Mountain Photography with Clouds - Long Exposure or Short Exposure?

April 17, 2019  •  Leave a Comment


Mountain Photography with Clouds - Long Exposure or Short Exposure?

First of all, let me apologise for not creating any new Blog posts for a while. To be honest I felt that it had become redundant as I now produce two videos each week and the blog started to feel that it was just a re-hash of the videos.

I've been trying to come up with a better use for the blog, something that compliments the videos.

In this blog post I'm trying out something new. let me know what you think.

In my latest video I shot two compositions, in the mountains, on a day with lots of cloud. 

Although I only shot two compositions I did shoot four images. That's because, for each composition, I shot a normal length (short) exposure and also a long exposure.

I then posed the question, which worked better? The short exposure or the long exposure?

I obviously have my own opinions but I didn't want to include them in the video as I didn't want to 'steer' the viewers one way or the other. 

Instead, I made a note in the video, that if anyone wanted to see my choices, they should check out this blog.

So... Here's my choices, and why.

If you haven't seen the video yet I recommend watching it first... and here it is :

OK... So... 

Here are the four different images

The Trail and the CloudsThe Trail and the CloudsDark clouds over part of Cabezon del Oro mountain in Spain with a narrow trail winding into the scene

The Trail and the Clouds - Long ExposureThe Trail and the Clouds - Long ExposureDark clouds blurred by a long exposure over part of Cabezon del Oro mountain in Spain with a narrow trail winding into the scene

Mountain Trail and Dark CloudsMountain Trail and Dark CloudsDark clouds over part of Cabezon del Oro mountain in Spain with a trail on the side of the foothills leading into the scene

Mountain Trail and Dark Clouds - Long ExposureMountain Trail and Dark Clouds - Long ExposureDark clouds blurred by a long exposure over part of Cabezon del Oro mountain in Spain with a trail on the side of the foothills leading into the scene

I'm actually going to work backwards on this and start off with this image:

Mountain Trail and Dark Clouds - Long ExposureMountain Trail and Dark Clouds - Long ExposureDark clouds blurred by a long exposure over part of Cabezon del Oro mountain in Spain with a trail on the side of the foothills leading into the scene

This was a long exposure of 1 minute and 51 seconds with a Lee Big Stopper (10 stop ND Filter).

In the video I did give away a little bit as I said that I wasn't sure it had worked as I thought all of the detail had gone from the sky.

Having processed the image, I actually think the sky isn't too bad. I actually quite like the streak of pale light that almost mirrors the path and there's still some nice patterns in some parts of the sky.

Actually, what et's this image down, in my opinion, is the blur in the tops of the trees on both sides of the frame. I know some people don't mid that, and in some images I think it works, but, in this one, I don't think it does. 

I suppose I could try blending the short exposure and the long exposure to get sharp trees and the blurry sky but, given the amount of detail to work around, it would take forever to do and I don't think the image is worth all the effort.

As for the short exposure:

Mountain Trail and Dark CloudsMountain Trail and Dark CloudsDark clouds over part of Cabezon del Oro mountain in Spain with a trail on the side of the foothills leading into the scene

This works a lot better. The trees are nice and sharp and there's some nice texture in the clouds and a certain 'glow' in the sky as well. Between the long and the short exposure for this composition I am definitely choosing the short exposure.

Now to the first composition.

This is the long exposure. It was 25 seconds, again using the Lee Big Stopper (10 stop ND Filter). It was a lot shorter exposure than the other composition because, in this one, I was facing more towards the sun.

The Trail and the Clouds - Long ExposureThe Trail and the Clouds - Long ExposureDark clouds blurred by a long exposure over part of Cabezon del Oro mountain in Spain with a narrow trail winding into the scene

I like the way this one has come out. The 'burst' effect of the blurred cloud looks quite nice and creates a nice bit of dynamic movement in the scene . Also, although there was still some breeze, there is no noticeable blurring in the trees or other foliage. 

Also, to be honest. I think this is a better composition.

The same composition but shot with the filter and so a much shorter exposure.

The Trail and the CloudsThe Trail and the CloudsDark clouds over part of Cabezon del Oro mountain in Spain with a narrow trail winding into the scene

In this one the foreground and mountain are pretty much identical but the clouds show shapes and textures that I think look quite nice in this scene.

While I think both the long and sort exposures for this composition work well I find myself, very slightly, favouring the short exposure. 

So... Thats my choice. Of four images shot I will be sharing three of them (the very long exposure with the wind blurred trees is not for sharing).

I hope this has proven interesting

Thank you for reading and I hope you'll join me for my next video
 


 


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