With my head in the clouds

I tell ya it’s not easy getting any photography done with all these UEFA EURO 2008 footy matches on every night! Nothing can stop me though when the light looks to be special and after having sunshine, rain and hail storms visit us during Monday I knew it would not be dull.

I chose a spot at the end of Lake Peblinge and decided that tonight was all about the sky, forget the city. I wanted a cloudscape. Clouds are so common most people overlook their astounding beauty and their importance in a landscape shot. Like an umbrella in a studio Clouds reflect light and will light and colour your scene. Clouds are for dreamers. Enough nonsense, here’s the shot:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Tropical Cloudscape at Lake Peblinge
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I used my 17-40mm wide angle lens, but did end up using one of tighter shots at 40mm as the composition was better. I shot at f/22.0, iso50 and used a neutral density filter to cut light and be able to expose for 6 seconds maximizing colours and light. I am standing on top of the bridge (it’s more like a road that crosses the lake) “Fredensbro” and it was blowing a gale as the water demonstrates! When shooting a scene like this be very careful with the red channel, it is very easy to blow out if you just measure luminance. The Canon 5D displays an RGB histogram but if don’t have that then measure the light on the clouds and underexpose by a stop and bracket your exposure. The red channel will be at least a stop brighter than the other channels. The compressed 8bit jpeg above actually has a bit of blown red, but the original doesn’t. Blown reds are ugly, avoid them like the plague!

The clouds and colours on this evening were from another place. These are clouds on fire, tropical colours that really do not belong in cold Scandinavia and it was a mesmerizing light show. Clouds for dreamers. With my head in the clouds. Trying not to fall over.

9 Comments on “With my head in the clouds”

  1. Superb colour. Interesting comment you have about cutting the light to lengthen the exposure to intensify the colours…how does this work?

  2. Thanks everyone! Steve, the light is captured very differently at long exposures compared to short exposures. You get much more light and therefore colour if you can do a long exposure – I maxed the exposure time by using f/22, iso50 and a neutral density filter on the lens that cuts 3 stops of light.

  3. I must experiment a little with lengthening exposures (perhaps at the expense of sharpness (f22 diffraction) and convenience (ND filter)). I'd love to understand the physics of the increased colour- you say you get much more light, but in fact is it not the same amount of light which is eventually exposed on the sensor? Only its a different quality of light. I appreciate how a dimly lit scene can (more than 30mins after sundown), with long exposures (5 secs or more), 'magically' transform with colour, yet Ive never been aware yet of any real effect with brighter scenes. Time to have a go!

  4. Have a go mate and you'll see the difference! The above is actually fairly dimly lit, not much daylight left. I agree the effect will be less in broad daylight, but in dimly lit scenes it's magic as you say! The effect might be somewhat similar in broad daylight actually if one had a ND filter that stopped say 15 stops of light.

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