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Thread: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Yup, I am one of those people who take photos of "just clouds" for their interesting shapes, texture, light and feeling... And I don't think I've ever seen anyone post cloud photos here? Perhaps it is a fruitless exercise in photography?

    I've noticed that when one decides to edit a cloud photo, it is challenging.. fine tuning the white balance changes everything about the cloud photo (and who can remember if the cloud was white or orange or blue or grey at the time), and if one chooses to sharpen or lighten shadows the photo noise is quickly apparent...

    My only question is, is their a trick to it? IE; basic how to editing guidelines for clouds?

    Here are a few of my cloud shots (just the jpegs most as is, ie unedited), and I'm hoping that others will post their nicer cloud shots to share. I'm just curious.


    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed


    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed


    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed


    Bubble Clouds (Saskatoon.. never seen anything like these)

    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed


    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed


    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    And we have a monster...

    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed
    Last edited by Brownbear; 19th March 2013 at 12:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Hi Christina,

    And I don't think I've ever seen anyone post cloud photos here?
    I guess you missed Krissy's thread then?

    Perhaps it is a fruitless exercise in photography?
    No, but it is difficult to translate the enormity of what you see into a photograph effectively when the shot is like #3 - to achieve that, it probably needs to fill the viewer's screen and they need to sit quite close so it fills their peripheral vision.

    It would be worth removing the odd distractions from these, be it dust bunnies or even the odd bird.

    For me, the ones with better defined edges or shapes work best, so #5, #4 and #1.
    #5 is best because of the lighting.

    Might be wrong, but I think #3 is on its side, am I wrong?

    Cheers,

  3. #3
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Yes, I missed Krissy's thread. Thank you for the link.

    Good to know.

    Yes, sorry.. I'm just cleaning up my photos, came across my cloud photos and realized that editing them is a challenge, especially because of the color changes with white balance.

    Defined edges and shapes, that makes perfect sense! Thank you

    #3 is not on it's side... I took the photo while I was facing up to the clouds... ie from an upside down position.

    I would love to see some cloud photos from others.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Christina,



    I guess you missed Krissy's thread then?



    No, but it is difficult to translate the enormity of what you see into a photograph effectively when the shot is like #3 - to achieve that, it probably needs to fill the viewer's screen and they need to sit quite close so it fills their peripheral vision.

    It would be worth removing the odd distractions from these, be it dust bunnies or even the odd bird.

    For me, the ones with better defined edges or shapes work best, so #5, #4 and #1.
    #5 is best because of the lighting.

    Might be wrong, but I think #3 is on its side, am I wrong?

    Cheers,

  4. #4

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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    There have been a few others who also regularly photographed clouds.

    I often photograph clouds to add to my 'stock pile' of suitable backgrounds. Also, I sometimes leave a narrow strip of land, or sea, to put everything into perspective; and show which way is up/down.

    Took a few shots like that today but haven't looked at them yet to decide if they will be 'keepers'.

  5. #5
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    And I don't think I've ever seen anyone post cloud photos here? Perhaps it is a fruitless exercise in photography?
    Don't say that to the folks in the Cloud Appreciation Society. Photos of clouds come high on the list in that organisation.

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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Where do you find this stuff, Donald??!!

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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    OK, here is one from today. Just a narrow strip of sea to put the scene into context but the approaching shower clouds are the main attraction.

    Only a little bit of extra contrast applied for editing.

    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    F11 1/500 Iso 100

  8. #8
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Thank you Donald.. Wonderful link with some fabulous photos... I'm saving it as a cloud editing reference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Don't say that to the folks in the Cloud Appreciation Society. Photos of clouds come high on the list in that organisation.

  9. #9
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Thank you Geoff.. It's a truly gorgeous photo. (love the light) What white balance setting did you use?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    OK, here is one from today. Just a narrow strip of sea to put the scene into context bu


    t the approaching shower clouds are the main attraction.

    Only a little bit of extra contrast applied for editing.

    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    F11 1/500 Iso 100

  10. #10
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Don't say that to the folks in the Cloud Appreciation Society. Photos of clouds come high on the list in that organisation.
    Also, anyone with a window seat on an airplane with a camera.

  11. #11
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Christina,

    These are very nice. I think you are ready for a helicopter ride.

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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I would love to see some cloud photos from others.
    You might want to consider reviewing Alfred Stieglitz's photos of clouds taken at his home at Lake George, New York, in the 1920s. They are famous for their print quality (Stieglitz was considered a master printer), their simplicity, and their role in the development of his philosophy regarding photography.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    I've taken some great shots from airplane windows... well, most were really bad but I have a couple of good ones.

    I edited the cloud photo that I thought was prettiest, which was number 1... I used lightroom to increase the clarity and tackle a zillion dust spots, and my question has to do with setting the correct white balance for clouds

    WB - cloudy (which makes sense for clouds?)

    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    WB - auto

    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    WB - as shot

    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    I think the cloudy WB looks the best and it makes sense for clouds... Is this the case?


    And the bubble clouds for which auto WB worked fine, sharing because they are interesting but they are not not very attractive and likely headed for the trash.


    I added a gradient map in Elements 9 which lightened the top left hand side of the photo which brought out more detail which I found interesting... If I had to do it again, I likely couldn't.

    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Looking forward to seeing some cloud photos (with the WB set correctly) from others... thank you.

  14. #14
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Thank you Mike... I see that I have a lot to work on..

    Here is a link to one of his photos... stunning (in B&W but I won't go there, yet )

    http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/49.55.29


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    You might want to consider reviewing Alfred Stieglitz's photos of clouds taken at his home at Lake George, New York, in the 1920s. They are famous for their print quality (Stieglitz was considered a master printer), their simplicity, and their role in the development of his philosophy regarding photography.

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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Regarding the in-camera white balance: If I remember correctly, you're using a Nikon D80. The Auto White Balance in the camera is not very accurate and is much improved on later-generation camera models. When shooting outdoors during the daytime, I always used either "sunny" or "cloudy" and adjusted during post-processing as needed. I assume that the software you are using allows you to fine tune the white balance by adjusting the Kelvin temperature and possibly the tint.

  16. #16
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you. I usually use sunny for sunny with my Nikon D80 but auto for cloudy... So this is great for me to know for future.

    These cloud shots were taken with my Sony Alpha 200 DSLR, auto WB instead of sunny for some reason.

    Yes, both elements 9 and lightroom 4.1 allow me to adjust WB and I did it with the raw photo... It is just that the changes in colour are so dramatic with WB..


    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Regarding the in-camera white balance: If I remember correctly, you're using a Nikon D80. The Auto White Balance in the camera is not very accurate and is much improved on later-generation camera models. When shooting outdoors during the daytime, I always used either "sunny" or "cloudy" and adjusted during post-processing as needed. I assume that the software you are using allows you to fine tune the white balance by adjusting the Kelvin temperature and possibly the tint.

  17. #17
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Here is a shot from last summer. A couple more months and we'll have these in the Midwest, USA.

    Paul S

    Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

  18. #18
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Beautiful. Great detail.. thanks for sharing

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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    These are terrific, Christina (and others who have contributed). I'm inspired to keep looking up, and looking forward to warmer weather when the sky tends to get more interesting.

    I question whether there is such a thing as "correct" white balance - at least as a general formula - as the illumination is so variable for different cloud situations a wide range from warm to cool/amber to blue.

    Couldn't you "bracket" your shots - and then later try to remember (or check and select for best fidelity from live view, right then, if you have it)? Clouds give one plenty of time to cover a range. Or doesn't that make sense?

  20. #20
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Cloud Photography - Inspiration needed

    Thank you Mark

    Good point.. I guess I was thinking of WB in terms of representing the colouring and light when the photo was taken.

    Bracketing is something I have yet, to try. Will do. Thank you.

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