Photographing Clouds

Photographing clouds is a favorite shot for photographers of all skill levels. Clouds are spontaneous in formation and can allure photographers who love to capture images of nature. You can take pictures of the clouds any time of year as long as the weather cooperates and you have a safe location to shoot from. The simplicity of the set up can be enticing to amateur photographers but without the right technical knowledge, you may not be capturing the high quality image you were hoping for. There are a few key factors to consider when heading outdoors to shot clouds.

There are a few basics of cloud photography you should be aware of before taking your first images of clouds. First, you need to bring a tripod with you. Clouds are commonly slow moving and require patience and a solid hand when preparing to capture the right image. Clouds are also not well defined objects so any blur will reduce the quality of your final image. A tripod will ensure you capture the clearest image possible.

Filters are vitally important to capturing the right image. You should always use a polarizing filter as this will help increase the contrast between the clouds and the sky. This will give you sharper images and help you define the various cloud shapes. If you are shooting on a sunny day with lots of shadows created by the clouds in the foreground, you will need to use a neutral density filter to lessen the affects of the contrast.

Composition is also very important when capturing images of clouds. Clouds can easily be photographed without much contextual information. Unfortunately, this often means that these images can be lacking dramaticism. Pay careful attention to the arrangement of the clouds as you are shooting. Anticipate the movement of the clouds as they enter your frame and wait for the arrangements that are more visually appealing. Consider shooting clouds as rays of light filter through to add a sense of movement to the final image. You can also shoot clouds as they overlap when smaller and lower clouds move in front of larger clouds.  As with all images you are capturing in the sky, beware of looking directly into the sun. With a bit of careful planning and patience you might be surprised at the beautiful images you could produce by spending an afternoon with your eyes in the clouds.

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