“Dances with Clouds,” what my good friend Joe McNally called me once. That’s because I turn to the heavens every opportunity I can to get help telling my visual story. Clouds can set the stage, be the background that will make or break your photograph. That is if you take in all the other elements in the frame and incorporate them along with the clouds.
Here is my favorite little church out on The Palouse. I visit it at least once every time I’m on The Palouse because it is never the same. When there are no clouds, it is a photographic challenge. When there are clouds, the challenge then becomes what I want to say. Look at these two photographs of the same church shot on two different trips. Do you see the one thing that made me change where I stood and the lens I selected? You might be fooled and think it was the clouds but actually, it was the trees! The trees not only changed lenses and location I shot, but also exposure. I went 24-70f2.8 so I could stand down the hill and put the church up on the rise so the spring green of the trees “hold” the church. I used the Z14-30 and stood closer so the bare trees seem to defend the church. While the clouds made it all come together, without the trees, the clouds wouldn’t have made the photo, visa versa as well. So next time when you have clouds in the viewfinder ask yourself, do clouds set the story?