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on Nov 18, 2013 in Landscape Photography

Timeless & Big Stopper


We had some high, fast moving clouds and that got me to wondering. I’ve seen some marvelous images of very blurred clouds by static subjects. With the clouds I was seeing over our heads, I wanted to see if I could do the same. So we headed down the Merced to a classic view of El Capitan, I mean, can’t get more static that that big ass piece of rock! To get the shot, it’s the same basic formula as blurred water, you need a slow shutter speed so the fast moving subject blurs during the exposure. The question is, how slow and how to get there. With water, I have a pretty good idea where to start, but not a clue with clouds. You see, I’d never done it before but thought it was a good time to. Unlike water, the clouds are going to be lit by the sun, so extreme measures were required. Call in the, wait for it … Big Stopper!!! (you should be hearing that word reverberate on your computer right now).

Shooting with the D4, 18-35AFS and Big Stopper, (all on a tripod of course) started by composing the scene. This is important for besides the obvious, you need to set the focus and determine shutter speed. Once that is done, set the camera to manual focus, remember the shutter speed (aperture doesn’t change) and set camera to Bulb. Using this really cool app my bud Scott Kelby turned me on to when we were shooting at Lake Tahoe, NDTimer, you then calculate the shutter speed you need shooting through the Big Stopper. For example, it an original shutter speed of 1/13, NDTimer told me (and very accurately) I needed to use 1:18 exposure. How accurate is it, really? Within 15min, everyone else owned NDTimer and was using it. It’s that good! Unlike water, getting cool shots of blurred clouds is not really a slam dunk just because you have moving clouds. I don’t have a formula yet in my head, but with these tools, it’s pretty easy so I’ll keep playing with it until I do.