Until recently, I viewed clouds as unimportant from a photographer’s perspective, drifting by in the sky, often blocking my view of a distant mountain horizon.
Clouds are masses of ice or water suspended in the atmosphere. While they may seem dull and irritating even to a landscape mountain photographer, you can create incredible works of art with them that brighten any interior setting.
Furthermore, this type of cloudscape photography sells for a lot of money in the domestic and commercial markets.
Photos of clouds offer us a sense of escape as they move gracefully and swirl. Perspective cheats us, however; for example, that cloud can’t be a mere 50 metres away, can it? Perhaps it can.
In lockdown, the sky has symbolised expansiveness, representing the potential to imagine, dream, and think beyond our four walls.
The sky seems to make humans happy, and as a result, cloudscape photography has been in high demand in the housing market, hospitals, prisons, and health clinics, where photos of clouds help to calm our minds and souls.
Looking up at the sky increases the range of our visual system and, in turn, engages our imagination, says ecotherapist Helen Edwards. Plus, there’s something comforting about the sky’s continual presence, she adds, calling it “a universal presence beyond our control.”Source: Huffington Post.
From the Conservation newsletter, the cumulonimbus cloud image below illustrates heavy rain and thunder on the horizon. This photo appeals to me because it offers a sense of impending doom, reminding me that Mother Nature cannot be outrun or overpowered.
In addition, the view of the distant horizon narrows my field of view, thus relaxing my eyes.
In contrast, the image below, photographed by Thomas Finkler and titled 3 Trees, a Touch of Blue, immediately evokes a sense of freedom, ease, peacefulness, and letting go.
The colours that Thomas Finkler has captured in this image evoke a certain mood for the viewer, from lightness to melancholy.
Thomas has made great use of the mellower colours in this image, which make us feel warmer and more comfortable than blues.
The above photo, one of my all-time favourites, was taken by Benjamin Everett. Benjamin has opted for a more abstract approach, and it works well, in my opinion.
When we look at abstract art, we must use more imagination to process what is happening. Abstract art activates the brain’s visual cortex, which might associate some aspects with what we know, such as discernible features like the faces used in Picasso’s cubist paintings.
Though Benjamin’s illustration is a ‘landscape photo,’ it evokes feelings and emotions with its deep and light colours and natural lines.
Abstract photography is known for being an effective method for reducing the effects of anxiety. Science has shown that abstract art activates areas in the brain responsible for problem-solving and emotion regulation, thus reducing stress.
The image above, Purple Haze, illustrates the North Sea on a quiet stretch of the North Norfolk coastal path. I photographed it several years ago during troubled times past sunset.
Sunset photography can boost our mood and make us feel good. This image illustrates the pink hour, which occurs at sunrise or sunset and features predominantly orange, yellow or pink colours.
During these times, the shadows are softer, less pronounced and more elongated than during the full day.
Pink hour cloudscape photography can be calming and awe-inspiring, helping you feel more relaxed, present, and content. It’s also a great way to appreciate the beauty of the natural world, which can boost your overall well-being.
The image above illustrates lenticular clouds during sunrise floating gracefully over a freshly ploughed field. Lenticular clouds form when wind runs perpendicular to a mountain or mountain chain.
Webneel has made excellent use of the foreground in this image, which sets the scene, adds context to the subject and draws the viewer into the photo and towards the subject.
Combining landscape and unusual cloudscape photography can work exceptionally well in a hospital or prison environment by reducing stress.
Looking at calming pictures is a form of mindfulness meditation, in which you maintain your attention or awareness of a present moment through meditation.
If you’ve ever heard the phrases “zone out” or “take a mental vacation”, that’s precisely what calming pictures can do for your mind and, therefore, your overall wellness.
Cloudscape photography is the photography of clouds or the sky during day and night.
Clouds are a timeless subject that can help reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety, fear, and depression and have a calming effect on the mind and soul.
The more drama you shoot as a photographer, the better.
Cloudscape photography is one of the few times you want more drama rather than less! Dramatic shots look more relaxed and more memorable.
To capture this drama, watch for a day with stormy weather and grey clouds on the horizon.
Drama is created when the sun barely peeks out from behind the clouds on a day like described above, offering some much-needed backlighting for contrast.
Without this light, the clouds will only appear as a dark mass. The sun will often come out a bit after a rainstorm, so be vigilant for a perfect cloudscape shot in that situation.
Just bide your time and wait for the sun to start peeking out; you can’t control the sun, after all.
To guard against wind, rely on a sturdy tripod for your shots. Only one thing left to do: Set your aperture between f/11 and f/32. This will afford you a deeper depth of field.
As mentioned, cloudscape photography is highly demanded in clinical and prison settings, care facilities, and the housing market because it helps minimise the effects of stress, increases the range of our visual system, and engages our imagination.
J. J. Williamson | The Norfolk Photographer
My name is Jon Williamson. I’m an ethical photographer and writer with fifteen years of experience in the industry. I shoot landscapes, seascapes, riverscapes, fine art, and portraits. I also teach workshops, lead tours, and provide one-on-one photography feedback.