One of my annual traditions around these parts is to post a nice recap of the year in photos. They range from road trips with friends, family pics, wedding, photoshoots and of course, storm images. It felt like a different year overall, a little more subdued, with spring chasing offering slightly less excitement this time around and a couple less weddings. But wow it was a blast of a year regardless!
The year kicked off at a little shoot with a former bride and groom from Australia and their new baby girl, and then I was off on a road trip with Jay, Jason and Andrew to Death Valley and the eastern Sierras. From there it was wedding season, then storm chasing on the plains, followed by epic haboob and lightning action across Arizona during the monsoon, and finally fall weddings and family portraits. Toss in some wonderful family moments, it was a year to remember.
It also marked my fourth year as a full-time photographer and it keeps getting better and better. I still feel incredibly blessed that I get to do this everyday.
Hope you enjoy this look back at some of my favorite images, including at least a photo from almost every wedding and family session!
https://i1.wp.com/mikeolbinski.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/20180709-632499.jpg?fit=2048%2C1152&ssl=111522048Mikehttps://www.mikeolbinski.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/EnfoldLogo.gifMike2018-12-30 21:36:382018-12-30 21:36:51This was 2018
The third day of my Plains Chase Tour this spring was a marginal one, we woke up in Garden City on May 31st and by mid-afternoon we were in Lubbock chasing storms to our south. We got on one that was okay, but then a storm near Lamesa formed and we noticed an outflow boundary headed for it from the east. We hoped it would give it some extra juice and by the time we got down there, it certainly turned into a full-fledged gorgeous supercell for about an hour.
This was southeast of Lamesa and wow did it look stunning. All the dust churning underneath and the teethy low clouds on the left side. One of my favorite storms from this spring and all on a marginal day!
April 16th, 2015. What a great day. This was one of those storms I was on from the very beginning. I saw the anvil explode into the sky and slowly the storm evolved and as it neared me, the structure was amazing. Over the course of two hours I only moved about a mile. I love this brush-like wall cloud hanging over the Texas prairie.
You can see how I edited this image on a screencast I’ll be releasing in the coming week! Sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get notified when that’s available…for subscribers only!
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark iii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, 16mm, f/8, iso 100, 1/25th // buy print)
One of my favorite days of chasing in recent memory…with this storm north of Pampa, Texas firing before noon, and here and hour later, maturing into a gorgeous supercell. It was quickly tornado warned and one of the most beautiful storms I’ve seen.
Later in the day I would end up seeing my first ever tornado and chase until late in the evening, eventually having to turn around and head back home to Phoenix.
Is it spring yet???
https://i1.wp.com/mikeolbinski.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/20150416-244217-Edit.jpg?fit=2048%2C1365&ssl=113652048Mikehttps://www.mikeolbinski.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/EnfoldLogo.gifMike2015-10-22 11:51:192015-12-02 18:16:48North of Pampa
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.
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!
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!
(please click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, canon 16-35mm f/2.8 l, iso 400, f/5.6, 1/250th, handheld 9-image stitch // buy print)
Last week Tuesday I jumped in my truck and drove all the way to Colorado and the plains to chase storms for two days. This was the second day in the Texas panhandle. I watched this supercell start off as simple towering cumulus and two hours later it became this beast hovering over the farmlands northwest of Pampa.
Three hours prior, I had been near this spot, talking on my live stream about how this part of Texas was so beautiful, I was praying I could capture an amazing supercell just hanging over these farmlands. And then suddenly storms fired and I didn’t move but a few miles over the course of several hours. The storm intensified and became a supercell in short order, and then evolved in so many ways. This was one of my favorite views of the entire day. Wide open, descending prairie…and even a little windmill out there. Thursday turned out more incredible than I could have hoped for when I woke up that morning, I can’t wait to share more!
(click to view on black // canon 5d mark ii, tamron 17-35mm 2.8, 17mm, f/5.0, iso 4000, 20 sec // buy print)
It’s Movie Title Wednesday, a series that has been going on so long that I’m surprised I haven’t run out of films to use yet.
Moon is one of those hidden gems that you may not have heard of before. It came out several years ago and stars Sam Rockwell as a guy who is on a 3-year stint managing a mining operation on the Moon that helps replenish Earth’s resources. If you love pure, classic science fiction…this is a film you gotta see. The movie received an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.0 rating on IMDB. Solid numbers.
On the last day of stormchasing the monsoons last year, I ended up driving over 450 miles. I was up near Winslow, the day was over and it was time to head home. I chose highway 87 which would take me through Payson, a route I’d only been on once before. A bit after 8pm I realized I was in this wide open area with retreating clouds and some of the Milky Way appearing above me. I pulled over and aimed south to capture some stars, but the clouds were quickly returning and the shot didn’t turn out so well.
But then, as usually happens, I turned around and saw the moon rising. I’ve shown this picture to a few people, plus it appears at the end of my latest book, and most of the time the first thought is that it’s a sunrise. Until you see the stars in the sky and realize that would be impossible.
The moon rose with a orange glow about it and the clouds were perfect, even getting lit up underneath a bit as if it were a sunrise. The taillights from the car illuminated the highway.
It was so peaceful out there too…quiet, nothing for miles and miles and miles. Not a car in sight. Was a wonderful way to end the stormchasing season.