Ever since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by the sky. I vividly remember remember lying in the sand staring at the sky trying to make out the shapes each passing cloud made. My favourites were when they resembled animals.
Till this day I find myself staring at the clouds almost wishing that I could get lost in them. Even now, clouds place a major role in my personal work.
Whether it is long exposure or landscape, the clouds movement helps tell a story. Whether it is light, wispy and adds a touch of romance to the finish image, or dark, broody for a bit of drama, it all contributes to the final image. The great thing about living in London is that we can have up to 4 seasons in one day so you never get bored when out shooting.
The sky changes quickly, one minute it is unusual, dramatic and eye-catching and an hour later it is completely empty, boring.
On the days when the sky is simply more interesting than the landscape, that’s when I find that I have to switch things up a little. Those you likely to see me at the oddest angle with the camera pointing up of simply myself on the floor trying find a way to tell my story.
What makes the sky so fascinating is that it is always changing. Clouds come and go, change in shape and size or form fascinating patterns that radiate in all directions.
Some times only a few can be seen or they are just motionless or simply none in the sky.
On my lucky days, they are light and fluffy almost like candy floss. Who can resist those?
On some days, they are rushing past in every direction almost as though they are in the rush like everyone in London during rush hour. Bumping past each other as if the destination is more important the journey.
On stormy days, clouds simply hide the sun and plunges us into a temporary darkness while thunderclaps and lightning flashes add drama. At dawn and dusk, the sky lights up like fire making the cloud become a kaleidoscope of slowly flickering flame, dancing red, orange, yellow, pink, purple and blue.
As photographer, I am lucky enough to witness and truly appreciate the gift that this natural beauty is. But for some reasons, some of us are just simply more preoccupied by what is happening on the ground.
On the days that there’s truly a show to photograph, I am happy to forget everything else. I grab my wide angle lens and head out. Not only it is my favourite lens, it truly allows me to include the landscape as well as the sky.
One of my favourite photographer is Ansel Adams and my favourite images are the ones where the horizon is dropped and only a slither of the landscape is included in the image. What makes them stand out to me is the the dramatic sky. Big skies only look big when you’ve got something to compare it to. A good ratio between the sky and your background to make it work.
Including the sky is not as easy as it seems. When I started, I realised that the the sky is usually overexposed and the foreground too dark which makes it for a very harsh contrasts. Even when I manage to get a perfectly exposed sky, the foreground is always too dark in comparison.What I usually do here is dial anything from +1/3 to +2 of exposure compensation and shoot again. As a few practise, it will become instinctive.
The other option is to use Neutral Density filter. A 0.6ND hard or soft grad reduces the light by 2 stops and without effecting the foreground. It allows to better control the exposure between the sky and the foreground.