Chances are that when you’re shooting outside, someone else has already shot exactly the same subject that you’re trying to capture.
But no one else’s image will be the same as yours as long as you’ve got clouds lending perspective and composition.
Clouds create drama. But more-so, clouds promote proper atmospheric conditions which create a softer light which in-turn makes it easier for you and your camera to properly expose the scene. Now all that’s left is using those clouds to tell a story!
These first three images are from our summer Lake Powell trip. You'd never know that it was a border-line miserable 110 degrees because the clouds depict a more serene setting:
Clouds are endlessly abstract. They take our static subjects and create dynamic movement. Be sure to take several pictures marrying different amounts of sky to the scene until you find the right balance. If you want the main subject to be the clouds, let 2/3 of the picture be of the sky. If you have a subject that you just want enhanced by clouds, keep the sky to 1/3 the image. These two images below are a perfect example:
Let the clouds inspire your creativity. But here's a quick tip: Be careful with being too creative with the foreground! I shot this scene a couple months ago at Leo Carillo. Notice how the busy foreground clutters up the subject and becomes a distraction.
Here's another image where the foreground is too busy. This is my neighbor's house and while this isn't a bad shot, the foreground distracts attention from the main subject (the house).
Here's another cool cloud shot that is missing something. A subject!
In So Cal, this is the time of year for clouds. That means it’s also the time of year for sunsets. Unfortunately it gets dark really early right now (today’s sunset is at 4:48p). Over the next couple of months, the sunset will gradually happen approximately a minute later each day. Therefore, two months from now, the sunset will be at 5:30p. As a photographer, you should always always know when the sun is going to set “just in case” it’s setting up to be a great one. Always always have your camera with you and have a few "go-to" spots where you can combine a subject with the sunset.
Keep sending me those images and keep practicing!