Photography: Creatively Capturing Clouds

Photography: Creatively Capturing Clouds

I am sure, in another life, I must have been a storm chaser. I love weather. One of my favorite photographic subjects is lightning. Whenever I can I am out and about before and after storms to photograph the rain and the snow and the lightning and, yes, clouds.

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Clouds are amazing. They are always changing. There are so many different types of clouds, it’s hard to ever get bored photographing them. So this week, I am sharing a few of my favorite cloud images, along with a few tips.

How to get great cloud photographs:

1. Keep your eye on the sky. The best way to find interesting clouds to photograph is to be looking at them. Pay attention to weather reports. Living here in Colorado, I tend to spend a lot of time outdoors on stormy days, especially when there is a possibility of severe weather (aka tornadoes). No, I haven’t photographed any tornadoes up close yet–the couple of times I saw one, I didn’t have a camera handy–but I have seen some really unique clouds.

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2. Find interesting landscapes. A cool landscape with great clouds is far more interesting than a cool landscape with a cloudless sky. Add some interest to your cloudscapes with good foregrounds.

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3. Watch the lighting. Depending on the angle of the sun, you can get some very different effects. Sun shining on the clouds has a very different look and feel than the sun behind a cloud.

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4. Photograph only the clouds with no landscape at all.  Cloudscapes can be interesting all on their own. Photographing them from an airplane window with no ground is also fun–and passes the time nicely on long trips. Additionally, cloud images with no landscape in them can be used to enhance a boring sky in another photograph.

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5. Don’t forget sunrise and sunset. Early and late times of day can give spectacular colors–and don’t assume that because the sun has dropped below the horizon that your cloud photography has to end. The colors often continue through twilight.

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6. When in doubt underexpose. Slightly underexposing allows for more detail. When they are overexposed, they lose detail and just look meh.

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7. Don’t be afraid to experiment in Photoshop. Adjusting contrast, vibrance, saturation, hue and HDR can all yield interesting effects and really make your photos pop.

So get out with your camera this weekend and make some great cloud photos.

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