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Stormy Day at Garrapata

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 3 May 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


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I have always loved photographing stormy skies. You know the ones I'm talking about - the big, expansive, Cecil B. DeMille type of skies. I teach my students the same lesson I learned from studying the great Ansel Adams, "when a sky is interesting, feature it!"

A late-afternoon drive along the northern end of Garrapata State Park revealed such a sky. I pulled the car over as the rain, at least temporarily, subsided. I was working with a client and made sure she was set up and composing for these awesome clouds, then I ran back to the car and grabbed my gear.

I used my 16-35mmL lens at its widest setting and dialed my Singh-Ray slim neutral polarizer the accentuate the clouds even more. I knew the line created by the headlands in the foreground would help lead the viewer's eye through the frame, and I was not as careful as I should have been as I allowed allowed it to exit exactly out the bottom-right corner of the frame (I'll blame my brain-freeze on the nasty conditions).

After a couple of frames, the rains began to return. I tried wiping my lens down between frames but to no avail as the wind was blowing raindrops in every direction. This was one of only a handful of images I captured. Thanks to the low-contrast of the light, I was able to double-process this frame - once for the dramatic sky, and once for the foreground.

If you have been following my blog for the past week, you know my feelings regarding photographing in inclement weather. The next time the weather turns nasty, get out of your comfort zone, and get out to your favorite location. You may get a little wet, but I guarantee your images will be worth the effort.

NOTE - I am in Northern Arizona teaching a workshop this week and I am not sure if I will have time to respond to all your comments, but please leave them as I do read each and every one!

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/20 second F/16.0 ISO 200 16 mm

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