Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A two hour weather change delivers some dramatic skies

What a difference a couple of hours can make. Just after 6:00 yesterday evening a thunderstorm grew with angry clouds and passed rapidly over the city. It had been a nice day and I had planned on photographing the sunset with a Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus lens I was testing on my Nikon D810. As the storm grew overhead, I gave up on my plans and settled down to an early dinner.

Around 7PM the clouds began to dissipate and color returned to the western sky. By 8PM the lingering clouds were thinning out even more and lingering over the southern sky where I hoped they might pick up some of the reflected light from the setting sun. Luck was with me as the sky lit up and the while it was still bright enough to record nice detail in the city buildings.

The storm clouds grew and passed over the city rapidly. I had my Fuji X-T1 ready as always with the 18-135mm zoom, but changed over to the 10-24mm zoom to include the drama of the full sky as it darkened the Empire State Building. There was enough reflected light from the southern sky to brighten the building windows with reflected light. 

The new Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 Otus lens has been receiving raves as one of the sharpest lenses ever made. I wanted to test it with a high end camera, like the D810, for the series of giant panoramas I am creating of the city. The panoramas are stitched together from multiple images. In the photo below, I took ten images with the camera in its vertical position on the tripod. Five images in a row to capture the sky, and then a second row of five for the city. I gave the images about a 20% overlap so the PTGui software I used could find similar information to match them up into one giant photograph.

The final image is over six feet wide and can go much larger in a print. The color of the sky and city were not altered. A very soft haze in the city absorbed color from the sky and carried it into the bottom half of the photo. The full drama of the color and clouds didn't last very long, maybe five minutes. I had enough time to capture two passes with the camera before the scene began dulling down.

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