Big Skies st Sundown

Contrails at sundown - Feb 2009

Every sunset is different. Some are fiery, others subtle. In some it’s the colour of the sky, in others it’s light reflecting off the clouds. Occasionally it’s the sheer height of the sky. They have moods – from angry to calm. They are an evolving event. For me, and I’m not alone I know, sunsets like sunrises have the power to lift one’s spirit.

The power of photography allows us to capture these wonderful sights and lock the memories in so that we can return to them again. In that way they are never lost.

The night before last was one of those occasions. Rain had threatened through the day but the showers had bypassed us. The sky was permanently disturbed: one moment there would be a brief shaft of sunlight, the next a squall of chilly wind and dark stormy clouds.

The rear of our house looks out over fields in a north-easterly direction. We were sitting in the lounge after supper and my wife spotted the sky: ‘you’d better get out there with your camera’

Cumulus clouds - April 2012

I didn’t need a second bidding. There was no time to jump in the car and go to find the ideal viewpoint. I was down the garden fast to grab the view. It wasn’t actually ‘Sunset’, it was the sky a few minutes before. The view extended over a wide area of the horizon, three times as wide as this image. The sun was far away to the left out of the picture casting light on these towering cumulus clouds on the right, with a bizarre lobster claw of cloud reaching out from the left side.

Four weeks ago I was watching the sky expecting a sunset and set out for a walk around the outskirts of our village to where I knew I would find a suitable foreground. But the ‘Sunset’ never materialized. The sun disappeared behind a cloud-bank – gone. The sky was one of those ‘mackerel’ skies composed of cirrocumulus clouds. I sensed something was going to happen up high as dusk approached. And sure enough it did.

After Sundown - March 2012

I must have taken 20-30 images as the light changed and dusk approached. The colours were subtle and graded. The sky towering high. ‘Sunset’ may have been missed on this occasion but yet again the sky provided the after glow.

Mackerel Sky at Dusk - April 2012

Which to like? A pointless question really – maybe it depends on your own mood on the day. But one thing is sure: you will never see another one exactly like it.

About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'.
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20 Responses to Big Skies st Sundown

  1. rigmover says:

    All very nice photos, but the top one has it for, great colours.



  2. Len says:

    Great sky images Andy but that first one is killer. I love shooting them and getting inspired. For whatever reason, we don’t get these type of skies in New England so most of mine are when I am on the road.


  3. Good collection, and I’d have to agree — that first one is great.


  4. Rick says:

    Some very nice skys. Nothing like some clouds to add drama to a scene.


  5. marciescudder says:

    Such gorgeous colors..and – so true. Each and every sunset has its very own personality!


  6. Adam Allegro says:

    Yea, that first shot is SICK andy. Nice work on all of them.


  7. seekraz says:

    Yes, probably a pointless question, Andy…they are all beautiful. How wonderful that you were able to capture them all. I love clouds…could look at them all day…and into the evening, of course, when many of the best views can be had with the waning light. So nice…thank you. 🙂


  8. Some great shots here. I’m just looking on my netbook and interestingly the screen crops part of the image because it’s so small. So while I like the pics I’d like to ask how you feel when I suggest the Cumulus Clouds pic looks good cropped without the top quarter to the top of the clouds? Also the last two are great shots and I know your images have captured the cloud cover as well as the sunset but for my money they both work so much better with a crop of just the lower half of the frame. Perhaps it may sound terribly critical to write my opinions as I have but I do like your photographs. Rather than just tick the like box I thought I’d offer my views about what works for me. Do you think shooting and processing as HDR would have captured the drama of the cloud cover any differently? I ask because I’m starting to experiment with HDR. I’m thinking that it may be a situation where it would work well but like I say it’s new to me so perhaps it’s something I should experiment with…! Thanks for sharing. I like how you write about your photographs – cheers! Best wishes PC


    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for your detailed comment. I don’t mind a bit of critique at all! Cropping is a very personal thing I think. The viewer of course never knows if an image has been cropped or not, only the photographer knows that. All these shots are uncropped. Personally I feel they all benefit from the ‘height’ of the sky, but that’s just how I wanted to display them. There is always room for another opinion. HDR is a processing technique I have never used. With reference to this post, HDR would have revealed detail in the foreground but I wanted a pure black silhouette so I would not have contemplated it. HDR definitely has a place and is a technique with huge potential in images with too wide a range of light levels for the camera to record in one shot. For me, having spent many any years in the film era especially B&W, I grew up delighting in deep shadows and strong highlights and I still enjoy them. Maybe one day I’ll give it a try. The other point is I never carry a tripod, and HDR work very often involves a tripod. For me a tripod equals restricted movement. Glad you like my work, keep watching!



      • Thanks for your reply. Yes you are probably right about HDR bringing out detail in the silhouette and I hadn’t considered that. I’m thinking about buying some natural density graduated filters which I think may work well with certain skies. Do you use any filters? I’ll continue to enjoy your work… Cheers, PC


  9. athyfoto says:

    Just back from a 10 day, do nothing, chill out (literally :)) break, staring at the skies up in North Yorkshire and then I come home and see this wonderful post. Great work Andy, a kindred spirit me thinks!


  10. Simon Morris says:

    Nice series of images, Andy – I especially like the 3rd image (After Sundown – March 2012)… wonderful atmosphere!


  11. Love these!!! specially the first and the third.


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