The other day 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 currently live we 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 the images to view larger and scroll through):

lavender-square-150pxNicole S. Young is a professional photographer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of several print books and eBooks, and runs her own online store for photographers, the “Nicolesy Store“.

You can read more of Nicole’s articles HERE, and view her work and website HERE.

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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Nicolesy, great article, I have had success doing that with night and sunset skys as well. Did you alter the water reflection in your shark cave as well as composited the clouds into it? Looks really well done.

  2. Great post Nicolesy! I have never tried compositing so far, but I do enjoy photographing skies and clouds, great subject though one needs to be patient or lucky to get a good one! I have a few examples from the last months here: http://gonzalobroto.blogspot.com/2014/03/6-days-6-skies-views-from-my-windows.html


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About Nicole S. Young

Photographer, author, entrepreneur. I love photographing food and landscapes, and have written several how-to books on Photography, post-processing, and creative inspiration. You can find more about me on my blog, online store, as well as on Google+ and Twitter.


Landscape, Photography


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