Cloudscapes are photographs of, well, clouds. This project is loosely inspired by the Equivalents of Alfred Stieglitz. His Equivalents were black and white images of clouds, usually without a horizon, and are generally considered to be the first abstract photographs. My Big Skies images are not abstract, as they all do have a horizon. My horizons, however, are minimized; a narrow strip along the bottom of the images to anchor the sky to the earth and to add context. There is no doubt that the sky is the primary focus of these photographs. My other inspiration for this project is that the sky is the predominant feature of the prairies where I do much of my shooting. Shooting landscapes is useless on a clear blue day!
These photographs are all panoramas of between five and fifteen images – from five vertical images across to three rows of five images each. This results in very large files which can of course also be printed at a very large scale, as large as 30×40 inches. They are also all HDR (high dynamic range). This means that each individual image is composed of three to nine separate images shot at different exposures. The use of HDR is essential for this project. The use of HDR makes the clouds much more dramatic. This is a result of the clouds moving if ever so slightly between exposures. Just as important a factor in my choosing to use HDR is that many photographs are taken at sunrise or sunset, often looking directly into the sun. It is impossible to capture the total range of light between the sun and the shadows in these images in a single exposure.
All of these images are shot either at sunrise, sunset, or during stormy weather. I am looking for the most dramatic combination of air, water and light that I can find, and that’s exactly what these photographs are: Air, Water, and Light.