Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I had intended to take some photos at a classic car rally last evening, but when I spotted unusual looking clouds over Lake Michigan, I decided to head instead for nearby Virmond Park on the bluff overlooking the lake to see if I could get a few shots.  As I was walking toward the bluff, another man with a camera who was just leaving commented, "Great clouds!" I may have been a little late to the show, but the clouds were still interesting enough, I thought, to post a few here.

The sky was quite overcast, and, although sundown was still 90 minutes away, it was fairly dark.  Originally, I set my aperture at f/8 at an ISO of 100.  That translated to an exposure of 1/13 second.  Pretty slow, and I was concerned about blur both from camera shake and from movement of the clouds, which were scudding right along in a strong wind.

This first shot turned out OK, but I decided to open the aperture a bit to f/6.3 and to increase the ISO to 200.  I also sensed that I would want to darken the shot some, so I set the camera to underexpose the shot 2/3 f-stops.  All of that increased the shutter speed to 1/80 second, which was clearly in the acceptable range for handheld.  Here are two more shots that I took at those settings.

I took all three of these shots within a two-minute period.  Not very long, but the sky was changing fairly rapidly.  Even so, I didn't think the particular formation I was shooting was going to change significantly, so I wrapped it up.  It's difficult to spot, but there is a bird visible in the last shot, about 1/3 of the way from the right side and in a bright area fairly near the top.

White balance was also a bit of an issue.  I always shoot RAW, so color choices are theoretically just a matter of post processing.  Even so, my setting of "cloudy" didn't seem quite right when I downloaded the files to my computer.  I played around with white balance in post processing and finally settled on "auto" as coming close enough to what I remembered.  Maybe it's not quite right, but it looks interesting.   Also, for the record, I increased the contrast and further underexposed the shots in post processing.  I think it improved their dramatic quality.

I decided to convert the shots to black & whites also, and here those are.

These, I think, are interesting, but the color, even though there wasn't much of it, just seemed to add something.  There is a fair amount of noise in these images, despite the fact that the ISO settings were at 100 or 200.  I think the culprit was the waning illumination from the overcast evening light.

One final comment: Ideally, I would have liked to have incorporated a foreground element to provide some context.  That didn't work at Virmond Park.  Next time I might try Concordia University.


1 comment:

  1. I like the color ones also John.