By Amanda Stringfellow @amanda_l_s
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Videographer / Director: Mike Olbinski
Producer: Rebecca Lewis, Nick Johnson
Editor: Kyle Waters
Mike spends almost all his free-time photographing extreme weather formations such as vast super cell thunderstorms and lightning strikes - often travelling hundreds of miles in a single day.
The 40-year-old has been fascinated by storms since he was a child and has progressed from photographing lightning in his back garden to become a professional storm photographer.
This year, the father-of-three, from Phoenix, Arizona, USA, spent two weeks on the plains of Arizona, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and California - capturing incredible time-lapse footage of Mother Nature in action.
Dodging dangers such as tennis ball sized hailstones and treacherously strong winds, he succeeded in revealing the beauty behind the potentially life-threatening weather patterns.
Mike said: “When I started getting into photography I realised people were chasing storms and I had no idea that people did that.
“I realised I don’t have to wait for a storm to come to my house - I could actually go out after it and improve my chance of getting good photographs.
“This year my goal was to make my time-lapse film, called ‘The Chase’.”
Having dedicated a full week to storm chasing the previous year, Mike knew that his new project would require a greater time commitment.
“I really wanted to do the best job I could so I knew I needed to spend as much time out on the plains as I could,” he said.
“Last year I was out on the plains for seven days, and this year it was 14.”
And the photographer’s persistence was rewarded by a series of stunning extreme weather shots caught on camera.
A super cell in Canadian Texas provided Mike with his first breath-taking extreme weather moment of the project.
Mike said: “This beautiful super cell just kind of formed.
“We were on it from the beginning, we saw it go up, we got near it, we waited - and all of a sudden it started rotating.
“A little needle funnel started coming down and the whole cloud was rotating. I couldn’t be happier to get something like that on time-lapse.”
Another highlight was a storm Mike and his team chased down in western Texas near New Mexico.
“As we were racing towards the storm the sun is going down and there’s this line of rain in front of us - so the sun had backlit the storms and the rain," he said.
“We finally get close to the storm and it was a beautiful super cell with crazy purples and yellows and lightning.
“It was one of those surreal moment where you know if you come back the next day it would look like a blurring farm field - but at that moment you felt like you were on another planet.”
Despite the incredible sights, Mike never gets too caught up in the moment to realise the dangers storm chasing can pose.
“There are a lot of dangers, there’s tornados there’s really strong winds there’s huge hail that can damage your car,” he said.
“If you’re standing outside and get hit on the head with a tennis ball size hail stone - that can mess you up.
“That’s why we study, we learn, we practice, we take precautions.
“We watch radar, know where we are with escape routes on roads and are constantly aware of our surroundings.”
But tracking the most violent hurricanes and tornadoes in the USA does have its rewards.
Mike said: “The best part about being a storm chaser is this utter freedom that you have. You find the storm, you chase it - you see such beautiful amazing things.
“A huge super cell over the plains with crazy structure and lightning striking or a tornado that’s just hovering out in the distance. You’re almost euphoric when you see a storm that just blows your mind.”