Attention All Cloudspotters
You can’t look around when you’re looking up, so we’ve had a look around for you.
If you have cloud news that you think we should include here, please email it to us at: email@example.com.
Charlie Waite, world-renowned landscape photographer and CAS Member 39,333, tells us why the sky is one of the most important things to consider when creating a successful landscape photograph.
Any landscape photographer who takes their photography seriously has to consider the sky. If the sky seems to be lacking in interest and appears to have little character then it may be better to wait until it does or possibly leave the sky out of the image altogether. The sky should be in keeping with the photographer’s objective and should be integral to the overall composition. It is a mistake to simply accept the prevailing sky as it is found; no painter would, so why would a landscape photographer?
I have often found that it is of benefit to establish the wind direction before setting up the tripod and beginning the whole business of making an image. There have been many an occasion when the sky on offer is dull and having no relationship with the land beneath and yet a glance over my shoulder reveals that in perhaps in as little as thirty minutes, there will be ravishing sky on offer; waiting is often the key and if you are serious, it matters not how long you have to wait.
How is a ‘good sky’ defined? Puffy white continents of cumulous clouds, or the high cirrus that I particularly favour. One thing is sure, the sky will never be the same twice unless it is monotonous blue – as uninteresting, at least to landscape photographers, as a low pressure ‘grey duvet’ sky.
Many years ago, I remember finding some cylindrical bales, which then were still an unusual sight. They had taken over from the rectangular blocks that one rarely sees these days. I had seen a collection of building cumulous cloud across to the west, which was uncannily similar in shape to the bales in front of me. Within fifteen minutes and barely changing shape, they had miraculously arrived and placed themselves directly above the bales echoing them so precisely that I could have wept with joy.
If clouds are your thing (and as you are reading this, I expect they are) then perhaps the following thoughts on making the most of clouds in a landscape photograph will be of interest.
1. The polarising filter is mandatory for pronouncing clouds against a background sky but have a look through the filter first to see the effect that it may have on the sky prior to fitting it to the camera. Depending on the angle of reflection, the polararising filter removes some ‘white light reflection’ from surfaces and is not advised if the sky is plain blue with no clouds, as the blue sky may appear too violet or indigo. People who like to fish may often use polarising sunglasses as they remove reflection from the surface of the water. Reflections of sky and clouds should always be darker than the sky itself.
2. If the sky appears too bright, consider acquiring a neutral density graduated filter, which will reduce exposure in the sky area. They can be used in conjunction with a polarizer. Beware using a graduated filter in a mountain scene as the peaks of the mountains may receive underexposure and this will be noticeable.
3. Remember clouds have characters. See them as living things and think carefully about where you crop them in your frame and if clouds are reflected in water, try and include them in their entirety.
4. Have a look at the landscape beneath and see if there is a possibility of a link between the shape of the clouds and the land beneath. A beach is good for this where you may find some patterns presented in the sand by a retreating tide and possibly cirrus cloud making a good relationship between the above and the below.
5. Always look up to see what the clouds are doing so that you can make decisions as to what clouds you would like to include in your photograph.
Charlie Waite is one of the most celebrated English landscape photographers. He is the owner and founder of Light and Land, Europe’s leading photographic workshop and tour company and has launched two photography competitions: UK Landscape Photographer of the Year (now in its ninth year) and American Photographer of the Year (in its second year). In 2014 Charlie was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society.
Cloud Appreciation Society founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, recently collaborated with Rodale’s Organic Life to write an article about different cloud types including the “King of Clouds” shown here, roll clouds and mamma along with several others.
The article includes wonderful images and descriptions written by Gavin and can be seen in full on Rodale’s Organic Life website.
Les Cowley (creator of the Atmospheric Optics website), Raymond Lee (US Naval Academy & co-author of Rainbow Bridge) joined forces with Society founder Gavin Pretor-Pinney to find an explanation for this fascinating optical effect filmed by the Planche family while driving through Mississippi. The strange triangle of light in the sky has become know as “The Mississippi Triangle”. What caused it to appear? You can see the explanation that they three of them came up with on this entry for the Optics Picture of the Day.
Our friends at the World Meteorological Organisation have asked for help from our members. They’re working on a new edition of the official reference book on the classification of clouds, the International Cloud Atlas, and they are currently gathering photographs to include. We’ve helped out with our competition to find a photograph of the new ‘asperitas’ cloud but the WMO are also looking for good examples of a range of different cloud types. If you like the sound of your photograph becoming an international cloud reference image, you can sign up and find our more on the WMO Image Submission page.
On Monday, 5th October, 7pm at The Tobacco Factory, Bristol Cloud Appreciation Society founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, will be amongst the speakers at the launch of the hit event series 5×15 in Bristol.
“5 speakers. 15 minutes each. No scripts. True stories of passion, obsession and adventure for the incurably curious…”
Please visit their website for full details.
John Metcalf of CityLab.com recently posted an article about “asperitas,” the first new cloud type identified since 1951 and which the WMO will include in its revised 2016 International Cloud Atlas. The WMO have asked the Cloud Appreciation Society to provide a photograph if this new cloud type and we have recently launched a competition to find the best image with the winner to be announced at the Escape to the Clouds Conference in September.
John’s article has some wonderful images and you can read it in full here.
Later this month, we are holding our first major gathering on Saturday 26 September at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Marking ten years of the Society, it will be a celebration of the Science, Art and Culture of the Sky, and it’s going to be a truly international affair, with cloudspotters joining us from the US, Poland, Finland, Sweden, Germany, France, Switzerland and elsewhere.
All six of our amazing speakers are ready to inspire and inform, and we have a host of delightful ‘shorts’ taking place between talks. As a taster, here is the award-winning musician Lisa Knapp’s ‘Shipping Song’, which she will be performing for us on the day.
Moatti Masters|Contemporary is pleased to present a major
exhibition of works by the Italian landscape painter Alberto
Bertoldi at their gallery premises on Mount Street in Mayfair,
London. The exhibition brings together a recent collection of
works alongside special commissions from the artist’s Cloud
series, being shown for the first time in the UK. Alberto Bertoldi
(b. 1955) began staging award-wining solo shows across Italy in
the early 1990’s, before going on to exhibit worldwide at galleries
and shows including Daegu in South Korea, Galerie
Zur.Hofstatt in Basel, Hermitage Gallery in Texas, USA, and
Society Redaktionfest in Vienna. In 2012 he exhibited at the 54TH
Venice Biennale, under the curatorship of Vittorio Sgarbi. He
has been awarded numerous prizes throughout his career
including the Purchase Award and Solo Artist Award from Forni
Gallery. Alberto Bertoldi’s Cloud works represent a
contemporary exploration of the Classical traditions of “plein
air” painting, capturing the beauty of painting natural light in all
its power and exploring the human obsession with cloud
formations. This is the inaugural show for Moatti
Masters|Contemporary – a new venture by Emmanuel Moatti
combining his 30 years career in old masters with his passion for
collecting contemporary art, to open a gallery space connecting
the two disciplines and work with living fine artists who draw
inspiration from the art-historical language, in order to create a
Back in 2011 we wrote a news item about the strange lights that can sometimes be seen dancing in the sky above storm clouds – Dancing Clouds. We saw in a recent post by the Bad Astronomer at Slate Magazine that these amazing light effects, caused by the ice crystals above the storm cloud aligning with the shifting electrostatic fields caused by lightening strikes below, were given a name back in 1971.
In a letter to Nature Magazine about a sighting in 1970, this amazing light effect was named “A Crown Flash”.