Friday, July 15, 2011


As you may have noticed, the sky and particularly clouds dominate much of my landscape images. Heck, even in portraiture I tend to  include the sky. 

I think a blue sky with soft billowy clouds can be very dramatic and I love to see them and photograph them. They're another part of nature that we see all the time but tend to ignore. We shouldn't. Clouds can be amazing. In landscape photography, clouds can make a good image great.

There are times when I like to feature the sky and clouds, sometimes just including the sky in an image.

But most times I like to include some of the landscape in the images as a visual anchor.

Yesterday Phyllis and I visited a local beach that I had read about. I read that it was not very busy and in a secluded area with a series of 13 beaches with parking along a two lane road. It is so secluded that beach 13 is a nude beach. Public nudity is against the law in Florida   
but the beaches are on federal land and there is no federal law against it. It was kind of funny that its parking lot was one of the fullest. Now we didn't go down to that beach, honest, no really we didn't. I wanted nature images but that would be a little too much nature for us. Besides, I was looking for sky images but not moons!!!

We walked down to one of the other beaches and it was beautiful: white fine sand, blue water, not very many people and a great sky. 
As I started making images I liked what I saw. Up or down the beach both views were equally great. I took a few images right away.

Then I realized that what was grabbing my attention the most was the sky with great clouds in both directions. I decided to concentrate on the sky: composing to make them the most dominant part of my images. There are many "rules" of composing and I do use them a lot, especially the rulers of thirds, which I will go into on another day. 

One of the rules that is broken a lot by some photographers is where to put the horizon in your images. The rule is not to put it in the middle, dividing your image in half visually. Should this rule ever be broken? Of course, all rules in photography should be broken or stretched. Well, maybe not the one about charging your camera's batteries but most all others should be tested. Below are two examples of the same image. The first one has the horizon at almost 50%. The other has the horizon lower in the image. I think the second is more dramatic and interesting.

As I sat in front of my computer, I remembered a poet from the 1960s and 1970s. Rod McKuen was a modern poet. This was no Robert Frost. He wrote poems (and songs) that touched us back then. He was relevant, a term we would not have used in the 60s and 70s. He was a fascinating man whom I will write about another day. 

To give you an idea what kind of man this poet was, here is an example. Before a tour of South Africa in the1970s, Mckuen demanded 'mixed seating' among white and black concert-goers. This opened the doors for successful tours for African American performers, including Sammy and Ella. If you don't know who they are, you should!! His humanitarian efforts have twice won him the prestigious Freedoms Foundation Award.

I had many of his albums and books. I remembered that he wrote a few poems about the sky and clouds. This is one of my favorites:

             Pushing The Clouds Away
Clouds are not the cheeks of angels you know
they're only clouds.
Friendly sometimes,
but you can never be sure.
If I had longer arms
I'd push the clouds away
or make them hang above the water somewhere else,
but I'm just a man

Who needs and wants,
mostly things he'll never have
Looking for that thing thats hardest to find

I've been going a long time now
along the way I've learned some things.
You have to make the good times yourself
take the little times and make them into big times
and save the times that are all right
for the ones that aren't so good

I've never been able 
to push the clouds away by myself
Help me.

If you like this post please Stumble it in the share button on this blog (upper right). Also don't forget to click on the images for a larger view.

I'm including a video of Rod so that you could hear him recite his poem.


Bec Owen said...

I do love photos of the beach, and these are gorgeous!

I'm not sure I agree with Mr. McKuen and wish to push the clouds away...the clouds in your pics are stunning!

I do agree with you that the second image (with the horizon sitting lower in the shot) is more interesting to the eye.

Thank you so much, Jim, for this visual feast!

Royal Nirupam said...

Wah! Jim great fairy clouds on the back ground of pristine blue sky wrapped in golden beach;fantastic indeed.Bears the signature of Brandano.

melissa said...

I'd spend days in the beach just looking at the sky and watching the clouds roll by. And it's so beautiful because each day is different from the next ones...just like being in love. The clouds do tell stories. I immediately saw how you've sliced some images...but I liked how you've expressed yourself well. You wrote, "It's more dramatic" that way and I agree.Rules or nor rules...these are expressions and it made me realize how photographers are poets too. I loved every image of the sky you took. Blue gives rest and peace not only to the eyes but to the mind and soul as well. The inclusion of the poem strengthened your post and added to the "dramatic" effect. I loved the mood you set in this blog :) Thanks for sharing Jim. You always have something new to share...I love it :)

BlogNostics said...

Men could be sentimental at times and dramatic effects do get into me once someone has pushed a button. This post is great Jim. It shows who you are. The cloud images are wonderful. Clouds are paralleled to our moods or is the weather?

Thank you.

sulekkha said...

Jim, congratulations, you have been awarded in my blog. Go check it out. And now for your post, congrats again, it's brilliant. I love the beaches and the clouds, your pictures make them appear so dramatic and clear. I envy you, clicking pictures of lovely places and things, enjoying your passion. well done and best of luck in pushing the clouds.

Debbie said...

Beautiful as always Jim! I couldn't stop looking at the "blue" and the picture of the sand where the waves left the little ripples. Amazing photos!

Thanks for sharing

sheryl said...

fantastic images! all the photos look really glorious!

fantacy in practicality said...

JIM, you have engaged the clouds in different way. the white says hi! and the grey says hey! the clouds seem to me moody in a way when they are light and white they seem to be very happy to float above us along the sky. but when they are dark and grey they seem to be heavy, may be the tears are waiting to fall right away.

ROD, you have a wonderful voice, your heavy emotions matched the grey clouds with it's sadness all around. i loved the video too.

a overall justified collaboration of two creative artists.

vaisakhi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vaisakhi said...

ripples in water and in sky...the serene blue megrin wid the chrome hue...superb clicks as usual...loved them...:)

Alpana Jaiswal said...

So refreshing Jim,a pleasure...I do love clouds,they have their own story to tell..

Kimly B said...

Jim- I do believe we are kindred spirits! I have loved that Rod McKuen poem for years and have three of his books. Your pictures made me crave the beach once more. My husband and I were married on the beach at Ft. Walton Beach behind El Matador. I agree, your images are stunning. I have gorgeous wedding pics, but I have a feeling had you been the photographer there would have been an added dimension-:)

ravenmyth said...

Jim I have always been drawn to the magesty of clouds and how they enhance and bring more interest to, you have some amazing photo's here. Beaches of white sand, almost as white as the clouds then contrasted by the deep blue of the sky and sea...always weaving your words of wisdom and knowledge with each photo. You are a wealth of information my friend..and yes, I do know who Sammy and Ella are...I agree, dropping the horizon gives a whole new perspective, I stumbled, tweeted and Googled.

Bongo said...

I love clouds..they bring me peace..and I love Rod Mckuen..he always..makes me cry...As always...XOXOXO

Nelieta said...

These photos are so beautiful Jim! I love photos with clouds and now I understand why you liked my one photo so much. When I looked at your photos it felt like I could touch the clouds. Really nice and thank you for the photography tips :)

lakwatsera de primera said...

I'm a big fan of nature photography especially sweeping seascapes and landscapes with dramatic clouds.

Anonymous said...

Lovely pics! I can understand your affinity to the sky and clouds. The sky controls our destiny! :-)

JIM said...

Thank You everyone I am really happy that so many people enjoy looking at clouds


Rimly said...

I was mesmerized by the blueness of the sky and the playful clouds. Looked a masterpiece! God's strokes and your uncanny ability to capture it in your camera.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I'm sitting here on a rainy Seattle day so this post is more than welcomed!! Your photos are so beautiful. I love #6 of the lone fisherman. I may be staring at these photos for the rest of this rainy day :D

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Oh, and I do love Rod McKuen.

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