When Phoenix-based photographer Mike Olbinski sent me his shots and a video (you’ve probably seen it, as its been making the media rounds) of Tuesday night’s massive haboob, my jaw dropped yet again — not only do I live blocks from where his images were taken, I didn’t realize the enormity of this thing until the next day….. OK, to be fair, I did see the dust and dirt flying by, but I was trying to finish up a story for our upcoming October issue.
Mike has graciously offered to share his some of his dramatic images with us. I also asked him a few questions about how he captured this beast of a haboob. Our mini Q&A is below:
Where were you that you were able to capture this shot?
I was at a parking garage near 7th Street and McDowell — a little place I love to visit from time to time to get shots of downtown Phoenix.
How did you prepare for the shot?
I was actually shooting a timelapse of the sunset in my backyard when I started getting texts from friends about the impending haboob. So I packed up and drove a half-mile to the parking garage to setup. I have a Canon 5D Mark II. I set it to fire off a shot every 5 seconds; then, towards the end, I lowered it to every 2 seconds.
Did you know we were going to have some fierce weather?
I had no idea it would be like that, but I’m a monsoon stormchaser during the summer, so I knew there was going to be some weather that night. The storms coming from Tucson looked pretty amazing, so I was hoping they’d roll into town. Funny thing was, I had been out chasing for the last 3-4 days, so I was taking a break that night. Glad I ended up getting out anyways!
What went through your mind as you snapped away?
I wish I had more cameras. I wish I had a wider lens. I wish I could freeze time so I could look at this giant wall of cloud for a long time. I’m an Arizona native of 35 years and have never seen anything like this.
What made this shot so special?
Well, for me, I love the contrast of the massive wall of clouds against the dwarfed city skyline. It really makes you understand how big nature is and how small we really are.