One of my favorite subjects to shoot is clouds. Not any ordinary ones, I'm talking about clouds that create some drama or an interesting pattern. Last Saturday I was cutting some wood behind the house when I saw a line of flame-like clouds showing up behind the trees that surround our neck of the woods. I dropped the axe immediately and ran inside to get the camera. We had a nice blue sky but color didn't give me the drama I saw in the shapes the clouds were producing. I knew I was shooting for a final Black & White.
Nobody wants to see their house on fire but I thought it looked quite dramatic. The clouds were moving fast and after ten minutes the sky was completely covered with a thin layer of clouds, which of course didn't hold any drama anymore.
A few words about the post processing. As always the RAW files get imported into Adobe Lightroom, where I usually do just the RAW sharpening and some noise removal if necessary. From there I kick out a tif-file and move over to NIK's Silver Efex Pro 2. Since I had done some other B&W images with clouds recently I created a preset that I can now use as a starting point. The next step is to open a copy of the file in Photoshop where I use pre-recorded action sets that do the downsizing and final sharpening for the web. Presets and action sets can be a big time saver sometimes if you go for the same effect. However, I never just apply them and walk away. I always do some fine tuning and tweaking of a particular slider if it improves the image.