The Epic Saga of Clouds in Photography

Now, I know what some are thinking, “How can the history of clouds in photos be an epic saga? That sounds dumb”. Well the truth is, it does sound dumb. Then again you don’t judge a photo based on how it sounds, do you. Anyway this will be a brief post on the importance clouds have played and continue to play, in photography, for both amateurs and professionals.

Ansel Adams. You may have heard of him. If you haven’t, get out from under your rock! Just kidding. Ansel Adams, is said to be the grandfather of landscape photography. His photos are recognized globally and are some of, if not, the best photos taken in the history of photography. This photo titled, The Tetons and the Snake River, is a beautiful example of the work Adams produced throughout his lifetime. Taken with a large aperture, using a combination of back and diffused lighting, and using a mid-range shutter speed; this photo is beyond beautiful. Many of his photographs are nature based and as seen below. Notice the use of clouds to give an ominous and powerful feeling to the mountains and sky.

Taken by Ansel Adams, who is said to be the grandfather of landscape photography. His photos are recognized globally and are some of, if not, the best photos taken in the history of photography. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Now this is just one photograph, from one photographer. I wouldn’t be convinced of the role clouds play in photography just yet. So…hear is Peter Essick.

Peter Essick, who was recently named one of the top 40 most influential nature photographers in the world, is one of my favorite photographers. His photos have been featured many times on National Geographic and are simply amazing. This photo titled, Thunderclouds, Garnet Lake, has great lighting coming from behind enormous thunderclouds, giving a sense of nature’s strength and beauty.

Taken by Peter Essick, who was recently named one of the top 40 most influential nature photographers in the world. Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

Okay, two photos from two established and well respected photographers. Here’s another.

Ian Plant. Another well respected nature photographer, Mr. Plant is an editor of Popular Photography, magazine and a frequent contributor to many other magazines. In this photo titled, Ebb and Flow, one will notice it was a long-exposure photograph with a large aperture and features great back-lighting of clouds and small islands. Yet, again more clouds!

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Photo courtesy of Google images/ ianplant.com

So, three professional photographers with three examples of clouds being frequent in their nature photography. What about amateurs?

I am considered an amateur so, here are just four, of several dozen of my favorite photographs containing…CLOUDS! Go figure.

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clouds

So, it is safe to say that clouds have and,will likely, always play a major role in landscape photography, not only because they occur naturally and photographers can’t make them leave, but because they give photos a sense of character and add drama. From professionals to amateurs, nearly everyone who owns a camera has taken a photo either of clouds or a photo where clouds are a major contributor to the photo’s subject.

So, the next time you see a cloud…thank it, for making photography interesting and sometimes challenging, I’m talking to you rain clouds!

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4 thoughts on “The Epic Saga of Clouds in Photography

  1. Amateur here too, but I’ve been pretty active with nature/landscape photography lately. Clouds hold a special place in my heart, but it’s always a constant struggle, because they’re so brightly lit, and you want to show the often very interesting ground as well. Why do we have to choose between the two! HDR is a partial solution, but it kills a lot of depth and dramatic effect in the photo. My best thought is to take pictures pointing as far away from the sun as you can. That Ian Plant photo does have plenty of overexposure, and the sun was really low, so that also can be a strategy.

    Liked by 1 person

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