By Laura Dale
While most people head for cover at the first sign of a storm this man runs straight towards it.
Storm chaser and father-of-three, Mike Olbinski, is addicted to photographing extreme weather and regularly takes on tornadoes and supercell thunderstorms in a bid to capture extraordinary images.
The photographer, from Phoenix, Arizona, will often travel hundreds of miles a day to reach the eye of a storm and first became hooked on the unusual hobby almost a decade ago following the birth of his daughter.
He said: “I’ve been in love with storms and weather for as long as I can remember.
“I grew up in Arizona and our summer monsoon thunderstorms were always glorious with heavy rains and lightning. I’d sit on the back porch with my dad watching the storms, or sitting up late with my brother looking out our windows.
“I’ve always enjoyed storms and as life went on, I got addicted to watching radar and praying for storms to hit my house or wherever I happened to be.
“Around the time my daughter was born, 2008, I had become obsessed with looking at lightning photography.
“I took my point-and-shoot outside during a storm one day and caught a couple of really bad images of lightning.
“My third time out, however, I captured a crazy good lightning strike and I was hooked.
“When I’m out chasing tornadoes and supercells, those are the monster storms that really get you pumped.
“I’ve been on storms the moment that they erupt from a mostly blue sky to a monster supercell in under an hour.
“The excitement at watching the birth of a storm and then chasing it for up to 100 miles is just more than words can describe sometimes.
“It’s what I live for.”
“For me as a photographer, I like to be close, but I also need to stay out of the rain and craziness to capture what I’m after. So usually I’m not right in the major danger path.
“But I have been caught in a severe hail storm that blasted my truck with 70mph wind and golf ball sized stones with zero visibility.
“I’ve been in the path of oncoming tornadoes. I try to be safe though. As a father of three kids, I want to get home to them afterwards and that’s always on my mind.”