Whether I’m in the city or back home in the bush, the first thing I do each morning is check out the sky. In fact, I could happily sit back and gaze skywards all day … as long as there are clouds, that is.
Maybe it’s the country boy in me, but I do feel genuinely let down by the sight of a clear blue sky. Downright depressing that is! Clouds make me happy, the more the better; so it’s no surprise they feature prominently in most of my landscape compositions.
The inland skies of the New England / North West region of NSW are wonderful all year round. Tourism authorities once marketed the area as “Big Sky Country” for good reason. I was back in the area during December, and the summer skies didn’t let me down.
View over the Macintyre Valley towards the Great Dividing Range. One of my favourite views of the Inverell district.
Summer storms brewing outside Inverell
It’s safe to say my Boxing Days are strictly reserved for watching the Melbourne cricket test match on TV. It was no different this year, until I found my eyes straying out the window around lunch time. Going against all protocol I declared my innings to spend the rest of the day watching the sky with camera in hand.
I particularly like to photograph the sky on the back end of a storm, especially late in the day. There can be dramatic colour and contrast on offer and extra clarity in the sky.
The Boxing Day gully-raker tore its way through, and rumbled onwards to the Queensland/NSW border. I was soon enjoying the sudden drop in temperature, shooting some hand-held pics over the Macintyre valley to the east.
Looking back over my shoulder, my jaw dropped at the sight of the monster that had silently crept up behind me!
A surreal, angry looking mammatus cloud formation was hanging heavily above. It was made to look all the more menacing by the setting sun, which was just below the horizon by the time of this shot.
The angle of the light was perfect to highlight the structure of the cloud, and added warmth to the sky. An unforgettable sight and a great reminder to always keep your camera close by!
In the middle of the day, when the light is harsh and contrasting and the clouds have little colour, I start thinking in black and white.
Formation of a storm over the old railway tracks north of Inverell.
Storm clouds forming over a sorghum crop at Long Plain, near Inverell.
The composition of this Long Plain image was all about the cloud and the dead tree. This is a perfect illustration of a monochrome edit telling a more compelling story than the original colour version.
Looking at the mono version my eyes are drawn straight towards the cloud shapes and structure, features which are easily lost with the extra distractions of the original colour image. I love the shapes of dead trees too, and they always seem more striking in B&W.
This was a handheld shot with the Sony A7RII and Sony FE 35mm F2.8 ZA lens. This is a super-light setup for those steamy summer days when you don’t want to be lugging around a heavy camera bag & tripod; the Sony’s excellent image stabilizing system enabling very sharp handheld images.
It was great to see the town of Inverell itself looking so vibrant during a good season, and I’ll conclude with a couple of snaps from the local parks:
Victoria Park, Inverell
Sinclair Park, Inverell
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