Sky Nodules

It was like the sky from Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne – the scene was encased in this envelope of cloud that reminded me of the sound proofing foam you get with the nodules looking like they would drip away in any second.

D7000 and Tokina 11-16mm (11mm) @ f16 ans 3 seconds with Lee Graduated filter (with sea spray included for free) and circular polariser.

The warm tones on the clouds were very subtle, it was a warm glow rather than a red burn and thus have tried to preserve the subtley and texture in the processing. A single frame taken to accentuate the water flow and capture one of the many sweet looking rocks at low tide whilst on the backdop of a nodular (ohh yeah.. bet ya never used that word before:) ) sky

I appreciate the comments that people leave and I welcome any suggestions, comments and improvements to my photography, they are always warmly welcomed!

43 thoughts on “Sky Nodules

  1. +Aravindhan Padmanabhan
    , first and foremost, the scene was selected due to its low dynamic range, you could quite easily capture all the highlights and shadows without any filters from this particular scene.
    However i used a Graduated filter since it does, even in these situations , give more latitude in recovering the shadows in the foreground, particularly the blacks around the rocks. I also used a polariser, this helps naturally saturate by removing reflections.
    In terms of post processing, to get to your question 🙂 I do some shadow recovery and also use a control point (nik software) on the darker areas (in this case the big rock and also the ones on the right) – i also, down the track, apply some clarity (or tonal contrast depending on software) selectively to the areas of interest, in this case the rock and weeds, this can really help it 'pop' from the screen.
    Another point, i always shoot to preserve the highlights, so in this shot I made sure the sky, particularly the warm reddish tones were not clipped on the histogram, you can usually recover more from the shadows than you can from the highlights.
    clear as mud ? let me know if i can help or clarify further !

  2. I kinda surprised myself that it actually made sense to me! That is exactly what I wanted to know. The shadows around the rock was something that I thought of but didn't ask. Thanks for going into it! As for clarity (in lightroom), I tend to go all the way and then pull it back to be acceptable. Is there a better way to select the amount of clarity required? Also, I have a circular polariser but no ND filters. About a year ago I wanted to get the big stopper for doing LE photographs but it never happened. Now I am thinking a ND grad filter might be a better choice. How many stops would be a good place to start? Sorry about the compounding questions and many thanks for your detailed explanation!!

  3. +Aravindhan Padmanabhan
    The method of dialling in clarity than backing it off until it looks acceptable is a good one – i also find its best to process a image than come back a day later and look at it fresh eyes, especially for me when editing at ungodly hours whilst providing support for some silly airline 🙂
    Regarding filters, the graduated filters are of more use i would only worry about a 3 stop one (don't get anything less than 3 stops if you buy only one filter) and maybe a 2 stop one so you can stack them if need be.
    The neutral density filters, i only have a a hoya nd8 which is 3 stops, quite useful at sunrise and sunset or for waterfalls just to get a few more seconds onto the exposure. A better option and one i will get later is a slide in ND filter probably 3 stops or more. I would say for a ND do not get anything less than 3 stops..
    I have the LEE bigstopper and the B+W ND1000 for the super long exposures, these are great, i love them for lots of reasons – means i take less pictures 🙂 and i love the way it turns a regular scene into a completely different scape! I prefer the B+W just beacuse its got a warmer cast, however it is a screw on filter whereas teh LEE is a slide in, thus the LEE is much easier to use, ie take off and compose and focus…

  4. Especially like the write up (first para) for this one mate.
    The image is of course stunning (and you know how I love big interesting foreground rocks esp with some greenery 🙂 ).
    One thing for me – I reckon it could have used a touch more space on the left so you could see the white milk flow around the left of that rock

    +Aravindhan Padmanabhan – totally agree with Gerry re the grads (first one a 3 stop hard then maybe a 2 stop hard) and also most of the processing tips (I use LR exclusively and he uses NX2/Nik/etc but the same principles apply). Probably the main difference between us is Gerry tends to underexpose his shots (and you'll get better saturation from that) compared to me who exposes more to the right – (we're both still trying not to clip the highlights)

    NB: I often use my 0.9 Grad as a straight 3 stop ND by pulling it down to cover the whole imaging circle – seems to work fine

  5. +Aravindhan Padmanabhan – the term "hard" grad would seem to indicate that the transition from ND to clear would be instant like a hard line but thats not actually the case – the transition is still pretty gradual. The soft grads however have a really really gradual transition – which in general for most seascape use is much too gradual. The soft grads are designed for those times where there are things (that you care about – having detail in) sticking up above the horizon (like buildings, trees, etc). The problem with the soft grads with sunrise/sunset use is that because the transition area is so wide and weak you have to pull them down too far because you're trying to block the brightest part of the scene which is usually right on the horizon line (where the sun is near) – and thus you end up darkening the ground below the horizon too much as well.

    I also have a new reverse grad which I'm finding good use for – the transition is still like a hard grad at the ND to clear boundary but it's actually strongest around that point and gets lighter towards the top of the ND part. The advantage of this is that in most seascape uses (sunrise/sunset) the brightest part is right on the horizon and the top of the sky is often quite a bit darker. When you use a normal grad it often darkens the upper sky too much whereas the reverse grad doesn't.

  6. Regarding the soft vs hard grads (in the Lee system) from my limited experience when comparing mine (i have a hard kit – foundation kit thingy 0.9, 0.6, 0.3) with other peoples is that there is variation in the transition line, ie mine are actually fairly soft compared to one set (which were advertised as hard) – this does make sense since they are hand made. I have also heard of a few with funny defects like lines etc, however I know LEE have always been excellent in their post sale returns/exchanges in this regards (from my huge experience of two people 🙂

    +Aravindhan Padmanabhan if you are lookign to get the filters i would consider seeing them in person if possible – i bought mine from Mediavision in sydney and paid a slightly higher price than say teamwork and the like, but i did get to see what i was buying and got some excellent advice from the dude that works there – they specialize in LEE filters, mainly for cinematography .

    As Rodney has kindly pointed out 😉 the effect between the hard and soft grads does impact the way you use it, i really think a medium transition grad would be most useful 🙂 getting the position right takes practice and only in rare cases do i find over darkening or misalignment a problem.
    you can also stack the 0.9 and 0.6 (upside down for a poor mans reverse grad, i have done this a few times with limited success…

  7. Thanks +Gerard Blacklock, Mediavision were the mob I was going to turn up at. I've had a few interactions with them in the past and have always found them helpful and polite. As much as I like the seascapes, I want to venture more inland. So +Rodney Campbell brings up a good point about having trees and buildings sticking above the horizon line. I have that exact same problem with working in Lightroom. I guess it has a lot to do with my lack of knowledge rather than the shortcomings of the tool.

    Do you guys usually compose to not have things sticking into the ND filtered area? or do you pull the filter down a little further and then correct for it in post? I suppose a soft grad or a reverse grad (as mentioned by Rodney) would be the solution in those cases…

    Also, great idea with regards to .9 and .6 upside down! May be the foundation kit is the way to go…

  8. cheers +Gerard Blacklock, I know one only has to ask, however I often don't ask, and don't know where to ask first. Also I often try to work out how someone has achieved shot, which probably slows my progress and photographic development.

  9. +Gerard Blacklock Lol!! yes yes very nice nodules Gerard (as opposed to noodles..someone called me 'the potnoodle kaboodle' the other day the cheeky thing!). I find the discussion re post processing very interesting. I looked at the photo for quite a while last night as I was considering how hard the balance must have been tobalance the definite 'oomph' of the foreground with the softer sky. I did the the picture could almost have been split in two ..the strip above the horizon line is what does it. I think because it's such a fantastic sky it almost seems surreal. Ok well thats my morning after 20 cents worth 😀 (im a cheap rent a crowd commenter! 😉 )

  10. +Aravindhan Padmanabhan
    one trick with a complex horizon is to still bracket your exposures and 'brush' back in the light for those areas in the horizon that are dark. For horizon elements that are really dark then it does become a problem, but there is quite a bit of latitude in most modern dslr sensors to recover the shadows – whilst we are in the mood for tips, if you use a control point (Upoint technology from nik for eg) or selectively adjust brightness (CS6 or whateva) up or down you will notice the saturation increases (not in a good way) so whenever i selectively brighten or darken areas i always reduce saturation, this, for me actually gives a bit more room to recover details.
    If you buy the Lee filters, the best deal is to buy the foundation kit unless you only want a single filter. Note, i have only ever used the 0.3 filter a couple of times and only when the other two where to filthy with spray to use..

  11. Thanks +Kitten KaboodleInc or should we say potnoodle 🙂 nothing wrong with your opinion or 20 cents worth, more than welcome. Some skies do lend these selves to more of a softer tone as did this one, as mentioned i did selectively adjust the rock to give it a bit of extra kick..

  12. Amazing capture. Being landlocked up in north Texas I am drawn to great coastal long exposure shots like this that I rarely have an opportunity to try for myself.

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