When you look up at the clouds in the vastness that is the sky, you may see a couple of different things. You may observe fast-moving clouds or clouds that appear to have faced in them. Many people have also observed this wondrous and almost ethereal quality of clouds, which is what paved the way for cloudscape photography to slowly but surely expand its reach as a genre.
Essentially, it is the photography of either clouds or the sky, no matter what time of day, color or sizes and shapes.
Not a dizzyingly popular photography genre by any means, cloudscape photography is more of a niche that’s an acquired taste… but what an acquired taste it can be if you know what you’re doing and have a passion for capturing the sky on film! This is such a photography niche that only a couple of photographers stand out in history as making famous contributions to the genre.
A Belgian photographer, Leonard Misonne, made his mark by producing black-and-white shots of dark clouds and brooding skies. Even more remarkable was the noted American photographer Alfred Stieglitz, who actually created a series of shots of clouds called “Equivalents” in the early part of the 20th century. Equivalents is groundbreaking because it’s viewed today as one of the first examples of utterly abstract photographic art.
Are you a budding Misonne or Stieglitz? When you stare up at the clouds and the sky, do you find yourself getting lost in their wispy, dreamlike quality? If you answered yes to both questions, you may want to try your hand at cloudscape photography! Master the following tips, and you can be among a relatively small number of photographers who are intrepidly exploring this niche of photography.
Stability Is Ultra-Important
Stability’s always important when snapping photos, but it’s more so when it comes to cloudscape photography. A shaky hand can really ruin the chance to take a picture-perfect snapshot of a piece of sky.
Your first priority must be a very steady hand as you press the shutter release, but for some, that’s not an option.
Bring in your trusty tripod to give yourself that necessary stability; at the very least, rest your camera on a solid object that won’t move. You may want to try to hold your camera very firmly as you only concentrate on moving that one finger that’ll press the shutter release. If you have fast ASA film at your disposal, good! This will mitigate this issue considerably.
Use The Right Filter To Your Advantage
Photographers will many years of experience in shooting clouds recommend the continuous use of a polarizing filter. Such a filter will improve the contrast in between the clouds, especially clouds of the cumulus variety. The background sky will also experience improved contrast, thus resulting in a much-enhanced cloud picture.
Polarized light is going to optimize at about 90 degrees to a solar beam; you can double-check this by simply pointing your camera to different sections of the sky. Lots of point-and-shoot cameras won’t accept any screw-on filters.
This may seem problematic, but you can efficiently get around this issue by just holding up a filter to the lens and then rotating it to obtain the intended effect, while making sure not to permit any finger to interfere with incoming light.
Knowing How To Use The Light Is Power
In this niche genre, your success is very much tied to the available amount of light in the environment around you. Let’s take a brief look at different light situations. Suppose that you have an overcast day during your cloudscape-photography excursion. You’ll likely get relatively dull images due to the lack of light.