I thought I’d put together a blog on how I came about taking this image and the thought process I went through.
It was a grey and gloomy day, not overly inspiring for photography but I thought I’d bring my X100s with the TCL-X100 converter attached with me while I took my dogs out for a walk. Most of the walk was spent either trying to avoid slipping over in the thick, wet mud or turning my body to avoid having a face full of rain. I was shooting with the black and white + red filter preset as it worked well with the gloomy conditions for some moody shots. As I reached the top of the hill I was walking up, I noticed how quickly the clouds were moving across an adjacent hilltop and instantly decided to drive back to this location with my tripod and filters*.
I was imagining the image I want to produce while walking back down with the dogs. There was a strong contrast between the immovable trees and the blustery clouds so I wanted to exaggerate this.
I decided to use the X-T1 and the XF18-135mm lens because it was very versatile and meant I could change my composition with minimal effort! I mounted the camera onto a tripod and attached a filter holder system. I have a collection of square filters, these are very helpful as you can use square filters with a variety of lenses with different filter thread sizes, all you need are different filter adapters. Though the systems are relatively expensive, in the long run they are more economical than circular filters. I also used a remote trigger which means I don’t have to touch the camera and introduce any unnecessary camera shake to take the picture, this is very helpful for long exposures.
If you look at the above photo you can see that I have a filter inserted into the filter holder. I decided to use a gradual neutral density filter as this allowed me to darken the sky while having less/little effect on the ground.
The left filter is a gradual neutral density filter, it isn’t square which means you can adjust how far down you want the gradient to affect your picture. The filter on the right is a neutral density filter, which is constant throughout. This particular one is a 10-stop filter hence why it is so dark as it cuts the amount of light passing through it by ten times, so slowing down shutter speeds drastically.
I put the gradual filter in first and set it up how I wanted it, set focus and then inserted the 10-stop filter. The reason why I set the focus first is the 10-stop filter can make auto-focus very difficult so it is better to have it all set beforehand. On this occasion the 10-stop filter didn’t take the shutter speed below 30 seconds, which means the camera is able to accurately read the exposure required. If a 30 second exposure is still too short once you’ve applied the filter, then you’ll need to refer to a chart that shows the difference.
Despite the fact that I’ve used a graduated neutral density filter, I’ve deliberately under exposed the picture to keep it dark and moody, hence why the ground is still dark. The slideshow below is a collection of images that used the 10-stop neutral density filter to slow down the shutter speed and as a result capture the cloud motion.
My photos are dominated by the sky – I deliberately kept the horizon low in the picture as the sky was the main subject for me. With the wider shots, I could have moved the horizon up more but the foreground content wasn’t particularly exciting, the sheep weren’t overly inspiring!
I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to ask. There is one colour image above, I’d love to know which is your favourite out of the final four. For me it is the portrait orientated shot as I was lucky enough to capture the sun peering through the clouds.
*If you haven’t already seen my previous blog about photographing winter, then check it out here: https://fujifilm.blog/2014/12/31/capturing-winter/