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Published on Dec 4, 2017
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"Transient" is a compilation of the best shots from my storm chasing adventures of summer 2017. Most of the lightning footage was captured in uncompressed raw at 1000 frames per second with our Phantom Flex4K. This summer I chased for over 30 days and traveled 20K miles. My respect and admiration for storm chasers became even stronger this year. This is one of the most difficult projects I have ever attempted in my career. On several occasions I found myself uncomfortable either mentally or physically. 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. Most of the lightning was captured in my home state of Arizona. I also spent a week in the Great Plains chasing with Chad Cowan. It was during this time that I captured a time-lapse of the massive super-cell shown twice in Transient. For some reason that damn super-cell refused to spit out a proper bolt.
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.
Technical info: The Phantom Flex4K is a camera that must be post triggered while shooting high speed. This works out well for capturing lightning because the camera is always recording and rewriting to internal ram. As soon as a bolt appears in my view finder I trigger the camera to save what has been stored in the ram. Shooting at high frame rates requires a lot of light. Therefore, I mostly used my Zeiss Otus 28, 55, and 85mm lenses wide open at f1.4. In all, I captured 10TB of data during this production.
Special thanks to Chad Cowan for many of the time-lapse shots in the video and to Mike Olbinski for the storm chasing advice and guidance.