Understanding Clouds and Light – Free Resource Chapter

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Understanding Clouds and Light – Free Resource Chapter

There is so much more we can learn from the weather forecast if we’re willing to just look that little bit deeper. Most weather apps present us with beautiful little graphics with sunny and cloudy symbols and we use this to infer and understand the forecast. This type of information is fantastic for taking a quick look at the forecast and getting a sense of what we can roughly expect from the day ahead.

However, as photographers, we are not just concerned with this ‘notional’ weather forecast. We need to look a bit deeper. We should think about forecasts in terms of what light might result from a particular forecast. This helps us make much better decisions on what locations we should go to on a given day. For me, marrying my vision in terms of what light I would like to shoot at a specific location, with the likely outcomes of weather forecast has been huge in improving my strike rate. This also requires an understanding of lighting angles, and what type of imagery we are likely to get based on the angle of the sun. This is a point I really delve deep into within our new course, ‘Effective Planning in the Landscape, Developing the Light’.

Alpe Di Siusi, Dolomites Italy 

Understanding the angle of the sun is key. Side Lighting or Back Lighting. What techniques likely depending on where the sun comes from. Does the angle change through the year? Where can I find out? Nikon d850, Lee Filters .9 Medium Grad

Bringing things back to the forecast and the weather there’s a huge array of information out there and I hope this blog will help you to access that information. To really understand the implications of forecast and lighting plus post-processing technique in Lightroom and Photoshop I’m afraid you will have to take the full course but hopefully, this discussion sets you on your way.

The amazing light we love to photograph as landscape photographers is so heavily influenced by the clouds. But let’s be more specific. The key is looking for forecasts that have low, medium, and high-level cloud predications. This information can be a real revelation for understanding the likely conditions that can ensue. It drives my decision-making on when to go out, and where to go. Think low, medium, and high clouds. Once we start thinking this way and looking at these types of weather forecasts we can make certain inferences. With this forecast, this type of shot will work for example. I’ve presented a detailed analysis of this in the new video course with shot suggestions, technique plus post-processing ideas but here’s an outline that should be of use.

Ballintoy Harbour, Antrim, Ireland

An absence of low clouds can really bring the fireworks. Lee .6 medium and Little Stopper Nikon D850

To help us understand things a bit better I’ve drawn up 5 forecasting zones.

  • 100% Low Clouds – Grey and featureless, possibly damp
  • 0 – 10% Low/Medium/High – Basically Clear
  • 0 Low/0 Medium and 80 – 100% – High Clouds
  • 0 Low/50 – 80% Medium/70 – 100% High
  • Mixed Bag 40 – 80% at all cloud heights Low/Medium and High

So let’s take this a step further. Each scenario and forecast hugely increases the likelihood of a type of lighting. 100% Low is Grey of course but what works in this type of forecast? Minimalism, details, a wet forest. Think weather, think about what shots work with these specific conditions and make your decision on where to go accordingly. An absence of low clouds means there is a chance the light will get under the clouds. This means there’s a better chance of colorful light at sunrise so make more of an effort to get out and get going. There is so much more I could say on this topic but I’m afraid you will have to take the course to get the full low down on each scenario listed above. Shot suggestions, technique, an in-depth look at the light, plus apps and resources around clouds, tides, moon phases, and more. Plus 15 videos on post processing and weather for good measure.

Mont Saint Michael, France

Ah, that elusive mist. Perhaps my favourite conditions to shoot in. It’s all about the dew point, winds, moisture and temperature swings.  Lee.6 Filters medium and Nikon D850

For now, I want to leave you with a chapter from the course which details where you can get this low/medium and high cloud info for Europeans and folks from the US.

Apps, weather, clouds, predicting colour, tides, what light, what technique, backlight, sidelight and more.

A hugely detailed examination of the factors to consider when planning your landscape shoots plus what techniques you should employ to deal with what conditions.

Plus 15 start to finish edits in post-processing. Learn how to predict the light and also how to develop it into a perfect final expression of your creativity. 

Effective Planning in the Landscape

Developing the Light

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