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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Forty-Five: Using clouds to imply meaning tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Forty-Five: Using clouds to imply meaning

Clouds offer travel photographers not only wonderful subject matter in themselves, but also a way to create atmosphere, mood, and abstraction. More importantly, the shape, color, amount, and nature of clouds can often imply profound meaning.

I urge my students to include as little sky as possible in their travel images, particularly in landscapes, because pictures with clear blue sky or washed out white or gray skies are flat and uninteresting. However the opposite is true if there are striking clouds in the image. In that case, a large share of the image – indeed the very subject itself – can become the sky and the clouds within it.

We can’t control the weather, but when the weather offers us cloud formations that imply meaning, we should do whatever we can to take advantage of whatever we may be given. I am starting this gallery with a selection of images based on symbolic clouds I was able to spot on a recent visit to Death Valley. In each of these images, the clouds are my subjects. They imply the meaning. The mountains, hills, and structures in these images offer context for these clouds. Context is needed in most expressive cloud images. I suggest that photographers look for things on the ground to relate them to, giving them both scale and potential meaning.

I present this gallery in "blog" style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a detailed caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. If you click on the large thumbnail, you can see it in its full size, as well as leave comments and read the comments of others. I hope you will be able to participate in the dialogue. I welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions, and will be delighted to respond.