Swirling Clouds – a photographic experiment

Over the last 6 months or so a number of photographic ideas sort of came to a crossroads for me.  As you might know, I do a lot of time lapse photography, but I have also been playing around with some long exposure and star trail photography lately.  All this sort of came together for me this weekend when I was down in Oregon shooting in the Columbia River Gorge and made this image of some swirling clouds over the Columbia River.

You might ask how all of these different photographic things came together for this image, let me try to explain.  This image is actually a combination of 349 images stacked together as separate layers in Photoshop, which obviously comes from my shooting this scene for the purpose of putting a time lapse video together.  While I was shooting this scene as a time lapse with my Nikon D7000, I also shot it with my D600 using a Lee Big Stopper 10 stop ND filter but the clouds simply were not moving as much as I wanted and I was somewhat disappointed in those images.  After I got home and started putting the time lapse video together it dawned on me that I actually had a VERY long exposure, about 30 minutes in this case, if I were to put all those images together into a single frame.  The only thing is that I wasn’t sure how to put all those images together, but as I was thinking about it I realized that this really isn’t much different than taking a bunch of star trail images and stacking them together with the “lighten” blending mode in Photoshop.  I gave that a try and came up with something that I really liked, the above image.

I plan on doing more of this, I am already shooting time lapse sequenced frequently, I might as well work those same captures into something more.  This image was an experiment, and while I am very pleased with it, there are a few things I want to try differently next time, and will share those ideas if they actually work.


This entry was posted in Photography.


  1. Curt Fleenor January 14, 2013 at 4:31 am #

    Outstanding result Scott! When I saw you mention layering over 300 images I wondered if you were working on something like this.
    Curt Fleenor recently posted..Downhill SlideMy Profile

  2. Ken Rowland January 14, 2013 at 5:07 am #

    Great looking image and a very interesting approach to creating it. Way to think outside the box.
    Ken Rowland recently posted..Abstract Architecture AtlantaMy Profile

    • ScottWood January 16, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

      Thanks. I look forward to doing more of this.

  3. Jim Denham January 14, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    Great idea and well done!
    Jim Denham recently posted..The Un-WinterMy Profile

  4. Edith Levy January 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    I love this. The result is amazing.
    Edith Levy recently posted..Listener Funded Public MusicMy Profile

    • ScottWood January 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

      Thanks Edith, very kind of you to say.

  5. Toad Hollow Photo January 16, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    Holy Toledo, that’s unreal! Great concept and execution here, Scott, absolutely incredible! Very striking and dramatic and absolutely unique. Can’t wait to see more!
    Toad Hollow Photo recently posted..It’s For YouMy Profile

    • ScottWood January 16, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

      Thanks Scott. I learned a lot doing this one, and while they might not be mistakes, I will be shooting scenes like this a little differently next time.

  6. Chris Maskell January 17, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Really like this Scott, great technique
    Chris Maskell recently posted..Three Cliff Bay, Gower, WalesMy Profile

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Swirling Clouds – an experiment that produces striking results, an experience and photograph shared by Scott Wood.  By stacking a series of timelapse photographs Scott has created a literal 30 minute exposure in the middle of the day, documenting the activity in the sky in a truly unique way. […]

  2. By The Columbia River Gorge – time lapse video on January 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    […] few days ago I shared an image that I created by stacking 349 image that I captured while shooting a time lapse video in the Columbia River Gorge.  Even though this […]

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