Storms are opportunities

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In Sacramento, we have it good. Compared to the rest of the nation, we really only have 3 seasons. What we call winter would be welcomed in much of the country. When we do actually get a bout of weather, people panic. After a steady stream of very wet storms, this week was no exception. The newspaper and every local news station had their [wikipop]redshirt character[/wikipop] doing a spot outside, getting blasted by storm while telling us the obvious; it was raining.

For nature photographers, weather is an opportunity. Frequent readers of this blog often see me lament the blank blue skies that plaque California. While great for picnics, cloudless skies make for boring photography. Weather, especially right after a storm, can absolutely make a scene. Such was the case with this shot.

Last Monday, we got hit by a very wet storm. Around 2:30PM, we got a partial break that looked like it might last for a few hours. I threw my gear in the car and headed up to the foothills in the hope of catching a great sunset. About 20 minutes after I’d arrived, Gary Hart, pulled up behind me; completely unplanned. After shooting a while, we consolidated cars and headed down the road. With an eye on the developing sunset color, we found a spot that he’d shot at previously. On a fairly narrow road shoulder, we set up and tried our best to keep from being run over. At one point a friendly [wikipop]California Highway Patrol[/wikipop] officer stopped by and told us: “I know it’s pretty, but you’re going to get killed.”  Thankfully he was wrong and we both got some great shots.

To get this capture I used a Singh-Ray 3 stop reverse graduated neutral density filter. This special filter has a dark band in the center and slowly transitions to clear. For sunsets, on a fairly straight horizon, it’s a great tool. Bringing down the brightness at the horizon, the filter allowed me to get a good exposure on the rest of the sky. The same result could have been had by combining multiple exposures during processing but it’s always more rewarding to do it with the camera.


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