Saturday, January 24, 2015

Clouds Make a Difference

The past couple of days I have made an honest attempt at one of my New Year's resolution for photography.  I have been actively trying to take more photos of sunsets.  Finding a great spot in a metropolitan area is very tough to come by.  Houses and power lines make it very difficult to get a great looking sunset.  Using a very wide angle lens does help minimize their view in your photos but if you look close enough, they are there.  Having said that, I do believe sunsets can be some of the most dramatic scenes whether you have those items in the photo or not.  The other thing that makes a great sunset are clouds.  Clouds are the difference between "wow that's a nice photo" to "HOLY CRAP that is AWESOME".  Clouds hold the color of the sun as it falls below the horizon line and the prism effect it gives on the clouds is amazing.  The sun falls causing an instant orange glow like fire over the clouds.  Sinking lower, it then turns to a lovely pink.  These are the best sunsets to capture on film or your digital sensor.  Sitting, watching the sun fall, also gives you a sense of peace.  I think that is what I most like about it.  For an amazing 15 to 20 minutes, you are witnessing something spectacular and that is tough to get in this fast paced world.

I digress.  The original focus of this post was to talk about how clouds will make a difference in your sunsets.  For the people who read my blog, visit my website, or follow me on Facebook, you have probably seen my post from the last sunset.  To capture that sunset, I observed what way the clouds were moving in the sky and set up to have the sun and clouds coming straight at me.  I wanted to add some drama to separate my sunset from others that I knew were out taking it that evening, so I attached a 10 stop neutral density filter to my lens.  This filter cuts 10 stops of light from reaching the sensor, thus giving you a much longer shutter speed.  You must use a tripod and remote release for this type of photo since the exposures can last up to 2 minutes.  Doing this allows the clouds to move in the frame and give the appearance of moment.  I tried this on the sunset last evening also, but the clouds were dissipating quickly and they weren't really moving.  I did shoot the sunset with a 6 stop neutral density filter in hopes to catch some cloud movement, but there wasn't much of any.  Additionally, the cloud photograph was taken at 12mm since the clouds were moving so rapidly and the stretched far into the frame.  The second was taken at 24mm to try and get as much of the clouds in the frame as possible.

Below is the difference between clouds in your photo and without.  So the next time you want to shoot a sunset, try for some clouds.