Clouds – important compositional element

Road to the Clouds by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved

Road to the Clouds by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved

When shooting in the Palouse there are many opportunities to use the leading lines and curves of the terrain for your composition.  A dramatic or colorful sky can help to balance the composition. I always enjoy days with blue sky and white “puffy” clouds.

I would like to suggest using the clouds as a major compositional element in the background. The image at the top of this page shows an example of using the clouds as a main element of the composition. Let me explain my thought process as I created this image.

I was driving along HIghway 195 from Pullman to Colfax whenI noticed the dirt road in the field and thought the lines and colors were interesting.  At that time there was just a clear blue sky above the landscape. I kept driving for a ways when I noticed some clouds moving to that area from the southwest. I turned around and decided to see if the clouds would move into the setting I had seen before.

As I parked by the side of the road, it was evident that the clouds were definitely moving rapidly toward my position. I set up my tripod and camera and just waited as the cloud formation continued to approach. At times I try to name an image before I actually shoot. This helps me to visualize and create the image in my mind.  The funnel shaped cloud formed just before it reached my position and I thought if it would line up with the dirt road I would be able to capture the image I had imagined. I took a couple of shots just to check my exposure and as the funnel reached the top of the road I pressed the shutter and the image was mine.

This image was effective for me because I utilized the clouds as a main compositional element. Using the clouds allowed the road to lead to something of interest.  Think creatively about the clouds in your photos and see the added impact they can provide.

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