A few months back I was outside walking my dog, and just as I was approaching my house I could not help but notice the amazing clouds up in the sky. Where I was living (at the time) we would rarely get good cloud-filled skies, so I tend to take notice when there is something other than a blank blue sky. Unfortunately, the sun was already on its way down, so there was no chance that I could drive anywhere decent to photograph a landscape with those gorgeous clouds.

Instead of writing things off, I decided to grab my camera and 70-200mm lens and get some stills of just the sky. I like to keep a collection inside of Lightroom with all of my clouds so that I can use them for future composite images (here is a recent article on how I use collections inside of Lightroom). My goal is to have a large enough collection of skies so that I can always have an appropriate sky to choose from when I need it most. Here is a small gallery of some of the clouds I photographed of the sky from the other night (click on the images to view larger and scroll through):

I’m learning that I can still create beautiful photographs when I am in front of a scene with no clouds in the sky. With my collection of skies I can easily replace the blue sky with something much more interesting. It has even encouraged me to photograph more landscapes with boring skies, scenes which I would have passed over in the past. With a some basic masking skills you too can drop a beautiful sky into a photograph, just like I did with this image of Shark Fin Cove in Santa Cruz, CA (click on each image to view larger):

A few months back I was outside walking my dog, and just as I was approaching my house I could not help but notice the amazing clouds up in the sky. Where I was living (at the time) we would rarely get good cloud-filled skies, so I tend to take notice when there is something other than a blank blue sky. Unfortunately, the sun was already on its way down, so there was no chance that I could drive anywhere decent to photograph a landscape with those gorgeous clouds.

Instead of writing things off, I decided to grab my camera and 70-200mm lens and get some stills of just the sky. I like to keep a collection inside of Lightroom with all of my clouds so that I can use them for future composite images (here is a recent article on how I use collections inside of Lightroom). My goal is to have a large enough collection of skies so that I can always have an appropriate sky to choose from when I need it most. Here is a small gallery of some of the clouds I photographed of the sky from the other night (click on the images to view larger and scroll through):

I’m learning that I can still create beautiful photographs when I am in front of a scene with no clouds in the sky. With my collection of skies I can easily replace the blue sky with something much more interesting. It has even encouraged me to photograph more landscapes with boring skies, scenes which I would have passed over in the past. With a some basic masking skills you too can drop a beautiful sky into a photograph, just like I did with this image of Shark Fin Cove in Santa Cruz, CA (click on each image to view larger):

Nicole S. Young is a photographer, published author, and educator specializing in Lightroom, Photoshop, and photography. She is best known for her books on food photography but is widely versed in various photographic genres, including landscape, nature, stock, travel, and lifestyle.

One Comment

  1. Tom Weingeist June 1, 2014 at 8:30 am - Reply

    I have been taking digital images of skies for a number of years to use just as you have. Other patterns such as bricks, walls, etc serve the same purpose. Thanks for you guidance and teaching points.

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