The clouds, the clouds!!!! or how we can assume too much in our photography

August 06, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

It's amazing how you take things for granted. I live on a little island surrounded by the sea. This means we suffer from "inclement" weather on a regular basis. For "inclement" read "cloudy"! This, of course, makes it hard for outdoor photography that relies on the perfect light for any scene. You either have to be very lucky or very persistent. When you have a life i.e. kids, career, perhaps a significant other that doesn't really care about photography then persistent usually isn't an option.

I began to come to terms with "the clouds" a couple of years ago but I really started to build a relationship with them when I started delving deep into HDR. As my journey in this new way of working with photographs progressed I noticed cloudy overcast days produced great results, the cloudier the better!

So my photographs of abandoned Irish buildings are coming along nicely. I can usually expect interesting clouds here in Ireland and I'm rarely disappointed. This makes for very efficient use of limited time. It means I shoot more, process more, learn more, all in a shorter space of time.

So what's the problem I hear you say? The problem is that when you go to a country that doesn't suffer from the same weather, or maybe even a US State that's not surrounded by water you have to change your perceptions of the weather! On a trip to Kansas last April to continue with my "Ghost Houses of the Prairies" project I suffered from great weather for 6 of the 7 days I was there. I had been shooting under the clear blue skies and bright yellow sun but wasn't getting good results. The shot at the top above shows an abandoned farmhouse under these bright conditions. Luckily the weather turned for a day and I got to re-shoot the house under cloudy skies, as the shot at the bottom shows.

This last trip to Kansas at the start of October was 11 days long of which 9.5 were clear blues skies and bright yellow sun (of which, more next newsletter). Next time I'll be checking the long range weather forecast before I make any more assumptions about the weather!

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