Moonrise in the Afternoon

Moonrise in late afternoon. While I was looking for photo subjects in the yard, I thought the moon looked interesting with the thin cloud cover. Not great, but something for the blog.

Mackerel Sky

As we were taking a walk, we saw this unusual cloud formations. I do not think I ever saw this before, or maybe I just was not looking. After researching on the internet, it seems to be called a Mackerel Sky. I only had my iPhone with me and I did not want to use the panorama mode. I shot 3 vertical images with a lot of overlap so I could assemble them in Photoshop. If I did not allow for a lot of overlap, it would have been a problem assembling them without a lot of distortion because of the small iPhone lens.

These clouds form high in the sky, and the afternoon sun catching their underbellies gives them a dappled, silvery sheen.

That’s because cirrus clouds – thin, wispy, collections of ice crystals – are harbingers of change. They form from small amounts of moisture in the air ahead of approaching weather fronts. As a front draws nearer, sturdier clouds gather and the weather changes.

Mackerel-type cirrocumulus can be an indicator of warm winds lifting up and flowing out from a distant thunderstorm. The ripples form when humid air at the far-flung edges of the storm system pushes past clear, cool air high in the sky. It’s the resistance of the cool air to this motion that causes the ripples.

Ridges of cloud form where water vapour cools and condenses, while troughs of space form where it warms and re-evaporates. When gentle ripples begin to form across the entire sky, it’s a good bet that the storm or its remnants will arrive in just a few hours.

I  guess at my age I am still learning something new! Now I just have to Remember IT!

mackeral sky v3

Eye Of The Sky

I liked this cloud formation we saw at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, in Cambridge, Maryland. I never saw one that sort of  looked like a “Porthole” or Doughnut and in such a large area. I tried a few different compositions, no foreground, foreground in vertical and horizontal formats. All were shot with a 17-40mm at 17mm.

Cloudscape v1 17mm_80I9479Cloudscape 17mm v1 BWR_80I9482

Early Morning Cloudscape Panorama

I liked the colors and shapes of these early morning clouds. I did not want to use a wide angle lens because I did not want a lot of foreground and darker sky above the clouds. I used a 400mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter with a series of 7 overlapping handheld images combined in Photoshop CC2017. This way I can also print it quite large if I wanted.


Another one of my favorite subjects are what I call Cloudscapes, instead of landscapes I look up. Fluffy clouds and bright colors make interesting subjects. Sunrises and sunsets help add another color dimension. They can also have an Artsy Abstract look and feel. A lot of my Cloudscapes I shoot with my iPhone using the app ProCamera. It gives you +&- exposure control, a nice HDR feature and a variety of low light shooting features.

clouds IMG_2615v2

sky clouds IMG_3792 v2

Early Morning Skies

cf clouds sky v1_43G0190

CF GBH hiFlight_43G0158

cf sky clouds_43G0179

GBH CF HiFlight v1_43G0160


Often while I am out in the field, I notice great cloud formations. So instead of photographing landscapes, I go for Skyscapes. They can be very dramatic and more fun then the landscapes I was thinking of when I started out. Sometimes the sky is just so dramatic you cannot not photograph them. Any lens seems to work well for this, depending on the effect and composition you are thinking of and the amount of obstacles in your way. Sometimes I use just the single frame for my composition. At other times, I shoot a panoramic series to stitch together later. I usually manually make my own in Photoshop, but there are many programs you can use to automatically do this. Photoshop can do this also, some friends use PTgui, but there are many you can use and there are some free ones you can download. Many times when I am out with a long telephoto on my main camera, I carry a Panasonic point & shoot camera that can shoot raw files along with a panorama crop. This also works well for skies. The examples here were photographed with a 24 -105mm to 400mm. For a single capture, I sometimes crop to a panorama format. If I use a series of images for a panorama, I zoom out to 75mm – 105mm to limit some distortion when combining them. I zoom to the height I like, then shoot a series horizontally for the length I want. Also use manual exposure so the frames all have the same exposure so it is easier to combine and overlap without variances in density. Depending on the clouds, I have also done vertical panoramas, that also give a unique & different look. Also try different crops, wider to tighter to see which ones you like better. If printing them, the crop depends on how large you are printing them. The larger you go the different the crop looks. Skies and cloud images are also great to use as a background in ebooks or books to put other photos on top with text, makes it look more interesting than a white page . So if it is a slow day out in the field remember to look up.

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