The weather lately has made it rather difficult for me to get out and do much in the way of photography. We have been hit by a winter storm that dumped about 10 inches of snow and ice which looked pretty, but made travel difficult, and also introduced new chores at home...namely shoveling the driveway. With several days of that behind me, it was time to start looking at the weather for a good sky. I was rather disappointed that when the snow was over, we transitioned immediately to sunny skies with no visual interest whatsoever. On my last day off before having to go back to work, the forecast promised cloudy skies up until about lunch time. that was enough time for me to get out and hunt some targets for my camera.
I woke up nice and early, planning on heading out to Pilot Mountain, well....at least the overlook off of US 52. I had worked that view several time before and have enjoyed playing with the light trails. Today, however, I wanted to try out my 10 Stop ND filter and see what kind of movement I could record in the sky. It was an experiment more than anything. My secondary plan was to take advantage of the overcast and seek out some barns, or old cars along the roadside until it was time to get home and wash the salt off of the truck.
|This was taken after all the color had left the sky|
I started out with several minutes worth of exposures, but things were still rather dark and flat except for the light trails. I was actually finding that I had very little hope for this shoot because my cloudy skies had pretty much gone away and I was left with just a few passing puffs. I continued on in spite of this setback though. As the sun started to come up, I could tell that what clouds were in the sky were blocking the color and leaving me with very little to work with. However, there were some clouds working their way into the picture. In the name of experimentation, I grabbed my 10 stop filter and slid it in the holder. I did some quick approximations based on my current exposure and found that 7.5 minutes should work out for keeping the proper exposure with the dark filter in place. I couldn't even see through the lens at this point, so I just clicked the shutter and waited to see what happened.
|The Scenic Route|
|The Scenic Route in B&W|
As I was taking a few last exposures, that were getting into the 30 second rang, I decided that even with the dense filter, I was falling victim to the daylight more than I wanted to. It was time to move on to something else. Fortunately, while I was making these long exposures, I had been paying attention to what was going on around me. I had been watching the clouds to my right move across the sky just on the other side of a fence. I went ahead and grabbed the camera and started to slowly walk over to the other side of the parking lot. As I was about to step down from the curb, I saw what looked like standing water about two feet into the driveway. As cold as it was, I knew better than to step down without testing it first. Yep...just as I thought...black ice. Having slipped on ice before and broken a camera and lens, I was a little more cautious this time. I found a place where I could step down a little more safely and walked across the driveway. Once at the other side, I had a similar problem, and had to find an access point I could safely get up on the curb at.
I made my way to the fence and set things up. I removed the 10 stop filter and checked my composition. I was able to get a little bit of the sky and a nice tree with a collapsed house at the base using my 70-200mm. That just wasn't the composition I was seeing at the time though. I was running out of time based on how the light was changing in the clouds, but I wanted a different composition so I slapped the 24-70mm lens on with a polarizer. I checked the exposure and found that there was too much latitude for me to get a proper exposure. I needed to add an ND Grad filter, and it needed to be quick!
With my now numb fingers I got my adapter ring and started to try and thread it on the front of the polarizer. Imagine screwing a ring on another ring that rotates freely while not having any fine motor skills. Not the easiest course of action, but I was determined to get this picture. The clouds looked amazing, and I had to make my finger work just long enough to press the shutter button.
|Crisp Country Air|
|Crisp Country Air in B&W|
Shortly after taking that shot, I decided that the clouds had lost their color, and were even starting to break up even more than they had been. It was time to pack up and move on to something else. I started out looking for some more barns, but quickly found that the lighting was too harsh for that. I changed the plan and looked for some more landscapes, but could find nothing that worked with the existing lighting. After a couple of hours searching, I threw in the towel and headed home to get the trucks cleaned up for the upcoming week ahead.