For this photographer, following the storm produces awe-inspiring results

In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, we look at the work of Arizona photographer Mike Olbinski. He goes where the storm goes -- to photograph timelapse videos. Olbinski’s videos have been used in commercials, documentaries and even feature films.

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  • MIKE OLBINSKI, Photographer:

    My name is Mike Olbinski. And I am a professional storm and wedding photographer based out of Phoenix, Arizona.

    It's kind of kind of a crazy profession. And I got into it mainly because I have loved the weather ever since I was a kid. And it wasn't until, you know, early 30s that I started seeing photos of lightning, and I just started getting interested in it.

    My time-lapses are still frames. So my camera is taking a picture every second, every two seconds, every three seconds, whatever I'm out there trying to do, and then those get kind of put together into a video.

    It kind of goes back to the old days of animation, where people used to draw cartoons on a piece of paper on like a hundred pages, and then flip through it, and you would get this motion happening.

    I kind of have two chase seasons in a way. I chase out on the Plains in the spring, and then I live in Phoenix, so then I just chase the monsoon all summer.

    And, obviously, it's a lot easier here. And this is kind of where I started, because all I have to do is just drive 40 miles to get somewhere to shoot a dust storm, instead of driving 16 hours to Oklahoma to shoot a storm that might not happen.

    I think the dust storms are something that are kind of unique to us. Other people get them every now and then, but we get them all the time.

    The lightning out here is just — is probably better than most places, just because our storms are really what they call high-based, where the bottom of the storms are really up high, so you see a lot more of the lightning hitting the ground.

    Out on the Plains, these storms just take on otherworldly appearances because they are rotating as they go upwards. And a lot of times, that rotation ends up turning the storm into looking like a flying saucer or the mother ship, as everybody likes to say.

    I have seen some pretty amazing storms over the course of the last seven or eight years. The first one was the big dust storm that hit Phoenix on July 5, 2011. I have lived here my whole life, and I have never — I have seen dust storms all the time, but I have never seen one like this. It just looked like the end of the world.

    A couple years later, in 2013, we were in Texas, and we were shooting this storm in front of a cornfield that had been chopped down. And then the sun was setting, and so the whole sky was orange. And this supercell was spinning. It was just sucking up dirt off the ground.

    I just love this, like, solitude of being out there, being with nature, seeing these amazing storms, and trying to get the best footage and photos that I possibly can.


    All I can say is wow.


    Those pictures, the dust storm picture of Phoenix, amazing.


    Just — I have never seen anything like it.


    I wouldn't want to be behind the camera. OK.

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