It was a dark and cloudy night

(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 55mm. 5 sec @ f/2.8. ISO: 100).

I saw a band of clouds hovering over Lodi one recent evening that caught my eye. Lit mostly from behind by a full moon, the clouds seem to almost glow. They also picked up a faint tint from the street lights below that added just a bit of color to them. It was about 10:00 p.m., well past the “golden hour” of just past sunset when it’s the optimum time to shoot night shots in order to get a deep indigo sky. But the full moon provided enough illumination to give the sky that blue cast. The effect was to have daytime looking clouds in a night scene.

I found a suitable foreground of a farmhouse and pulled over near Turner Road and I-5. I didn’t have a tripod with me, so I nestled the camera in my bag, with the lens pointing out of it. That helped to keep the camera still to lessen camera shake.  I guesstimated the focus and angle of the shot and used exposures between 5 and 10 seconds. I took abut a dozen frames or so. The shorter exposures were the better shots, the longer ones picked up too much motion in the clouds making them look blurry.

That night, I had forgotten something at work, so I was headed back to the office when I saw the clouds. It as late and I was off duty, so I debated whether to stop or not. In photography the unusual doesn’t happen very often, so when it does you do your best to stop and capture it.

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