Stormy Day

It was a stormy Sunday afternoon. I was itching to get out and shoot some photos and I was contemplating using the stormy sky in some photos. I began thinking about the creek at Balcones Canyonlands and how it would look with the dramatic gray clouds in the sky. So, I got in my car and drove through the rain to the refuge hoping for a break in the rain to hike down the creek for some photos. It rained hard on my car on the way there, but within five minutes of my arrival at the refuge, the rain had abated to a sprinkle. So I hiked down to the creek trail.

When I made it to the creek I found a spot with some slippery rocks that allowed me to set up my tripod and look down the full creek bed. In this spot there are several large branches overhanging the creek which I really liked, so I set about taking some (hopefully dramatic) photos.

The real chore was editing these photos as I went for different levels of ‘mood’ with each edit. So I present to you three different edited photos with different moods. The first, I think is the moodiest. I did enhanced a lot of the contrast in the sky as well as the tree branches. I also brought the blacks down quite a bit and desaturated the greens to make the scene seem more ominous than it was.

With the next image the tripod was actually in the water and down low. In the edit I let the greens be greener and I didn’t burn the sky as much. But it is still a bit gloomy and gray.

In the third, I let the greens be lush and maybe dropped the clarity a little to give more of painting look. Also the clouds were rapidly moving out and the sky was turning blue and sunny.

What grabs me in all the scenes above is the distinct branches of the oak on the right. I did do quite a bit of work on these branches in post to bring out the textures of the bark. This amounted to putting a circular filter over the tree, setting a luminance mask to the darkest tones and then pumping the contrast and clarity on that part of the image. I probably favor the gloomiest first image the best as it was what I had in mind when I set out for this photo expedition.

The rain and dark clouds quickly made their exit, so I made an afternoon hike out of the occasion. The trails were muddy, but not too bad. I actually met a lot of people out on the trails on this afternoon. The photo below is also from the creek trail. I again worked the texture in the bark of the Ashe Juniper along the trail. And I assure you that though the horizon is not level, the camera was.

You can see from the above image that the sky is rapidly turning a clear blue. So my photos weren’t all gloomy, but I did have bright mid-afternoon sun to deal with.

So, I will leave you with a butterfly on a thistle and a firewheel.

Thanks for reading and tell me what you think in the comments.

13 thoughts on “Stormy Day

  1. I like how you can bring out textures in post-production. The top photo does a very good job of bringing out a sense of storminess and drama, in my view. Nice butterfly and flower shots, too.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve tried a program called Darktable, which I think is a free, scaled down version of Lightroom. But when I try to bring down bright areas, everything comes down, and vice-versa when I try to bring up dark areas. It’s a little bit useful, but not very.

        Liked by 1 person

            1. Lightroom and Photoshop are subscription based now. There was a stand-alone version though I am not sure if you can still get it.

              Nikon gives you Capture NX-D free for download. It is not as full-featured as Lightroom, but it is pretty good.

              Another issue may be if you are editing a JPG file, these files don’t really have much depth to them. All my editing is done on the raw camera file and then I export a JPG file.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I checked it out. I think it’s now called NX Studio. I downloaded it and will play around with it the next time I shoot some RAW images.

              I tried editing RAW images with Darktable, but it didn’t allow for editing selected parts of the image. Hopefully, NX Studio will.

              Like

  2. I agree about the first one being the best, could be the perfect setting for a mysterious story perhaps. 🙂 I liked the 3rd one a lot too, how green the shrubbery was and you did a great job at bringing out the textures of that and the bark.
    The firewheels are nice and cheery!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. great set of photos; I liked watching the sky transition from dark and gloomy to bright and sunny. Love the picture of the butterfly. And I also love your commitment to going out in the middle of a storm to get some photos!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like your gloomy take in the first picture. Your comments about the rain reminded me of a springtime incident almost 20 years ago when I went out to the Doeskin Ranch to make portraits of a model. She and I had hiked up to the top of the ridge, which as you know is pretty far from the parking lot, when the rain began coming down. All the way back down I kept my camera bag covered to protect the equipment inside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be a long trek back down in the rain. My backpack came with a rain cover which I have been using a lot lately.

      I am imaging a model where a lot of fancy clothing and shoes climbing up those trails.

      Like

      1. My last several camera bags have been similar Tamrac models that all came with a rain cover. I can’t remember what sort of bag I used 20 years ago, but I don’t think it had a rain cover. I’ve often carried a plastic bag with me for emergencies.

        Like

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