Toby Harriman is quickly becoming one of my favorite timelapsers (he and Michael Shainblum are killing it). He’s the kind of guy who makes me claw at my windows, wishing I was traveling instead of being chained to a desk. And you know, that’s a good thing. We need people to remind us what the world looks like beyond the familiar walls, and that’s something at which Toby is really becoming an artist. His latest video, Chasing Weather, is a combination of clips taken in Alaska, California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Chicago and Hawaii. It’s heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
“When it comes to timelapsing, and even photography in general, I always find myself going after the moody weather. Think cloud filled skies,” Toby told us. “When people ask me if I am going to go shoot, I will look outside and if i see blue skies, I am usually unmotivated. I guess thats why I found myself putting together this montage of some of my favorite weather-filled shots. Perfect weather is boring. I like drama.”
Toby uses a lot of equipment, as you can imagine, to produce these projects. “I used a Canon 6D and 5D Mark III with a 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and 70-200mm f/4 L. These tend to be my cameras of choice when it comes to timelapsing. I use the Rhino EVO Motion Controlled slider with a eMotimo TB3 for 3-axis motion control when the shots call for it,” he continued. “I love the Rhino and its simplicity and light weight appeal. I went backpacking for 8 weeks this past summer in Alaska, and a few of the shots I got there are featured in ‘Chasing Weather.’ It was crucial that I cut back on everything, gear-wise, due to the nature of backpacking. Weight was a big issue. The Rhino EVO solution is hard to beat with that, which is why I use it so much.”
“For stills I used to use the same Canon equipment I mentioned, but lately I’ve swiched to the Pentax 645z for my still work. It’s a great camera and I absolutely love the results it gives me.”
“I feel this piece represents a little bit of my current life,” Toby said about his video. “It may not have a story and may be all over the place, but to me, that is how I am living at the moment.” Toby has made a habit of doing just enough work locally to pay the bills and save up for a trip, and then he’s gone. He spends most of his time wandering the globe, taking amazing photos and putting together these timelapse projects. “I grew up in the mountains of Aspen, Colorado and now am living in the city of San Francisco. A lot of people I talk to either like one or the other, the city or living in nature like Colorado. I guess I fell in love with both. Which is one of the very reasons I love San Francisco so much, it happens to have the best of both worlds.”
When trying to get amazing images and capturing dramatic weather, you kind of have to be willing to put yourself directly in the “line of fire” so to speak with Mother Nature. Toby’s recent trips have been no exception, and he’s had to be ready for a wide array of weather situations and temperature swings. We asked him what situation stuck out in his mind the most, and he was happy to share. “With the Alaska fog spots, my biggest issue is that it never got dark,” Toby told us. “I could have shots for hours and hours and the light would have stayed the same, which is super unusual and something I wasn’t used to seeing.”
“With the storm chasing it was hard to timelapse, or get a long enough shot. As you can imagine, everything happens so fast and can get really dangerous,” he explained. “One second you are racing down the road trying to get a better shot of the supercell, and when you do you barely have any time before you are racing to get out of the way or to the next view before its gone. Not to mention the wind and hail you can get!”
“When I was doing the ice cave shot (the one at the top of this article with the slider in the frame), it kind of occurred to me that it was a shot I shouldn’t have done, and looking back on it I definitely don’t recommend it,” Toby warned. “Every few days, or at any second really, the edge will continue to calve off and break and that can kill you. I took caution, set up my shot and got out while my camera was still taking images. I’d rather lose a camera then risk killing myself!”
All images used with permission from the artist.
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