Sierra Castillo, Clouds First: Cumulus clouds hanging on mountain in a stable atmosphere

Sierra Castillo, Clouds First: Cumulus clouds hanging on mountain in a stable atmosphere

Cumulus clouds hanging on the tips of mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park on September 24th around 10:45 am.

 

Clouds 1 Report

Sierra Castillo

Introduction

The purpose of this class is to visualize flow phenomena. For this image, we were tasked with taking pictures of clouds. Due to the many variables present in the physics of clouds, there were many distinct images submitted. For my submission, I photographed cumulus clouds hanging on the tops of mountains.

Circumstances of Image

The image was taken in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) during the descent of the Emerald Lake trail. The image overlooks Glacier Gorge, facing South-West. I was standing at about 9,500 ft in elevation, while the valley floor seen is at about 8,500 ft (National Park Service, 2016). The image was taken on September 24th, 2016 at about 10:45 am. Previously in the day, it had been raining/snowing lightly and the whole valley was filled with fog. This point in the day was the first time the clouds lifted to give a view of the valley. The clouds, being cumulus, were fluffy and full of detail, which I attempted to convey through this image.

Cloud Physics

Cumulus clouds are low atmosphere clouds that form often from cold fronts. In this case, a cold front likely hit the mountains which forced it upwards. When the colder air hit the warmer air above, this caused the warm air to condense, forming the cumulus clouds seen in the image. Judging from the image, it is clear that the clouds are low, around 3,000 m above the ground. This is another indication that the clouds are indeed cumulus (Hertzberg, 2011). The Denver skew-T plot is the closest atmospheric sounding data available for RMNP and the one for Sept. 24th is seen in Figure 1 below (University of Wyoming, 2016).

skewt

Figure 1: Skew-T for Denver Area; Sept. 24th, 2016

The CAPE value for the day was 0, indicating a very stable atmosphere for the Denver area. This stability would be conducive to stratus and cirrus clouds. However, locally in RMNP the clouds were mostly cumulus. Earlier in the day it had been raining and snowing. Though this is indicative of an unstable atmosphere, the mountains have a large influence on the local weather. The orographic features forced local instability, resulting in the puffy, cumulus clouds and the inclement weather present during that day. As I remember, Boulder had fair weather that day, so the stability indicated by the skew-T is reasonable.

Photographic Technique

To be perfectly honest, this was the first weekend I had had my camera, so many of the settings were experimentally chosen. At this point in the day, the sun was out and provided ample light, allowing for a lower ISO. The shutter speed was at a fairly medium value. These values were just the best combination of settings that I tried at the time (again, I was new to my camera). Other specs of the image can be seen in Table 1, below.

Table 1: Specifications of Image

F.O.V. ~2-3 miles
Distance: Obj to Lens ~1.5-2 miles
Focal Length 46 mm
Aperture 4.8
Shutter Speed 1/500 sec
ISO 100

 

Below is the original, unedited image (Figure 2). To the right is the final, edited version (Figure 3). During post processing, I really wanted to keep the details of the clouds, while still showcasing the mountains and the valley below that allowed the clouds to form. I increased the contrast as much as possible to get the details in the clouds. This darkened the mountains too much, so, using Photoshop, I brightened the bottom half of the image a bit. Finally, I messed with the exposure settings a little bit until I was satisfied. Though the original image has a bright, happy and colorful feel to it, the entire hike was dreary and cold. I wanted that to be evident in the cloud image, so I applied the black and white filter in Photoshop. I didn’t want the blue of the sky to mask the fact that it had been raining and snowing all day.

unedited

Figure 2: Original, unedited picture

final

Figure 3: Final, edited picture

Conclusion

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome of the image. I feel it conveys the emotions I felt that day: cold, yet perfectly content. The details of the image really show the depth of the cumulus clouds. I wish that I could have showed the shadows on the mountains more realistically (meaning I need to develop my Photoshop skills further). I would also like to know the makeup of the atmosphere locally. I think it would be interesting to see the details of how those clouds were formed. I found I really enjoyed photographing mountain clouds. I love putting them in black and white. I think this is something that could become a hobby of mine.

References

“Bear Lake Summer Trails Guide.” National Park Service, May 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

Hertzberg, Jean. “Clouds 1.” N.p., 11 Jan. 2011. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

University of Wyoming, 24 Sept. 2016. Web. 17 Oct. 2016.

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31 Comments. Leave new

  • Michael Lloyd
    Oct 30, 2016 15:03

    Great black and white image with good contrast range, though you could lean towards the white a little more.

    Reply
  • Schuyler Vandersluis
    Oct 24, 2016 12:48

    I like the black and white approach to this one. It limits distracting elements. Great job!

    Reply
  • Marcus Gurule
    Oct 16, 2016 20:32

    I really like this photo! it reminds me of an Ansel Adams photo, great work!

    Reply
  • Katherine Yarnell
    Oct 12, 2016 12:09

    Really like this photograph. Great contrast in color from dark to light. Like the framing the mountains supply.

    Reply
  • Branden Goldenberg
    Oct 11, 2016 14:42

    Black and white was a great choice for this photo. It still has a great range in colors, even with the lack there of! The mountains take away from the clouds slightly. Although I love the photo how it is, this being a cloud assignment, maybe cropping some of the mountains out of the photo would bring the focus to where it is needed.

    Reply
  • Alexander Thompson
    Oct 10, 2016 23:32

    Very cool image! I think making this one black and white really enhances the detail in the clouds. It also increases the attention toward the sky. Which hike is this at Rocky Mountain National Park? Is it the Dream Lake hike?

    Reply
    • Sierra Castillo
      Oct 15, 2016 12:32

      Yup! Good eye. We actually went past Dream to Emerald Lake, but it’s the same trail.

      Reply
  • Joseph Straccia
    Oct 10, 2016 18:26

    Very nice photo. Works really well as a black and white because of the large range in tones. It’s neat to see the cloud enveloping the mountain. Great example of cumulus clouds.

    Reply
  • Preston Marcoux
    Oct 10, 2016 14:14

    I’m not to sure if you have ever read the book “The Road” by Cormac Mccarthy, but this image conveys the same fear and mysteriousness as that book does. Good use of contrasts and its cool to see the clouds blanketing the mountains.

    Reply
  • Daniel Luber
    Oct 10, 2016 12:16

    I really like the use of the black and white photographic technique. I will probably use it more in the future. The contrast and composition are very good.

    Reply
  • Daniel Baker
    Oct 10, 2016 12:15

    This image feels like it was taken at a key moment in the past which is obviously due to the black/white filter, but the lack of any man-made features gives it an old feel as well. The overlaying shadow of the clouds themselves gives them a lot of scale given that the mountains themselves are enormous; casting a shadow over them is already a nice touch. What I enjoy about this image is the fact that the clouds don’t have a large portion of them missing; a majority of the cloud’s body is in the shot. From an artistic standpoint, I can see why the filter was added to give it uniqueness, but I am very curious to see what the original image looked like and what the color contrast was. Well done.

    Reply
  • Kate Gresh
    Oct 10, 2016 12:14

    1. The image is so artistic and beautiful- the black and white is great.
    2. The flow is clearly demonstrated.
    3. The photographic techinique is excellent with great exposure and the highlights and shadows detailed and a full contrast range.

    Reply
  • Zachary Cymanski
    Oct 10, 2016 12:14

    I like the added black and white touch in this image with the large snow clouds in the background. I also like how the mountains disappear into the clouds. The entire image has a cold tone and the B/W helps with that.

    Reply
  • Matthew Beckemeier
    Oct 10, 2016 12:13

    The contrast and sharpness are on point. The dark background is ominous to seem like the back of the mountain is different from the side the photo was taken.

    Reply
  • Tianzhu Fan
    Oct 10, 2016 12:13

    The black and white color give different feeling to observers. The photo gives very good picture portion of mountain and white. very good scene.

    Reply
  • Yadira Valadez
    Oct 10, 2016 12:13

    I love that the black and white added to the depth of the photo. The contrast works really well.

    Reply
  • Michael Waterhouse
    Oct 10, 2016 12:13

    I like the use of black and white. A lot of detail. Great shadows from the clouds on the mountains.

    Reply
  • Stephanie Mora
    Oct 10, 2016 12:12

    Really nice picture. Love how the mountain shape contrasts the wispiness of the clouds. Nice full range of tones.

    Reply
  • James Julian
    Oct 10, 2016 12:12

    Art: I really like the dark tones of the clouds and the shadows that the clouds are casting.
    Flow: The flow is quickly understandable and easily recognized.
    Photographic technique: The focus of the Clouds is great, especially with the dramatic differences in contrast.

    Reply
  • Harrison Lien
    Oct 10, 2016 12:12

    Beautiful photo, nice effective usage of black and white, really stunning photo. Clouds look well detailed, there is a good contrast between the clouds and the mountains. The clouds themselves look pretty dramatic. Nice work

    Reply
  • Ryan Daniel
    Oct 10, 2016 12:12

    Super clear image of mountains and clouds, very good contrast range! Like the black and white edit, gives it a nice dark feel.

    Reply
  • Jason Savath
    Oct 10, 2016 12:11

    The use of black and white helps the contrast stand out in the image. The clouds look like rain clouds and depth of shadows and texture. Great image.

    Reply
  • David Leng
    Oct 10, 2016 12:11

    I like the use of the black and white to help bring out the contrast in the clouds. The detail is good especially where the clouds seem to cover the mountain.

    Reply
  • Alexander Rosenberry
    Oct 10, 2016 12:11

    I usually think black and white photos are not a good idea, but this is a great one! Good blacks and whites, which isn’t easy to do! Gives a nice and ominous feel. The mountains give a nice frame of reference to the clouds were looking at.

    Reply
  • Sean Harrison
    Oct 10, 2016 12:11

    Nice use of black and white in this image. Well focused image and crisp. In the future consider cropping out things like the tree in the bottom right corner of the image as it distracts away from the clouds and mountains.

    Reply
  • Brett Sibel
    Oct 10, 2016 12:11

    Great choice on the black and white background. The photo is gorgeous. It gives it a very nice ominous feel.

    Reply
  • Peter Brunsgaard
    Oct 10, 2016 12:11

    I really like the contrast in the photo. The clouds look very menacing in the back and fluffy in the front.

    Reply
  • Jeremiah Chen
    Oct 10, 2016 12:10

    The black and white creates a calming affect on the image as a whole and really brings out the contrast between the clouds and the mountains.

    Reply
  • Mark Noel
    Oct 10, 2016 12:10

    I love the inclusion of the mountains. I like the Black and White! The clouds look great.

    Reply
  • Maxfield Scrimgeour
    Oct 7, 2016 12:51

    i like the way that the black and white helps being out the contrast between the mountains and the clouds. cool to see how the clouds look like a blanket over the mountain. nice view along the ridge that cuts up into the clouds.

    Reply
  • Theo Petrides
    Oct 7, 2016 12:50

    – Great photo here and the detail is clear.
    – Really like the contrast in the gray and white areas definitely has that Ansel Adams feel to it!

    Reply

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