Saturday, June 23, 2007

Why I Never Shoot Sky


I hate sky. You may have noticed that most of the photos I post include as little sky as possible. Most of the time it's in my way, and I do my best to push it aside. I like the way an overcast sky can intensify some colors, but, unless I want the effect of a gray day, I'll try to sneak under its grayness. Even worse are the all too common "atmospheric" days where the blue isn't quite blue and the light at dawn and dusk isn't quite as intense as it should be. Such gray-blue emptiness adds nothing of interest to a photo and is so bland it is good for nothing but a timid yelp of existential boredom. A crisp blue sky makes a great flat background, but it's rare one needs or wants lots of great, flat background.

Add to those the days when it is too wet or snowy to shoot, and I've shot in some, and that's half the year, at least in Connecticut, when I don't want to shoot the sky. What's left is an assortment of days with clouds of various kinds, most good only for adding a bit of texture to great, flat background.

This was the first shot I made yesterday at Straight Farm when the clouds were rioting, Fasalt and Fafner trampling across the hills. We've had a spell of god-cloud weather lately. Last evening at Straight the line of approach was right over the nearby hill so it was impossible to get the measure of the cloud until it was almost overhead, and I ran for cover from rain and lightening several times but neither happened.

What did happen was a lumbering parade as good as anything Macy's can put together. The problem was that the parade began at the top of the hill behind the barns and to the left in this picture, and stumbled along the side of the mountain and down the long grasslands in front of the barns, and the sun alternately burned deep behind the mass of clouds and powered through, dappling and casting spotlights randomly. Sometimes soundless shadows slithered over the lumpy hills, while I ran circles around the barns, up the hill and back down, trying to predict where the next good extravaganza was taking place.

It has bothered me that I've been so far unable to compose an image making use of the full cluster of barns at Straight. The problem is that trees and orientation keep it from getting decent light. Last night clouds taught me how to shoot it.

7 comments:

Ginnie said...

I actually LOVE skies most of the time, Ted, because they seem to have so much personality...like in this shot. But I can understand where you're coming from. The more lowering the skies, the more I like them. :)

Emery Roth II said...

Then you will probably not want to join my political movement to abolish skies and put something else up there.

Moi said...

I'm with Ginnie too...love a mouthful of sky in all its forms.....overcast, ridden with fluffy clouds, plain old boring blue , stormy skies.....just about all of them......:)))
no support for your political movement form this quarter either :)
I like the way sky frames this shot....and the fact that u took it vertically adds to it ...
Have a great Sunday :)

Emery Roth II said...

Alas, I fear you both missed the tongue lodged firmly against the side of my cheek. I though for sure the contradiction between my title and the two nearest pictures might give a hint I wasn't wholly serious.

The element of truth is that many fine photos are spoiled by a reflexive need to include hoizon and sky. It was something of a revelation to me the first time I tried just slipping beneath it. suddenly the image had a beauty and mistery that had been absent when the bland sky was there. Since that time I generally minimize sky except when it is a definite addition to the image.

Moi said...

forgive me for English is not my mother tongue ;)

Ginnie said...

Well, next time I'll, too, have to pay more attention to your tongue in cheek, Ted. :)

tooter said...

It's a habit of my tongue to do that, and Moi, your English is that of a native. Maybe sometimes my humor is too subtle for my own good.