Travel Photo Thursday: Cue the Clouds

Travel Photo Thursday: Cue the Clouds

Cloudy days. Good news and bad news for photographers.

Bad news: Not much light means colors can be washed out.

Good news: Not much light means shadows won’t obscure features, such as people’s faces.

Bikes on a Bridge, Amsterdam

Bad news: Not much light means few, if any, shadows will be cast to create contrast.

Happy medium: Just enough clouds added to your image without blocking all of the sunlight.

Heavenly Site

This “high rise Greek Temple” along the river in Chicago would have been a boring subject on a Office Tower, Chicago Riverbright, sunny, cloudless day. In fact, sunlight reflecting off the windows might have made it nigh impossible to photograph this office tower.

On the other hand, complete cloud cover probably would have created a flat, lifeless image.

In this shot, the patches of blue separating the clouds makes the top of the building seem to touch the heavens.  The sky reflecting onto the glass surface of the structure  suggests that earthbound mortals are gazing upward, imploring the gods not to rain on tomorrow’s baseball game at Wrigley Field.

How Now, Grazing Cows?

These “future Big Macs” grazing in a meadow near Abbott’s Lagoon in Point Reyes National Seashore would not have contrasted very well with the green hills in the background if the skies had been cloudy all day.

Grazing Cows, Point Reyes National Seashore

But clear-blue skies would have put me on the horns of a dilemma: Either use the same composition, but with two-thirds of the image being a featureless sheet of blue, or place the crest of the hills closer to the top of the frame, the cattle in the center, leaving a large, flat green grassy plain below/

Mother Nature solved the problem for me by adding some puffy cumuli as well as streaky high-altitude clouds over the hills.

The Plane Truth

My point-and-shoot Canon Elph has a built-in lens with fairly limited optical zoom capability. So photographing small subjects, like birds, that aren’t too faraway from me, is problematic. (“See that little dark dot? That’s a Cactus Wren!”)

Likewise, trying to get a sizeable image of a large object that is a long distance away from the camera is difficult. (“See that little dark dot? That’s a Grizzly Bear!”)

Small Plane, Gnoss Field, Novato, CaliforniaIn both situations, those viewing my photos are likely to respond “If you say so.”

When I  hike along a marshy area south of a general aviation airport in the county were I live, I usually see small aircraft flying a few hundred—or may a thousand feet—overhead. But they are rarely close enough for me to fill the frame with a photo of them.

If the sky above the airport is blue as a Robin’s egg, these relatively diminutive craft would simply be another undistinguished dark dot. (“That really is a Beechcraft Bonanza, you know!”)

But throw in some gauzy wisps of clouds wrapped around that blue sky and the dot morphs into an aircraft winging its way westward.

(Click on an image to enlarge to full-size. Visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more of this week’s Travel Photo Thursday shots.)

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5 Replies to “Travel Photo Thursday: Cue the Clouds”

  1. I finally got a glimpse of a blue sky in Amsterdam and what a difference it made in my photos. Greytone (even with color setting) suddenly turned the drab old city into a magical one.

  2. I was just thumbing through some cloud pictures the other day and thinking I should do a TTP with them. You beat me to it. I particularly like the thought of using the clouds as a “design element” as in the cows/hills/clouds picture. All very nice pix.

  3. Fab shots, Dick. The clouds add so much to each of them. Just enough contrast and/or blue in each of them, for a nice contrast. I think the first shot is my favorite.

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