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The creation of a dust storm | Timelapse

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A powerful microburst fell onto the desert floor south of Gila Bend on August 13th, 2012. I was moments too late to capture the birth of it, but I timelapsed what I could.

This should really give you an idea of how these things form out of nothing…a strong draft of air falls from the thunderhead and explodes in all directions. When this happens out in the desert, the dust picks up and you can see how the air ripples outwards like in a pool of water.

This was a painstaking timelapse to finish because I sadly shot it at f/18 so I could have 1/5th sec shutter speeds to hopefully give myself a chance to capture lightning (ND filters next year). And I did get a few lightning strikes actually! But it resulted in horrible dust spots and bad flicker. This is made up of 838 exposures and I manually de-flickered them because third party apps weren’t working for me. That was a very, very long and tedious process. I never want to do that again.

But I felt this one was worth it and happy to be done with it now!

The image at the top is a quick capture of the initial outflow picking up dust as I was setting up for the timelapse. Below is the video itself.

Haboob crossing

Crossing the Road
(please click to view larger on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/8, iso 100, 1/200th // buy print)

Yeah, I love road shots to death…not much I can do about that. So snagging one with a large haboob crossing just a little ways to the south was a fun catch.

This is Toltec Road near Eloy…I loved the light here with the sun going down. Nice long shadow across the road. Also that low sun really brought out the texture in this old highway, not to mention highlighting the dust cloud itself.

Have a lot planned this coming summer and it’s going to be a busy one. Cannot wait.

The origins of a dust storm

I realized the other day that I never posted this timelapse I shot of a dust storm being created unseen on the horizon and then hitting me an hour later. I thought I did, but ended up getting too busy!

All summer I had been dying to capture a scene like this…where I started shooting way before you even saw any dust or anything. Having lived out here my entire life, I knew those storms would kick up some kind of dust cloud. So I took a chance and started snapping while the clouds were still far, far away.

The result was perfect. It’s actually kind of tough to aim your camera in one direction and pray that the dust comes right at you and doesn’t veer to the left, or veer to the right. I watched the storms on radar for about 10 minutes before starting the timelapse, just so I could be sure of where they were headed.

This was shot with an ultra-wide, 14mm Rokinon lens, so the towers out in the distance look a lot flatter than they really are, but that’s what happens!

Hope you enjoy!

 

More haboob – September 6th, 2012, Phoenix, Arizona

Watch FULL SCREEN in HD puhleeeez!

Oh yeah…another haboob dust storm awesomeness rolled into Phoenix this evening and blanketed the town in dust for over an hour. The wall was about 50 miles long and the winds didn’t seem that strong, so the dust just lingered in the air forever. Blech.

I regret not getting to this spot 10 minutes earlier, but thems the breaks kid.

Met with some wedding clients right after this and then flew up the Beeline and captured some lightning. All in a days work.

A micro-dust-burst-haboob something or other

(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 17-40mm f/4 l, 17mm, f/9.0, iso 100, blend // buy print)

I was shooting a timelapse of the dust storm in the opposite direction when I turned to look behind me and saw this. A  towering monsoon thunderstorm, a strong downdraft (potential microburst) and an approaching dust storm/haboob all creating one crazy scene.

The dynamic range was intense though as you might be able to tell. The sun was hidden by clouds except at the top of that thunderstorm where it was so bright that if exposed correctly, made the rest of the image almost black. I rarely go into post-processing talk these days, but this guy was kind of tough. As I’ve gotten away from doing HDR, I am doing more blending using luminosity masking (LM). I use LM on almost all my processing these days (other than B&W), I find it a lot of fun with more natural results. But blending something like this was tough for me and I’m still learning how to do it correctly.

Whatever the processing method…it was still an amazing sight. Usually storms build up along the outflow of a dust storm, not way out in front like this one. So it’s rare to get a scene like this with an incoming dust wall and a large downdraft out ahead.

Another dust storm rolling through uptown Phoenix

It wouldn’t bee a monsoon thunderstorm if we didn’t have a wall of dust moving through town. Usually though, that’s all we get…but the last two days have seen decent rain for Phoenix. It’s been crazy weather, flash flooding on the outskirts of town and widespread precipitation.

Been a busy summer for the monsoon season. Definitely more active than I remember in recent years.

A dust storm timelapse over downtown Phoenix

I know. So tired of these. But I like ’em. Don’t see the dust come from the west very often.

A few more shots of the July 21st haboob in Phoenix

Here are just a few more images I captured yesterday during a fairly awesome haboob that rolled through town. And yes, even the people that hate the use of the word “haboob” might admit that Saturday’s storm certainly had some of the same characteristics as last year’s giant one on July 5th.

In case you missed it, here is a timelapse from yesterday’s dust storm and below are a couple more pictures. These were captured south of town as the storm rolled in. I had been timelapsing the entire thing when it was south of Casa Grande, and stopped when it hit me at I-10 and the 587. This first shot below was from that intersection.

This second shot was on the shoulder of I-10 just a tad north of Queen Creek, which is the overpass in the distance. These vehicles were going at a very slow pace and it was packed.

Police closed the freeway further south of this, which was evident once the wall of dust hit because the road suddenly became like something out of the Book of Eli. There wasn’t a soul anywhere close except for me.

Another haboob – July 21st, 2012

Another amazing looking dust storm rolled through Phoenix tonight. At times it had the looks of the July 5th, 2011 version. This was a quick timelapse at a shot every 2 seconds before I got slammed by the trailing edge of this thing. It actually kind of wrapped around town from the east and the south.

Here’s an image from the storm below, check out some more right here.

A wall of dust from Jomax Road

Dust Storm Haboob Jomax Road Arizona

Just a quickie shot from Jomax Road at around 8pm on Wednesday evening. Dust storm rolled right across the entire Phoenix area and out the northwest side.

Loving that 14mm Rokinon lens I purchased not too long ago. Super wide fun.