Phoenix, Arizona based photographer and filmmaker Dustin Farrell had never really tried his hand at storm chasing. Even though he is friends with such highly regarded chasers such as Mike Olbinski, he never really had the itch to chase the monsoons during Arizona’s summer storm season. But that all changed in 2017 when Farrell got his hands on a Phantom Flex4k, a video camera capable of filming uncompressed RAW video at a mind-blowing 1,000 frames per second.
Farrell knew that 1,000 frames per second could yield incredible slow motion, so he decided to start putting the $150,000 camera to the test. Over a period of 30 days, Farrell drove 20,000 miles, accumulating into what he called, ‘one of the most difficult projects I have ever attempted in my career.’
In the description on his Vimeo page, Farrell talks about the wild swings between the highs and lows he experienced during this project.
Chasing storms with a Phantom Flex4K is stressful even when things are going well. There were at least 10 days where I returned home with my tail between my legs and nothing to show after a ten hour chase and 500 miles. There were also a couple of days that I drove home with an ear to ear smile that lasted for hours.
But the difficulties weren’t just in the field. Farrell learned that lightning isn’t always as it seems, and even after the fact can be difficult to translate into a video.
Lightning is like a snowflake. Every bolt is different. I learned that lightning varies greatly in speed. There are some incredible looking bolts that I captured that didn’t make the cut because even at 1000fps they only lasted for one frame during playback. I also captured some lightning that appear computer generated it lasted so long on the screen.
With all of the trials and difficulties, it’s obvious that this project was a great success, as Farrell has captured the beauty of lightning in a way not many had before. We can only hope that his inspiration to show us the dramatic side of lightning lasts through the 2018 storm season.