Mike Olbinski had a mission: to capture a time-lapse shot of a tornado. The passionate storm chaser set out earlier this spring, spending 18 days between April 15 and June 15 to shoot over 60,000 frames across nine states. He traveled 20,000 miles in total, a journey which resulted in Vorticity, a six-minute time-lapse video that reveals the stunning power and majesty of Mother Nature.
As luck would have it, Olbinski achieved his goal of shooting a tornado on his first day out, while in the Texas panhandle. He would go on to capture five more in Oklahoma and Colorado.
The tornado that appears at the end of the film “was one of the most surreal moments of my life,” Olbinski writes on Vimeo. “I was so focused on keeping up with the storm that day, that I barely realized that I had captured what I’d been working so hard to get.”
Olbinski’s journey was filled with sleepless nights and long hauls. One day, he even drove all night after photographing a wedding to chase more storms. Despite his best efforts, he says he missed many epic moments, but also that some of his favorite shots came from what he considered to be marginal days.
When thinking back on the project, wondering if all the blood, sweat, and tears were worth it, he states confidently, “Heck yeah it was.”
On the the technical front, Olbinski created the time lapse using the Canon EOS-5DSR. This allowed him to capture incredibly detailed stills that he edited together as a video in post production. Scaling down from the Canon’s 50-megapixel resolution, he produced both 4K and 8K versions of the finished video (4K is the highest resolution available on Vimeo). He believes it is the first time a tornado has been captured in 8K, although he can’t say for sure.
The full video can be seen above. For more of Olbinski’s work, head over to his Vimeo channel.