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A distinctive sky can make or break a picture. Skies provide character and help to tell the story of the image.
What happens up in the sky directly affects photographic composition and helps create mood and atmosphere.
Great skies can happen at any time of day, not just dawn and dusk. If you pack up for the day when the sun comes up, then you may well miss out on some of the best outdoors photography you will ever take.
Here is a hand picked selection of my photographs that I feel are compositionally dependant on what the sky was doing when I took the photo.
I like to see photographs intuitively. What I mean is I wander around the landscape not necessarily thinking about taking a photograph, and I only stop and create a composition when I have an intuitive moment.
So, with these, it was the sky that inspired me as much as anything else. Had the skies been different in some way, I would have changed the composition.
Even if the sky was dawn/dusk glorious, I would have changed the compositions to what you see here. Again, it is light that determines the composition. Light is an element like any other that needs to be placed correctly in a photograph, in order to draw the viewer in.
When light scatters through clouds, it is amazing the variety of colours and even mood and atmosphere that is created. Often it is just a moment.
From dark grey skies to multicoloured purples, oranges and reds.
Blank skies can also be used as that much loved photographic element...the 'negative space'.
From a mass of 'ugly' vapour trails, to a beautiful sunrise, to faces in clouds, skies provide an essential element to producing great outdoor images
Sometimes just the sky will do. I have loads of photos of skies. Just point the camera up when the light is right and capture really simple compositions, even if they are of hundreds of ugly vapour trails.
Clouds contain loads of details. There is almost a fractal element to them. What I mean is that they seem to contain more detail the more you zoom in. It means that you have to be careful about how much detail you show in your final photograph.
Not showing enough detail may not do the composition justice. Think at the computer what you was thinking at the time of capture. What feelings do you want to convey.
However, post-processing so that lots of detail is showing in the clouds can easily be overdone. For me I will always try to recreate what I saw and felt at the time of taking the photo.