A timelapse of a supercell beautifully captures the anger of nature.

"It took four years," Mike Olbinski writes, "but I finally got it."

What he got, in this case, was an amazing -- and, quite literally, awesome -- timelapse of a supercell: a rotating thunderstorm that is almost, but not quite, a tornado. The storm here was "not just a rotating supercell," Olbinski notes, "but one with insane structure and amazing movement."

This particular storm occurred in Texas -- near the town of Booker, in the northeasternmost corner of the state. Olbinski, a wedding photographer and part-time storm chaser, has been visiting the Central Plains, he says, since 2010. And on his fourth trip to the region, he came upon the storm.

Here's how Olbinski turned "raging storm" into "numinous video":

We chased this storm from the wrong side (north) and it took us going through hail and torrential rains to burst through on the south side. And when we did ... this monster cloud was hanging over Texas and rotating like something out of Close Encounters.

The timelapse was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II with a Rokinon 14mm 2.8 lens. It's broken up into four parts. The first section ends because it started pouring on us. We should have been further south when we started filming but you never know how long these things will last, so I started the timelapse as soon as I could.

One thing to note early on in the first part is the way the rain is coming down on the right and actually being sucked back into the rotation. Amazing.

A few miles south is where part two picks up. And I didn't realize how fast it was moving south, so part three is just me panning the camera to the left. During that third part you can see dust along the cornfield being pulled into the storm as well...part of the strong inflow.

The final part is when the storm had started dying out and we shot lightning as it passed over us.

Between the third and fourth portions we drove through Booker, Texas where tornado sirens were going off ... it was creepy as all heck. And intense.

What's amazing, though, is how Olbinski's medium has transformed the storm into something whose creepiness -- and even whose intensity -- are easy to forget. A storm in proximity is much different from a storm seen through the comforting distance of a lens and a laptop; through Olbinski's rendering, with help from Kevin MacLeod's score, the supercell becomes an object of aesthetic wonder. You have to remind yourself that, to people who lack the luxury of a screen, a storm like this is not merely wondrous. It is also terrifying.

For more work by Mike Olbinski, visit http://www.mikeolbinski.com/.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo collage of 2020 presidential candidates.
    Equity

    Will Housing Swing the 2020 Election?

    Among Democratic candidates for president, the politics of America’s housing affordability crisis are getting complicated. Just wait until Trump barges in.

  2. A photo of an abandoned building in Newark, New Jersey.
    Equity

    The 10 Cities Getting a Philanthropic Boost for Economic Mobility

    An initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ballmer Group focuses on building “pipelines of opportunity.”

  3. A person tapes an eviction notice to the door of an apartment.
    Equity

    Why Landlords File for Eviction (Hint: It’s Usually Not to Evict)

    Most of the time, a new study finds, landlords file for eviction because it tilts the power dynamic in their favor—not because they want to eject their tenants.

  4. a photo of Denver city council member Candi CdeBaca
    Transportation

    A Freeway Fight Launched Denver’s New Queer Latina Councilmember

    In a progressive shake-up, 32-year-old community organizer Candi CdeBaca will take her advocacy work to the city council.  

  5. At an NBA game, a player attempts to block a player from the rival team who has the ball.
    Life

    NBA Free Agents Cluster in Superstar Cities, Too

    Pro basketball follows the winner-take-all geography of America as a whole, with free agents gravitating to New York, L.A., and other big cities.

×