Always Carry Your Camera at Hand. Cloudscape, Iceland.

Always Carry Your Camera at Hand. Cloudscape, Iceland.

Iceland Post #4/16: Always Carry Your Camera at Hand.  Cloudscape, Atlantic Ocean near Iceland.

[600 Words | Reading time: 3 min 00 seconds]

Cloud landscape over the Atlantic Ocean, near Iceland. By Alberto Mateo.

I am one of those guys who always fall asleep when sits down on the seat of any means of transport, and it is a pity, because when you fly above the clouds a series of beautiful ever-changing landscapes passes in front of your window. If you have your camera ready, you will be able to begin shooting beautiful landscapes even when you have not arrived to your final destination.

The key to beautiful aerial landscape photography is to sit in a place with a relatively clean and not very scratched window. As we do not know in advance what airplane we are going to fly in, this is a difficult task, even if we choose a ‘window seat’ when we book the airplane ticket on internet. Once on board, if you see that your airplane is far from full you may be able to choose a new one after taking off and take a chance from a better position.

[Related Picture: Clouds in the Faroe Islands]

Use a zoom. Your subject this time is too huge and you cannot choose your position in relation to the clouds. Changing the perspective of your photographs is out of reach so, at least, it is useful to be able to change the framing. For this landscape I used the black version of a Nikon 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G (I have never understood other colors different from black or white on a lens). This lens is not robust, not luminous, but it is cheap, cheap, cheap and sharp, sharp, sharp. Not very well finished in light plastic it will not withstand the toughest treatment, but that is not a huge problem when it is cheaper that many filters I own. I am amazed at the optical quality of this old discontinued lens I bought second hand long time ago. I can add that this lens is especially useful when you have to use it under the rain or in hard weather conditions when it hurts to take out of the backpack a 1500€ Nikon prime lens.

[Related Picture: Clouds in Tierra de Fuego]

To photograph clouds you have to be vigilant in looking through your window to the landscape that passes in front of you, and wait for the beautiful cloud shapes that will produce the composition you want.

The shapes I present today are cumulus (those with great vertical development that announce a wonderful storm for the ones who look at them from below). I balanced a beautiful high cumulus on the right with cotton like textured shapes on the left. The cotton texture is extremely appealing when printed in black and white. Love it!

[Related Picture: Storm clouds in Piccadilly (London)]

Take advantage when the airplane is not flying very high or when the clouds are high. When there is a big difference between your position and clouds, the details are lost and the landscape looks dull. An immense plane extension of clouds is not the best image you can strive to get.

The cloudscapes will look more impressive in locations where big storms form. I was going to Iceland where strong weather is expected, so I knew in advance that this trip would be a great opportunity to shoot clouds.

[Related Picture: Clouds in the Faroe Islands]

The black and white version works great for this subject with delicate tonalities and hues of whites and grays. It simplifies the scene and allows the viewer to enjoy the detail, the delicate shapes and the soft gray textures.

The last factor you will need in these images is LUCK. Sometimes beautiful clouds will pass in front of you outside your window, and others you will not be able to enjoy other images than endless boring cloud extensions. You can spend much time looking for the best landscapes but this genre of photography will always have an inherent nature of unpredictability. In these cases, the most useful thing you can do is to sleep right through all your trip.

[Related Picture: Clouds above the Defense (Paris)]
Camera Model: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G
SETTINGS: Aperture: f11 | Shutter Speed 1/320 | ISO 100

Tripod: No tripod. Hand held camera.
Backpack: LowePro with rain cover (absolutely needed in Iceland)
Filter: B+W KR 62mm
Memory Card: Sandisk SD Extreme 64Gb

NEXT SCHEDULED POST: Ice shape and surf. Diamond Beach (next to Jokulsarlon, Iceland)

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