Cumulus Clouds, Tuscany, Italy

Cumulus Clouds, Tuscany, Italy

Two summers ago I had the very good fortune to make a second trip to Italy, specifically within Chianti in Tuscany. This was shortly after I got my Nikon D40 and was still very new to photography, and it was among many things a great photographic opportunity. I grew up on the Canadian prairies where incredible skies (storm clouds, colourful sunsets, aurorae), but I'm rarely treated to such skies on the Pacific Coast where I've lived for the past several years. Tuscan skies however really reminded me of those skies I grew up with and they were a treat to take in.

This was taken mid-day in Radda in Chianti, looking south over the Tuscan countryside. At this point storms were just beginning to brew and I caught this display of cumulus clouds forming. The darker band at the top is due to darker rain-filled clouds between me and the distant cumulus clouds (in the black and white conversion this is less obvious). I'm sure to most people who routinely see summer storms this is less interesting, but to someone (me) who misses them it's almost a source of nostalgia.

The black and white conversion was both simple, and complex. The conversion itself was easily achieved using the photoshop Channel Mixer (I normally use a B&W conversion layer, but experimented a bit with this and liked the channel mixer results). The challenge arose from the noise that emerged in the lower-contrast dark areas. The conversion was done with an emphasis on the red and green channels, and the red channel is often rather noisy in the shadows (since there are half as many red and blue photocells on a digital sensor as there are green). Ultimately it results in a blocky noise where you'd expect to see continuous smooth tones. One trick I've worked with a bit recently (and in this image) is to actually add noise to those areas, rather than try to reduce noise - this has the overall effect of creating smoother tones overall, with am increase in fine noise, which I personally prefer.

I just happened upon this image looking through those 2 year old photos today - it's always worth revisiting the archives for new inspiration.

Nikon D40 | Nikon 18-200VE@62mm | f/8 | 1/1000s | ISO200 | Handheld

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