Go cloud spot­ting

A lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of how the weather can change in your en­vi­ron­ment can go a long way

NPhoto - - Road Trip -

Whether it’s be­ing aware of the pre­dictable weather pat­terns of some­where flat like Florida, or the un­pre­dictable na­ture of the moun­tain­ous high­lands of Scot­land, know­ing what might come next tells you if you should stay put and keep shoot­ing or cut your losses and move on.

Wak­ing up with the sun gave a nat­u­ral rhythm to my pho­to­graphic days in the high­lands, and I felt more alert and more able to think clearly. That was cru­cial to cre­at­ing this shot. From atop the Quiraing, I no­ticed a thick veil of mist form­ing over the sea in the dis­tance. It had been cold but clear overnight, and the mist was thick­en­ing as the sun rose. Judg­ing from the fore­cast, which was erring on the side of bright sun­shine all day, I pre­sumed the mist would burn off part-way into the morn­ing. I knew that I didn’t have all day to cap­ture the mist, but I still had a few hours, so I set up my Nikon on a tri­pod and started with a tight crop on the mist, look­ing sea­wards at 70mm on my 2470mm f/2.8 lens. With the aper­ture and ISO con­sis­tent with the last photo, (f/11/ISO100) the only value that changed was the shut­ter speed, which was now at 1/6 sec. Af­ter rat­tling off a few frames over the space of about ten min­utes, I flicked back through the images, and no­ticed that the mist was grad­u­ally creep­ing in­land. I knew what to do next: I im­me­di­ately set up another D750 (I’m a lucky boy, I know) with a 14-24mm lens to cap­ture the big­ger scene, in ad­di­tion to my tighter crop.

No sooner had I done that than the mist crawled up the moun­tain­side. Un­sure about when the best shot might ar­rive, I de­cided to en­gage the built-in in­ter­val­ome­ter mode on this sec­ond D750 to take pho­tos for me over a pe­riod of time. (You can find this in the menu by go­ing to Shoot­ing Menu> In­ter­val Timer Shoot­ing.) I set an in­ter­val time of 5 sec­onds, and set the num­ber of shots to 300, so that my D750 would take a photo ev­ery 5 sec­onds for 300 shots. Back-of-the-en­ve­lope maths tells us that this would take 25 min­utes (5 x 300 = 1500 / 60 = 25). I knew I would flick through later on the lap­top and find ‘the one’, so I let it carry on tak­ing pho­tos while I moved around the scene with my 24-70mm. If I’d had a Nikon model which didn’t have this op­tion built-in, I could’ve just used an ex­ter­nal in­ter­val­ome­ter to do the same job.

I was so fix­ated on the mist that I for­got to look at the larger scene, but once I had one cam­era run­ning on the mist, I stopped and looked up. It was at this point that I no­ticed some awe­some al­tocu­mu­lus clouds rak­ing through the sky above. Ea­ger not to miss out on the chance to shoot both this cloud and the fog in the same shot, I zoomed out to 40mm and framed up on the ridge and road in the fore­ground (above). I sand­wiched that ridge with both clouds and got yet another shot with a feel en­tirely dif­fer­ent to the main shot above. It was light and breezy, and you could prac­ti­cally feel the sun beat­ing down on the moss-clad ground. I had to dial my shut­ter speed down to 1/80 sec be­cause it was now a lot brighter. I also used a soft, two-stop grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ter to darken the sky – with­out this I’d have lost all that lovely de­tail in the clouds. This meant I didn’t have to bracket and merge two ex­po­sures later.

the great

Set­ting your Nikon to shoot at in­ter­vals is a great way to cap­ture fog as it rolls across the land­scape

In this im­age, a two-stop grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ter with a soft tran­si­tion was used to darken the sky, and so re­tain de­tail in the clouds

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