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Photographing Clouds

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Winter weather produces some dramatic cloud formations, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Best of all they're free to view!

All that lovely colour splashing over the clouds is caused by warm Gulf Stream air running into cold Arctic air.  These fiery skies only last for a few minutes so it's good to have your camera ready if you want to capture the event.

The wonderful thing about photographing clouds is that you don't need to travel far.  You may even be able to do it from a window in your home.

But clouds can make a challenging subject to photograph.  They are never the same, always moving, always changing and they can produce some breathtaking images.  Here are a few tips for capturing their drama...

1.  Use a tripod.  Clouds are constantly moving, but you need to keep your camera steady.  Rest your camera on a solid, fixed support when you take the shot.

2.  Avoid photographing in the middle of the day.  The light at this time of day is very strong and you'll miss the subtle variations in colours.  Early morning and late afternoon are the best times.

3.  If you can choose the film speed on your camera choose a slower speed.  Keep it under 200.  Faster speeds create 'fuzzy' images which look like they were taken through a dusty lens.

4.  If you have one, use a polarising filter on the front of your lens.  Some cameras are equipped with a sunrise/sunset setting which has a similar effect.

5.  If your photos don't turn out as dramatic as you'd hoped try adding a bit more contrast in your photo editing program.  This will create an effect similar to putting a polarising filter on your lens.  It adds more definition between the clouds and the background sky.

6.  Never look directly at the sun, or through your camera viewfinder.  This can damage your eyes.

Some of the drama of skyscapes can be lost on a bright computer screen, so you might want to print out your best shots, or have them printed by one of the online photo printing services.

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