This post is one of ten appearing in the series 10 Ways To Improve Your Landscape Photography.
Whilst the landscape certainly changes over the relatively short shutter speeds we use in photography it appears very static. Two key elements that help bring an image to life are water and skies. Both of these add dynamism and are ever changing such that even with the same position no two images will be the same.
They provide an interesting counterpoint to the stasis apparently present in the landscape. They also provide strong compositional elements in their own right. Rivers often give us strong leading lines and curves to draw the eye through an image. The sky can provide us with dramatic cloud formations and the interesting light that they can bring.
Most of my images will involve water to some extent, quite often being the main subject. When combined with a longer exposure it can provide a sometimes mesmerising impression of the passage of time. I love to experiment with these long exposures to reveal the behaviour of the water and its patterns that just aren't apparent with shorter shutter speeds.
I consider a clear blue sky to be a boring sky to the point that I often won't shoot. While the blue can provide an interesting contrast as a background to a highly graphic foreground, it is when the sky is filled with cloud that has the most interest. At Golden Hour it can pick up some wonderful hues that make an image come to life. During the day it can make shooting worthwhile when otherwise the high contrast associated with bright sunlight would make conditions unfavourable.
I'm always looking at the sky for interesting clouds and hints of what the weather will do when I'm out shooting. Of course lots of cloud in the sky means I'm often dealing with bad weather so if I'm not already wet I'm probably about to be! My wife thinks I'm mad and can't understand why my idea of good weather is her idea of bad but it's often a neccesary evil.