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Hunting for peace in stormy weather

Most storm chasers do it for the adrenaline rush.

Mitch Dobrowner has the opposite reaction. His most peaceful moments are when he's on the fringes of supercell thunderstorms hovering over the pancake-flat landscapes of the American West.

"There's something about standing out in inclement weather with no one around," Dobrowner said. "I can hear my heart beat again."

Dobrowner is a landscape photographer. His high-contrast images show powerful storms fueled by the heat of summer  towering menacingly over the desert and the plains, but they also communicate a certain serenity.

To find the storms, Dobrowner and his expert storm chasing buddy meet up for two to three weeks in South Dakota and rove through the midwest.

Other times, when there's a particularly epic storm brewing, Dobrowner will drop everything in his Los Angeles life to fly into the heart of the storm.

"I would be miserable if I stayed at home," Dobrowner said. "My wife is an artist too so she's happy to see me go. She gets it."

Dobrowner didn't always have the luxury of leaving domestic life behind. For most of his adult life, Dobrowner ran an image design company with his wife and raised three children.

But he never totally let go of his love for photography, which he developed as a teen when his father gave him a camera.

Back then, Dobrowner pored through books by Ansel Adams and soon took off on a road trip from his native Long Island to California.

"I was on the 405 and just pulled off into Van Nuys," Dobrowner said. "I saw a vacancy sign at an apartment, plopped down some cash and was there for six months without really even knowing where Van Nuys was."

During those days, he was into experimental photography and infrared images. His work got picked up in a few exhibits and written up in photography magazines.

In 2005, after concentrating on his business and family, Dobrowner was invited out to Death Valley to watch a massive storm sweep through. Ever since then, he's been hooked.

'"My jaw dropped when I saw what was out there," Dobrowner said.

You can see Dobrowner's jaw dropping images at Kopeiken Gallery from September 7th - October 26th.

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