Friday, October 2, 2015

Want Dramatic Skies In Your Photographs? Photograph When The Sky Is Dramatic!

Glacier Point Infrared - Yosemite National Park, California
Want dramatic skies in your photographs? The answer is simple: be out with a camera in your hand photographing when the sky is dramatic! When a storm is moving through your area you have a good chance of capturing something interesting, especially when the storm is building, approaching or clearing.

"For me, the most memorable landscape photos almost always have a sky that is full of interest, and most often, that interest comes from clouds," photographer Darwin Wiggett said. "Give me a weather forecast of mixed sun and cloud, and I am in photographic heaven."

Dramatic clouds can turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary photograph. The difference can be significant. This is a make-or-break kind of thing.
Clouds Over Desert Mountains - Glendale, Nevada
I've said before that great photography is about being at the right place at the right time with photographic vision. That might mean being outdoors with your camera when everyone else is heading indoors. Photographer Richard Steinheimer used to say something to the effect of, "Photography is being in the right place at the right time, and that often means being someplace that other people are not willing to go."

For dramatic skies, you may have to be outdoors when others are not. But it might simply mean being out. For example, in the southwestern United States, summer often means afternoon thunderstorms. As those build the sky becomes a photographer's dream. In your area it may be something completely different, but surely wherever you are there are times when the sky is partly cloudy. You just need to make sure to take advantage of it.

To capture dramatic skies the big thing is, when you see clouds in the sky, to have your camera ready and actively look for opportunities to use it. It's very simple. But it does require action--if you don't make an effort to be out when the conditions are right the dramatic sky photographs will remain elusive.


  1. I live in Florida, where its always storming half the sky and sunny on the other. But we live in flatlands with nothing pretty to compose against it.

    These are great tips to stay on my toes, thanks! As usual.

    1. I think, in your case, not having anything "pretty" to compose a dramatic sky with is a limitation, but if you can work through that, with creativity, you can come up with something amazing. Limitations improve art because it forces you to think outside-the-box. Thanks for commenting! --Ritchie Roesch