Arizona-based photographer Mike Olbinski has been chasing the Southwest Monsoon for 7 years, but he has never seen a summer storm season quite like this one. Recently leaving his full-time job, Olbinski was able to devote more of his time to capturing the ever-changing and dramatic conditions that the monsoon provided.
Olbinski devoted 48 days to chasing the Southwest Monsoon, which resulted in over 17,000 miles driven…almost all of it in the Arizona. Last year, Olbinski was only able to chase for 31 days, due to the job that he held at home in Phoenix. The extra time on the road added over 45,000 frames captured from his 2014 chase, bringing his total to 105,000 total. On his blog, Olbinski talks about how the extra time and frames captured allows him more freedom to only include the best scenes in the final film.
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.
It is evident that Olbinski was made for this. I covered his last film, “The Chase” in June, and at the time, we thought it was one of the best storm-chasing films we had ever seen. That is until “Monsoon II”. The film is a Tour De Force, cumulating with one of the most insane closing scenes that I have ever seen.
I asked Olbinski what drives him to overcome the sheer amount of work that goes into a project of this magnitude. His answer speaks volumes about why he is one of the best storm photographers in the world.
The simple answer is…I can’t help it, I have to do it. I love doing this, it’s a passion, it’s sometimes an addiction…and it’s just part of me.