Levanter! / by Stephen Ball

Yesterday (Sun 13/08), there was a good Easterly wind blowing, generating quite a good Levanter over the Rock.  So, I headed up in to the nearby Sierra Carbonera to get a shot of the Levanter streaming right out across the Bay.

The road up to the top of the Sierra Carbonera is pretty rocky in places and 4WD is very helpful.  Fortunately, after a few hundred yards of tricky dirt track, it becomes a much smoother road.  I parked up at a good vantage point near the top with a full, unobstructed view of the bay.

The plan was to take a couple of images and also grab some timelapse footage showing the Levanter ebbing and flowing off the Rock as the wind changed subtly.  The wind up at the top of the Sierra was quite strong, but luckily I was able to set-up behind the shelter of an old look-out post.  I set the D800 up on a tripod and attached the Nikon 24-70 lens.  Unfortunately, I could only get out around mid-afternoon so the light was quite harsh and the Levanter was giving a lot of haziness which sucked most of the blue out of the sky.  With ISO100, an aperture of f/8 gave me a shutter speed of 1/800, however I shot at 1/1000 as there were a few very bright highlights in the sky coming off the Levanter and I didn't want to blow these out.  I knew the shadows could be lifted later in Lightroom, along with a bit of dehaze (around 25 on the slider) to sharpen things up and remove some of the 'fuzziness'.  The dehaze slider also has the effect of helping a bit of blue back in to the sky too.

Having secured a few still images, I then set up for the timelapse.  Again, the camera was on the tripod and I set up the intervalometer on the D800 to take 300 shots at 2 second intervals.  This took 10 minutes and it was good to have the tripod in the shelter of the look-out post as the wind was very gusty at times.  I took the timelapse images in RAW, so I could adjust the first image in Lightroom later and then synch the settings to the other 299 images very easily.  Having done this, the images were then exported as jpeg's, which were then imported in to Photoshop and converted to a timelapse at 1080P size in a 16:9 crop.  I chose to use 15fps for the timelapse as I wanted it to be slighter slower (normal videos are generally 24 or 30fps, or even 60fps) so that the evolution of the Levanter as it ebbed and flowed to be more visible.  This gave me a 20 second timelapse at 15fps, plenty of time to see the evolution and development of the Levanter and associated rotor clouds.