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sky-lambs.jpg Sky Lambs

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Sky Lambs

Low clouds scud across the Wiltshire fields, like skittish lambs gambolling in spring. The fields are freshly harvested and ready for sowing as soon as the soil temperature is right.

On being ready for the unexpected

or You make your own luck...

I was returning from my paying day job in Staines last year, following the A303 on its winding, wending way through the fields of Wiltshire, following the contours of the land. The lighting and weather conditions were real nice and I had been stopping every handful of miles, looking around for shots.

Making the capture

Spotting the shot

On this stop, I was trying to find an angle and composition for something entirely different but it wasn't working out from where I was.

I was about to walk back to my car and noticed these extremely low, scudding clouds coming at me quite fast. So low, I felt I could reach up and touch them and this was accompanied by a slight shiver as my mind felt their cold clamminess on the back of my hand. All this flashed through my mind as I quickly scanned around, looking for a decent backdrop for them. This scene looked promising and turned out to be just perfect, I hope you'll agree.

Exposure, ISO etc.

As I'd already been trying stuff in pretty much the same lighting conditions, I knew that leaving the camera set to ISO 100 was right for this one.

By default I always have the camera set to aperture priority so I can control the depth of field easily. I know that f9 at the wide-angle end of my zoom lens (17mm focal length) means pretty much everything from my feet to infinity will be in focus.

As an aside, this knowledge is great for when you can't spare any time fiddling with settings and have to make the capture before the opportunity is gone. As long as there is enough light around so that the shutter speed to accompany f9 (or whatever aperture you choose while composing) is fast enough for the scene. Knowing that everything is going to be sharply in focus means you have one less thing to worry about. Heck, you can even switch to manual focus, focus a third of the way into the scene and shave some time off how long before the camera is ready for each subsequent shot.

Anyway, with this set-up it was straightforward to quickly exposure-lock on the brightest part of the sky, recompose and make the capture before the clouds were gone.

Keywords: sky low clouds skittish scudding fields Wiltshire 2008

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