! Got so much crap last time…of course, the dust was pretty thin, and I knew this *grin*

3. I so badly wanted to pan right, but I held my ground.

4. This was an all-manual timelapse this go-round. The harsh light and shadows made this pretty tough to do that way, think I may have been better off in a total auto mode for something like this, but I think it turned out okay.

I love the cars at rush hour just flooding the freeway. You can’t see it, but a plane flies from right to left and almost disappears inside the wall of dust. I saw one wing rise up kind of fast for a second, must have been a fun ride!

Enjoy!

July 18th Downtown Phoenix Haboob - iPhone

The sunset before the haboob

So last week when I was asked about the big haboob timelapse, I usually started off with saying “I was in the backyard doing another timelapse…”

This is that one.

I had been out stormchasing 4-5 nights already and was pretty beat. I figured I’d stay home that night and let the storms come to me, perhaps shoot some lightning from my balcony or the parking garage down the street. When I saw the clouds building out west, I thought to myself “Hey, I can just do a timelapse and then hang out inside, relaxing, watching TV, whatever.”

Of course, a bit later, a text message sent to me with a picture of the dust storm over the San Tans forced me to leave and shoot that.

However…I was really torn. I actually was around a 60/40 between going and staying. The orange/red glow towards the end was so beautiful, I wanted to keep it going.

But my favorite part of this is the thunderstorm that builds on the right horizon and then releases rain like someone dumped it out with a giant bucket. I also dig the soundtrack a lot. My buddy Brian Matiash will want to take credit for it because he told me to use something from Inception sometime, so that’s part of why I used it. But I also already have the album on my iPhone and was just searching for a minute-long song.

This track fits just perfectly with the way the sky unfolds.

The wind picks up a bit towards the end and my ex-tripod head let the camera move around somewhat. That problem has now been remedied!

The Phoenix Haboob of July 5th, 2011

People have asked how to buy prints of the haboob. You can do so right here: Black & White or Color. If you would like to license the video or images, please contact me via the contact form.

There are really not many words to describe this dust storm, or what we call it here (and they also do in places like the Sahara Desert)…a haboob.

This was a haboob of a lifetime. I’ve lived in Phoenix for my entire 35 years of existence and have never seen anything like this before. It was incredible. I stood on the top of a 4-story parking garage just off 7th street and McDowell and couldn’t believe it. Some dude raced up next to me a bit too late with a video camera. People were snapping photos and posting them EVERYWHERE like madmen, me included.

This is a timelapse of the haboob. I wish I could have lasted five more seconds, but the dust was so thick, daytime turned into night instantaneously.

Below are two images from the haboob, one in color and one in B&W!

A Phoenix sunset timelapse

The other evening we had this amazing sunset in Phoenix, a day before we’d actually get some monsoon storms roll into town. At the time, without us having any kind of rain or a sunset or even clouds in what feels like a month, the sight of these dazzling rays was like an omen for the start of storm season.

I was at home, not time to run out and try to capture the sunset in the way I would like, so I rushed around trying to setup the camera and tripod for a timelapse. I wasn’t as fast as I wanted, but I did manage to get the tail end of it and then I just left the camera on until after dark.

This was the result of 1300 images taken 5 seconds apart with my camera on “P” mode, a mode it’s never on unless it’s a timelapse *grin* This allows the camera to deal with the change in light, which you can’t do in manual mode. I know there are expensive tools out there to make this work better, but I don’t got the money for them.

What I do need is some better software so I can get rid of the flickering. But other than that, I’m kind of happy with this. I wish there had been more clouds at the end, but I do like seeing the stars come into view and the planes flying over the city.

My hope is to take timelapses all monsoon season long and piece them together into a big movie at the end. So this is kind of practice for me.

Hope you enjoy!

And below is the Instagram photo I took of the sunset.