Travel Photographer of the Year 2017: Highly commended in the Primary Colours category and finalist in another two categories.
Commended photographer in the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards, the world’s largest photography competition.
This is one of the most amazing cloud "hats" I have seen on Mount Pico, a stratovolcano that turns out to be the highest peak in Portugal (2351 m).
Such lenticular cloud is rarely observed. It forms very rapidly and, due to the high air turbulence, the changes in shape are so abrupt that they sometimes look like time lapses in real time!
I would love to be able to tell you that I carefully monitored the cloud formation, so that I was ready to capture it at its best. Reality is it was by chance.
I went to the backyard because I was looking for my pussycat Alya. Luckily, I saw the cloud while it was just starting to form.
It took me less than a couple of minutes to set up my camera and tripod.
The right lens was already on, since I always switch to my Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM around 7pm if I know I will spend the evening home. It is the lens I always use to shoot Mount Pico at night from my backyard and having it already on my camera minimises the chances I will miss a great shot.
Still, I was in such a hurry that I forgot to turn camera stabilisation off. I shoot Sony and the camera body is stabilised rather than the lenses. When using a tripod, it is very important to switch off the steady shot function (also called image stabilisation or vibration reduction) in order to prevent the camera or lens from trying to compensate movements that are just not there!
Good job I found it out right after the first shot. As you can see below, that early image looks shaky and ghosty!
Always turn off camera/lens stabilisation when on tripod!
Once I corrected that awful mistake, luck turned to my side as the cloud kept spinning around the top of the mount during the 30 seconds I needed for the exposure.
Ten seconds later, the hat started to descend along the slopes of the volcano and completely collapsed over its summit.