Storms and Saguaros Workshop
Aug 9-13, 2024 - Sold Out!
Join us for several exhilarating days chasing storms across the Desert Southwest! Monsoon season provides dramatic light, lightning, rainbows, and big clouds. You'll learn how to read the weather models, follow the radar, and position yourself for the best shots. With a small group of only 8 photographers, you'll learn weather forecasting and photography skills from both David Swindler and Mike Olbinski. Mike is an Emmy-winning storm photographer who has been chasing for over 14 years. We will ensure you get the best shots of these incredible storms with a strong emphasis on safety.
- Photograph the Southwest during the height of the monsoon season. Expect big storms, lightning and dramatic light!
- Join Emmy-winning photographer Mike Olbsinski along with David Swindler in search of the best storms.
- The itinerary is kept flexible so we can take advantage of everything mother nature throws at us. We'll follow the storms even if it means driving some long distances!
- You will learn how to read the weather models, how to follow the best storms, and how to get in proper position to capture incredible images.
- Small group of 8 photographers means plenty of individual attention.
- Image critique and post-processing session(s) will be scheduled throughout the workshop.
The itinerary is being kept flexible to account for weather and current conditions. This is a storm chasing workshop, so we're focused on capturing the most dramatic storms wherever they may be. This itinerary is only meant to give you an idea of what we could be doing each day.
- Day 1 - Aug 9: Meet at 1PM for a mandatory orientation session in Tucson, AZ. We'll go over many techniques for photographing storms and how we forecast and plan for the weather. After we're done, we notice a cell of storms west of town. We find some nice saguaros and capture daytime lightning shots along with a dramatic sunset.
- Day 2 - Aug 10: We meet back up mid-morning for a post-processing session. After lunch, the wind patterns are indicative of a dust storm to the northwest. We hurry out there and photograph some intense haboob activity. We stay out until nearly midnight since the lightning keeps on coming!
- Day 3 - Aug 11: We meet for another classroom session where you'll learn additional storm chasing techniques. From there, we take a few of your photos and show you our favorite post-processing techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop. The temps are cooler today and there isn't as much storm activity so we head to an area with great views and lots of saguaros. After dark, we head up into the mountains for some night photography!
- Day 4 - Aug 12: Today we start out with an image critique session and teach some post-processing skills. Then we notice a storm that's developing to the south so we strategically place ourselves to the side of the storm's path. We capture insane shelf clouds and many lightning bolts! As the rain begins, we drive off and find several other storms to photograph. We return to Tucson well after dark.
- Day 5 - Aug 13: Departure day. We may be out really late the night before so you will likely want to sleep in. You can plan your return travel for anytime today.
Please arrive in Tucson, AZ prior to 1PM on Day 1 for an orientation session. Our central meeting place will be in the Tucson Williams Center area and there are quite a few different hotels there. We will contact all participants with our lodging arrangements when we're about 6 months out. If you choose to stay somewhere else, you will need your own transportation to get to the meeting point. Transportation is provided for all workshop outings.
All participants on this trip should be in reasonably good physical condition with good mobility. With storms, we need to be able to deploy our gear and pack up quickly. This workshop is rated Easy for physical intensity as there won't be much hiking involved.
We timed this workshop for the best chance of monsoon storms and dramatic clouds. We can't control the weather, but will certainly make the best of what Mother Nature throws at us. If the storms aren't as active, we'll focus more on landscape and or night photography.
You may experience many different kinds of weather in August. Expect very hot temperatures, especially in the afternoon. If storms come in, lots of rain can fall and the temperatures will cool dramatically. See the gear list further down for specific recommendations on what to bring.
Capturing daytime lightning requires a lightning trigger with a cable that is specific to your camera. The trigger is not needed for shooting lightning at dusk or at night. With lightning triggers, you get what you pay for. Cheap triggers will almost always deliver poor results. Please see our recommendations in the Gear Section below.
We never know how late we'll be out when we're storm chasing. So Aug 13th is our departure day, giving you time to sleep in if we don't finish until the wee hours of the morning. Lodging is not included in the workshop fee, giving you the flexibility to stay where you want.
$2195/person + Tax
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- 5-Day Intensive Photo Workshop with 2 Pro Instructors.
- All ground transportation and photography guiding.
- Daily classroom sessions covering topics such as reading weather models, forecasting, planning, and photo techniques.
- Post-processing and image critique.
Trip Does NOT Include:
- Transportation to/from your home to Tucson, AZ.
- Hotel Accommodations.
- Alcoholic Beverages.
- Meals and snacks.
- Instructor Gratuities.
When you complete the checkout process, you will be given the option to either pay the full amount or put down a 50% deposit. If you pay the deposit, the remaining amount will be charged 90-days prior to the trip to the credit card we have on file.
Recommended Camera Gear
- Sturdy tripod and ballhead
- Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera Body.
- Wide Angle Zoom Lens (16-35mm on full frame).
- Mid-range zoom lens in the range of 24-100mm.
- Telephoto lenses are optional but may come in handy for distant storms and cloud patterns.
- Bring a circular polarizer filter and or 3-stop ND filter for your wide angle and mid-range zoom lenses.
- Lightning trigger. We recommend the Lightning Trigger Brand LT-IV for best results.
- Extra batteries for your camera and lightning trigger along with extra memory cards.
- A blower and micro-fiber cloth for cleaning.
- Remote cord for your camera. We recommend a remote where you can lock down the button for back-to-back exposures.
- Backpack or case for your gear.
- When it starts raining, we will be packing up. Bring your lens hoods to help keep droplets off your lens!
- Laptop if you wish to backup or edit your photos.
Personal Gear List
- Sturdy footwear, hiking socks, and long pants.
- A rain jacket since it can get cold when storms roll in.
- Headlamp for when we are out at night.
- Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Sun Hat
- Water bottle.
Mike is an Emmy-winning photographer and filmmaker based out of Phoenix, Arizona and has been chasing the monsoon across the desert southwest for nearly 14 years. Born and raised in the state, storms were fascinating to him and a small child and it wasn't until his early 30s that he realized his passion for capturing storms on camera and sharing those images with the world. His time-lapse work has been licensed by most major brands across the globe and he routinely collaborates with the BBC, National Geographic and more.
Founder - Photography Instructor
David Swindler is an award-winning landscape and wildlife photographer. Among others, he has been recognized by the International Photography Awards, Siena International Photo Awards, Sony World Photography Awards, International Landscape Photographer of the Year, and National Geographic. He received a degree in chemical engineering and worked in the semiconductor industry specializing in optics and photolithography. In 2014, he left his day job to follow his true passion. He has traveled to some of the most remote regions of the world and has extensive experience photographing a wide variety of subjects and conditions. As the founder of Action Photo Tours, he finds great satisfaction in helping others learn photography, especially in the wild desert environment near his home in Kanab, UT. David is an expert in night photography and loves to get out and shoot the starry night skies.
Having guided photo tours for years, David is very familiar with many different types of cameras. He is a master with light and composition. But most importantly, his dedication to his clients is what really sets him apart! But don't take our word for it - read what others are saying: Trip Advisor.
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