It’s pouring rain again tonight. Lots of lightning and thunder too…awesome. Last night after the rain I noticed some clouds to the east so I shot about 20 handheld frames along the horizon. The above image was cropped from the resulting stitched panorama (probably about 10 frames worth). I did some basic contrast adjustments in Photoshop after the stitch then went back into Lightroom. I’d recently seen a very cool cloud/lightning image done in black and white and decided to go that route with this one. I used the channel mixer in Lightroom to adjust the image to taste. In very rough terms that meant darkening the blues and brightening the reds.
Finally some rain in Austin. I grabbed a bunch of shots of my son playing in the rain but I decided to post some faceless, could-be-any-young-boy pictures. I’m sure that many children in Austin took advantage of the rain to do what boys like to do – splash in the water in mud. For a time there was some nasty lightning so I had to have the kids come under the cover of the porch for a while. Fortunately the lightning cleared up and much fun was had again.
The black and white shot was processed in Lightroom — simply playing with sliders until I liked it. I brought the color shot into Photoshop and put a little more work into it. I cloned out a few things and used a series of curves and some sharpening in an attempt to enhance the falling rain and the drops rolling off the raincoat. I’d like the falling rain to stand out a bit more but simply did not want to put more work into it (things are busy around here). The clouds were thick and there was very little light so I cranked up the ISO for these shots. There isn’t that much noise in the shots but what little there was I decided to keep and didn’t use any noise reduction.
My daughter happened to notice this cloud the other night and called me out to take a pic. If I had noticed the storm building up I might have chronicled its development a bit more.
The shot was taken from the end of my driveway (same spot as this one). The exposure was chosen to expose the brightest portion of the cloud as far as I could without blowing out anything. In hindsight I’d stop down to f/8 and bump up the ISO to compensate. Even though I was on a tripod I wanted a fast-ish shutter speed because I was in the bed of my truck (to get a bit of clearance over the trees) and the suspension was moving around with the gusting wind. Processing was some clarity and curves.
Mike Connell has a better shot of this cloud taken from a different angle here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mdconnell/5763584527/
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork”. That’s about all there is to say about an awesome sky like this.
Had dinner with some friends tonight and when I got home this was the view from my driveway. I snapped some photos as the sun went down but mostly just stood and watched as this cloud billowed and tumbled and whatever else clouds do. It changed rapidly. The processing on this photo was simple: Selected a preset I had in Lightroom which mostly adjusted clarity, contrast and brightness, used three curves layers in Photoshop to tweak some areas, reduced noise, sharpened slighty, and blended in at 50%-ish opacity a layer which had been run through Topaz Adjust’s “Exposure Correction” filter.
[Updates: An additional note in response to some questions I got. I first shot this with a Canon 50D and a Sigma 10-20mm lens. I made that choice simply based on the availability of the 10mm focal length (24mm is the widest I have for my 5D — equivalent to 15mm-ish on the 50D). I also shot this with the full-frame Canon 5D Mark ii to see if I could *really* bring out some sharp detail in the clouds with the slightly higher resolution. In the end I chose a 16mm shot from the 50D. This cloud was changing by the second and the choice of which frame to process was based solely on the shape and color of the cloud in the frame and not at all on the focal length or which camera was used. With regards to exposure, I was bracketing around the hairy edge of where the brightest highlights of the cloud *almost* were blown out.
Also, see this cool capture by DJ Schulte which adds a great foreground element. I tried to find something interesting at my place but didn’t find anything compelling enough to include in the shot. I decided the cloud itself was worth the shot anyway.]