724 N Humphreys St Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (928) 779 4151 studio@kdiphotography.com

GUEST POST: Shooting For the Sky, by Tom Bean

For this month’s photo tip, I’m going to turn it over to my dear friend, professional photographer Tom Bean. With decades of experience, work showcased in publications such as Arizona Highways and National Geographic, he’s truly an expert.

Cumulonimbus storm clouds with falling rain over Anderson Mesa with Lake Mary Road, FS#3, view near Mormon Lake overlook, June 22, 2019, Coconino National Forest, south of Flagstaff, Arizona
Cumulonimbus storm clouds with falling rain over Anderson Mesa with Lake Mary Road, FS#3, view near Mormon Lake overlook, June 22, 2019, Coconino National Forest, south of Flagstaff, Arizona


The clouds passing overhead are perhaps the most visually accessible but also the most overlooked of nature’s great displays. They are available to anyone, with a view of the sky.
 
Some tips for capturing clouds:
 

  1. Don’t forget to look up and see what’s going on, as you take a walk, or a ride or push a shopping cart in parking lot. There are beautiful things to enjoy, and photograph, if you remember to pause for a moment to look skyward.
     
  2. Clouds can show us what’s going on in the atmosphere and you will be surprised by how quickly they develop and then evolve into other clouds or disappear entirely. So the most important photography tip is to have a camera with you and take the shot when you see it.
    Luckily, many of us carry a camera with us everyday. It’s our smart phone, which can take wonderful sky photos. No special camera or lenses are required.
     
  3. Sometimes I want to compose photos that include only the sky, but more often I include part of the landscape in my cloud photos. That could be trees, buildings, roads or even people. Try to only include these elements when you feel they add to your composition. Often, if you just move a short distance, across a parking lot or down the trail, before you shoot, you’ll remove distractions like power lines, light poles and signs. It’s worth doing.
     
  4. A fiery sky at sunrise and sunset is a spectacle that all of us notice. So that’s a great time to be out and alert to the clouds. Usually the most vivid red, orange and copper colors happen about 15 minutes before or 15 minutes after the sunrise or sunset.
Sunset on Cumulonimbus storm cloud with line of ponderosa pines, viewed from Anderson Mesa, along USFS 125 Road, August 27, 2022, location east of Pine Hill, Coconino National Forest, west of Mormon Lake, Arizona
Sunset on Cumulonimbus storm cloud with line of ponderosa pines, viewed from Anderson Mesa, along USFS 125 Road, August 27, 2022, location east of Pine Hill, Coconino National Forest, west of Mormon Lake, Arizona

Anytime during daylight hours is a good time to watch the spectacular cloudscapes passing overhead. We can all feel inspired by a moment of unexpected beauty. You won’t be wasting time with your head in the clouds.

Cloudscape of Altocumulus clouds above with many mid-level cloudlets, viewed from meadow near Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, Dec. 14, 2019, Flagstaff, Arizona
Cloudscape of Altocumulus clouds above with many mid-level cloudlets, viewed from meadow near Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, Dec. 14, 2019, Flagstaff, Arizona


Flagstaff Family Portrait Photographer • Flagstaff Maternity Pregnancy Photographer • Flagstaff Newborn Photographer • Flagstaff Child Photographer • Flagstaff Senior Portrait Photographer • Flagstaff Couples Photography

Kristen Dacey Iwai of KDI Photography is a full-time professional portrait photographer based in Flagstaff, Arizona with decades of experience. Making portraits of families, pregnancy, newborns, babies, children, and high school seniors in her downtown studio and on location, she serves clients from Flagstaff, Sedona, Tuba City, Winslow, Payson, Page, Williams, Prescott, Mesa, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Arizona


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