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On Clouds

Published February 7th, 2013

I was always fascinated by clouds, they've always seemed so lively and temperamental to me. Ever since I was a kid really - maybe it was my mother, a keen meteorologist, pointing them out to me all the time.

When I first got involved with black and white photography one of the things I immediately tried to shoot was landscapes. Who hasn't seen those striking black and white images of nature, impecably transferring an ominous intimacy? That's what I was trying to shoot, and failed. I was quick to see what was wrong with my pictures. In almost all of them, there was a major element of the composition "ruining" the photograph - the sky.

The sky can be an awesome feature in almost any colour landscape photograph. Load up on some Velvia slide, spend some time editing to get your colours right and WHAM! that blue sky can make the most boring of photos look awesome. Switch to the black and white domain, that sky can very easily transform into the most boring, flat and mundane expansion of grey you can imagine. I needed to spice things up.

And then I noticed clouds. That same little cloud that could "ruin" a perfect blue sky for a photo could now be a major point of interest in a grey sky. But how do I show it? How do I brind this little cloud forward, especially when it wants to hide and blend in with the grey sky? Surely I can get stuff done by editing the picture. But I became interested in getting this right on camera, with minimal editing involved, just to see if I can pull it off.

This resulted in a series of photographs trying to do just that, most taken from my old studio flat overlooking Brandon Hill, Bristol. I was quite happy with them, I showed them to people and they seemed to like them too, which was nice. As time passed, I would often shoot clouds. I would sit in my room, wanting to go develop a roll of film at the darkroom and knowing there were a couple of unexposed frames still left on it; and I would just shoot the clouds passing out of my window.

Of all those later pictures, almost none got the attention (from me) that I gave to that initial series. Some didn't really see the light of day after they left the darkroom. I kind of lost interest in them, I wanted to explore other stuff...but I would still shoot those pictures. Funnily enough, when I started uploading pictures here on 500px those initial cloud photos were among the most pleasantly received pictures, people seemed to like them. And that must have subconciously revived my interest in them. Not long after, I was reading up on the works of Alfred Steiglitz, a man who as it turns out also had a thing for shooting clouds.

I've decided, for better or for worse, that my cloud photos probably deserve some more attention from me - hence the creation of cloudcloud ( And maybe some of them can go up here and sit along those 4 original pictures. And maybe, just maybe, some people will see them and go "Ah that looks nice."

And that would be nice indeed, and the pictures would be happy. And maybe I'll be happy with them.

Cloudy Skies #1

Cloudy Skies #2

Between Cranes

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