on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Weather watching

An Introduction to Clouds

Fran Halsall

Fran Halsall specialises in photographing the UK landscape, particularly the wilder parts of the coastline, moorlands and woodlands, and has a particular passion for creating interpretative images of geological formations.

Weather watching

Although there is no way of exerting control over the weather (cloud-seeding experiments aside) a bit of knowledge about how changes in atmospheric conditions affect the type and density of cloud cover, and conversely, what clouds can reveal about the coming conditions, will allow for a more successful prediction of what will happen next. As photographers, rather than meteorologists, all we can ever really hope for is an understanding of trends. However, as detailed observers of the environment we can read the sky for clues, buying precious time to pre-visualise possible lighting effects, compose a potential photograph and spend the remaining minutes with fingers crossed in hope.

From historical sayings such as ‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning’ to the contemporary practice of analysing airplane vapour trails to reveal conditions in the upper atmosphere, looking to the skies is part and parcel of the everyday anticipation of how the weather will aid or ruin our best laid plans. Although it is commonplace to dismiss the accuracy of weather forecasts - even meteorologists will admit that it is easier to predict climate trends over decades than it is to get the minutiae of daily regional forecasts correct - there is much information to be gleaned that will assist the landscape photographer in making the decisions of where to go and when.

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