Tuesday, January 3, 2012

P24: clouds and sky

On the whole I have been trying to reduce the amount of sky in my photographs, in many cases opting to completely remove it.  My goal has been to bring the eye of the observer into the photo.  A photograph with a lot of sky is usually one in which objects are whole, buildings are framed within the image, tops of trees can be seen.  I find that I tend to step back from such images and look at the object rather than the photograph.  By cutting out the sky, or tops of trees/buildings, this brings the viewer into the photo, they duck under the top of the frame and explore the image, wanting to know why there is no sky. However, I enjoy dramatic skies and when they present themselves do my best to try and capture their essence.  I have not presented many of these previously, rejecting them as too picturesque!  Here is a chance to revel in the glory of the sky.

As the goal here is to consider how clouds populate the sky, I have gone back through all photos taken for this course and selected 12 that I think well describe the skies that we enjoy here in the south of Germany.  Bavaria is indeed famous for the beauty of it's summer sky, the flag of the Lande is a blue/white diagonal checker, a direct representation of the Blau/Weiss Himmel (Blue/White Heaven) summer sky, puffy clouds set against a perfect blue background. My first two photographs portray this perfect vision of summer heaven.  The first is in the Englischer Garten on the way to a summer beer garden!  The second shows the new Allianz arena, home to Munich's football teams and a mirror to the white clouds in the sky.

These clouds do come at a cost, a summers day in Munich is generally around 28-32 degrees and this amount of heat starts to generate bigger and angrier clouds.  The next 3 photographs are all taken in the Olympiagelande, images rejected from my Assignment 1 submission, but kept for this project.  As the day heads into evening the clouds build and thunder storms become a real possibility.  However, as the clouds build they create wonderful patterns against the strong summer sun.

The next 2 photographs look at partial and almost full cloud cover.  Here I have had to work to ensure that there is detail in the ground as well as the clouds, the contrast in light can be quite extreme.  In both cases it is close to dusk or dawn and so some colour is starting to appear in the clouds.

Complete cloud cover can be a challenge, as the sky often appears completely white and featureless, an appearance I quite like, but not good for a study of clouds.  However, sometimes we get two layers  the lower comprised of individual fluffy white clouds with a higher flat coloured layer.  In this case the higher acts much like the blue sky earlier and enough contrast can be achieved to bring out some detail in the clouds.  This generates a combination of an interesting sky with a flat soft lighting that brings out the colours of the ground far better:

Another form of cloud is man made, the contrails left by high flying jets.  Here I have tried to compose an image that uses the contrails and a stream to generate a diminishing perspective.

The previous shot was taken early in the morning as part of my transient light project.  The following was taken in a very similar location looking slightly further to the right and capturing yet another form of sky, high wispy clouds softening the blue of the morning.

Finally I turn to sunset and another cloudscape, once more a different form of cloud, very thin, but enough to reflect the dying light of the sun.

I finish with a study of the structure of a very low cloud, almost fog, but not quite touching the ground.  The sun is almost penetrating this thin layer, soon it will be evaporated ion the heat of the day.  This very ethereal image is short lived.

As I mentioned in my preamble to this set, my current mood leads to images with little or no sky in them.  I do this deliberately and for a reason, however, there is something enriching in a study of clouds.  This brings to mind a very precious book, "The Sky Book" by Richard Misrach, whose work is simply a study of the sky, often at night, but also in the twilight of dawn and dusk.  I hope to have some time to comment more completely on his work.

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