Storm clouds over a pond can provide a unique composition. (John Enman Photo)

Storm clouds over a pond can provide a unique composition. (John Enman Photo)

Tips on photographing storm clouds

When I saw the very dark sky moving towards me from the east I picked things up around my yard that I didn’t want to get wet and went inside to wait for the wind and rain I thought was coming. However, the angry looking clouds just split and filled the sky on both sides of the valley with only a slight breeze and not so much as a raindrop. I had rushed to put things away and my choice was now to just read, watch TV, or go outside and make some interesting photographs.

It was a perfect time to pack cameras in my car for a lazy drive for photos of the sky. To be clear, I am not much interested in pointing a camera at only the sky, day or night, but I do like clouds in the sky when I am shooting a landscape. A clear blue sky or a flat overcast sky isn’t as interesting as a sky with clouds, and a storm cloud filled sky is the best.

I put two cameras on the seat of my car set at ISO 800. One was mounted with my 150-600mm lens and the other (the IR converted camera) had a 20-40mm lens. I thought I might get a chance to photograph birds or geese with the long lens and I included my infrared converted camera because I knew it would do a better job on the clouds.

The storm clouds moved around and around. I kept them at my back and drove west along the winding country road then turned south when I reached the highway. I stopped whenever I saw some feature that I thought might look good with those dramatic clouds behind it.

I passed the geese pond, but the dark and flat sky above it that wasn’t good for the pond scenic I was hoping for. The geese were off in the distance and the turtles were hiding so I didn’t bother to stop. Nevertheless, just down the road there were some prairie dogs in the field that made good subjects for the long lens.

I had to pick my direction to get good sky. West and north were good. East and south were not.

See something, stop the car, get out with my camera, point it…change my mind because the light or sky was bad; get back in the car to search again. If one is not in a hurry all that in-and-out-and-starting again is great fun. I expected the storm and decided photographing the cloudy landscape was a good way to spend my time until the storm arrived.

As I said, clouds are better with infrared. With IR I always look forward to spending some creative time processing the files with more than one of the programs I have on my computer. And that processing (manipulating is a better word) always makes a dramatic sky.

The storm never reached me, but the day became very dark and I returned home and loaded images from my memory cards on my computer to edit and play with what I photographed.

I think anytime is a good time to take a drive with a camera. There is always something to photograph in any weather.

Stay safe and be creative. These are my thoughts for this week. Contact me at www.enmanscamera.com or emcam@telus.net.

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