The Weather of Arizona – A Time Lapse Film

The Weather of Arizona – A Time Lapse Film

This film is a collection of several time lapses captured during all four seasons of the year in Arizona. My goal for the film was to showcase the dynamic/contrasting weather that one can experience in this state.


Last year I spent a decent amount of time working on my film “Why I Chase | The Arizona Monsoon.”  This film was more of a personal journey answering the simple question of “Why I Chase.” However, there is another question I’m softened asked.  That question is “what do I chase?”

Many times when I’m outside the state of Arizona, I find myself being asked that question.  “So what kind of weather can you chase and seriously you can find something nearly year round?”

As you may imagine, I get very passionate about this topic, but the answer isn’t always that easy.  So to better explain myself, I decided I’d develop a film in an attempt to show people in less than there is plenty of weather to see in Arizona year round.

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Why I Chase | The Arizona Monsoon

Why I Chase | The Arizona Monsoon

A documentary film highlighting my last 5 years of storm chasing in Arizona.  This film takes you on a personal journey of how I went from pilot to storm chaser.  It also highlights the passion I have for Arizona’s landscapes and weather.


I am often asked “Why did you make this film?  What inspired you?”  Truth be told, I needed a goal.  I needed something to work hard towards.  In a way I was raising the bar for myself.  I wanted to take my work from where it was comfortable, to a place I had never gone.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills

-John F Kennedy | Moon Speech | September 12th, 1962

I chose to do this film, not because it would be easy, but because it would be hard.  In many ways, the film was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It challenged everything I knew about filmmaking, and required me to learn a lot along the way.

There were many times that I thought this project was simply not meant to be.  At one point, I had lost my entire project (hard drive crash) and wasn’t sure if I had the emotional strength to start the whole thing over.   Thankfully, I was able to salvage some of what I had in the beginning and slowly piece it back together.  By nature I’m not a quitter; instead, I like to think of myself as someone who finds a way to finish.

In the spring of 2015, I officially decided I wanted to do this project.  I told myself, “you are going to make a 22:30 minute film.  I wanted to take everything I had done the last few years and turn them into a captivating story that featured all my work.

I have produced several time-lapse films and mini-documentaries.  While I’m very proud of them, for some reason I was left feeling like I had a lot more potential.  After toying with the idea, I decided that setting this massive goal was the only way I was going to force myself to do it.

Don’t ever count yourself out.  You’ll never known how good you are unless you try. Dream the impossible and go out and make it happen.  I walked on the moon.  What can’t you do?

– Eugene Cernan | Nasa Astronaut | From the film “The Last Man on the Moon”

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Lightning Photography | Skill or Just Plain Luck?

The Raw Story Behind Lightning Photography

By Bryan Snider | Weather Photography | Storm Chaser

Lightning is one the most mysterious gems found in mother nature.  Very little is known about it, and yet many people are naturally fascinated by its beauty and power.  I’m no exception.

As a child, growing up on the edge of tornado alley I saw my fair share of beautiful lightning storms.  It wasn’t until I was just out of high school that I began to try and photograph lightning.  In 2005, armed with my Canon point-and-shoot, (5 megapixel camera), I captured my first lightning strike.  I knew very little about the skill involved and frankly I got pretty lucky to even capture a bolt.  However, that one bolt was life changing! It sparked a passion that pushed me to develop then necessary skills to photograph lightning on completely new level.

Lightning strikes the mountains near Interstate 17 in the Verde Valley of central Arizona

“Verde Valley Lightning” | Purchase Canvas or Print

Just a few days ago, a very popular photographer / travel blogger Trey Ratcliff (from wrote the blog post (“Stormchasing In Guilin, China”) that sent the storm chasing community well into the Stratosphere!

Don’t let the title fool you.  It was the sub heading “Fake Lightning Shots” and the arrogance in the blog that really sent the chasing community into anticyclonic rotation. (pardon the weather humor). But I gave Trey the benefit of doubt.  His title was attention getting, and I didn’t want to jump to conclusions.

So what really broke the cap in the chasing community?

Honestly it was the whole article in general. I read it several times. I seriously tried to give Trey the benefit of the doubt, but his words made it very difficult.  Trey was pretty bold and made several storm photographers (including myself) feel like all our amazing photographs were likely “fake” and required little to no skill to capture them.  Like many chasers, I was blown away by these statements. Personally I have intercepted and photographed some amazing storms (not by luck), and I can assure you my images are not fake.  These images took quite a bit of skill to get them and that isn’t something you can learn, nor did I over night.

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The Incredible Weather of Arizona

The Incredible Weather of Arizona

“A Personal Story of Arizona Monsoon 2014”

The Incredible Weather of Arizona from Bryan Snider on Vimeo.

Each of the past two summers I’ve created an end of the year monsoon season film.  In 2012, I created a film titled “In Motion.”  It highlighted a collection of time lapses that I had captured over the year mainly from the 2012 monsoon season.  While I was very proud of this film at the time, it still had something missing.

In 2013, I thought I found the solution I needed to make a film that I was going to be really proud of.  I thought that I needed to chase even harder, more aggressively, and more miles.   In fact in 2013, I travelled over 10,000 miles across Arizona capturing some of the best weather images and time lapses I had ever taken.  Yet, as I came into 2014, I still felt like my final product was missing something.

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WHOA Airplanes!

40 Minutes of Airplanes at Phoenix Sky Harbor

Sometimes as a photographer, I find myself wanting to tell a story in a single image.  However, telling the story in a single image isn’t as easy as it may look.  About a year or so ago, I shared an image called, “The Rhythm of the Urban Sky.”  In this image, my goal was to capture a landscape that showed how busy the skies were above Phoenix were.  While this made for a really cool light trails shot, you didn’t see the airplanes themselves.

A multiplicity photo of airplanes taking off from Phoenix Sky Harbor

“WHOA Airplanes!” Buy Print Buy Canvas License this Image

This image is the result of nearly 40 minutes of airplane spotting at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.  I took approximately 30 photographs, mainly when an airplane was taking off.  Some photographs have more then one airplane in the shot, while others were just a single airplane.  Each image was captured with the exact same composition thanks to placing my camera on a tripod.

While you see several airplanes in the photograph, not all were used.  The reasoning behind this is simple.  Believe it or not, I had a few airplanes that right on top of the other.  So I had to chose which one I wanted to see, because one hid the other.  I also had more airplanes on the ground taxing to chose from, but because of the complexity, I only kept a few.

Finally, as a pilot myself, I can’t help but notice how the image tells the story and complexity of an airplane take off.  Contrary to popular belief, a bigger airplane doesn’t always need “more runway” to take off.  There are a lot more factors involved including destination (how much fuel is onboard), passengers, engine power, and weather.  If you look closely, some of the biggest airplanes I captured are on the top left which means they used less runway then the airplanes that are on the bottom right.  In fact, one of the smallest airplanes captured is the US Airway Express CRJ-900 about half way up and to the right of Air Traffic Control Tower.

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