Photographers are a rather sky-obsessed bunch. You might catch us tripping over our own two feet or running face-first into a pole just because we’re just so enamored with a beautiful sunset or cloud formation. We stop our cars for silver linings and sun rays send us running for our cameras… You get the picture.
But who could blame us? The sky is such a huge part of the beauty all around us. And isn’t that why we’re photographers in the first place? We love beauty, color, movement and light. We gravitate towards the magnificent, be it a blue-sky day or a cotton-candy sunset. We photograph the sky because it touches our photographer hearts.
We asked 35 Click Pros to give us their advice on photographing skies. They completely blew us away with their incredible sky photos, and we think they’ve got some pretty great tips too!
1. Shoot long exposures for a creative effect.
“One of my favorite creative tips for capturing incredible skies is using a neutral density filter to shoot a long exposure. If water is involved for creative effect or reflection, even better.” – Kristen Ryan
3. Meter for the sky and lift shadows in post.
“Amazing skies get me every time. Meter for the sky and don’t be afraid to lift the shadows/exposure on your subjects. In Lightroom, I like to use a large radial filter around my subjects to do this.” – Natalie Greenroyd
5. Watch and wait for your moment.
“My favorite tip is to just watch for beauty, breath it in and click the shutter. I love to leave more space for the sky in the frame as a main hero of the story.” – Olga Levien
6. Include clouds to make the viewer think.
“Clouds add interesting shapes and textures to your image. They help to break up the flatness of the sky. Clouds give the viewer something to think about rather than just an empty sky without feeling.” – Sarah Gupta
7. Capture dramatic skies during bad weather.
“As a landscape photographer, we always want a dramatic sky! Often the most incredible skies come during inclement weather. Here in Alberta we can get some pretty nasty summer storms that provide for awesome clouds and light.” – Lori McLellan
8. Shoot during sunrise and sunset for vibrant color.
“I love drama in skies! I use a wide-angle lens to play with silhouettes, reflection, and flares. Shoot during sunset and sunrise hours when there are different colors like purple, pinks, and reds in the sky to add interest to a sky photo. Whenever possible I love to include my kids in the frame to show a sense of scale.” – Shilpa Harolikar
10. Stay safe when photographing lightning.
“A moody sky is my favorite and what’s more moody than lightning? If you’re photographing lightning, remember to stay safe. Lightning can strike up to 25 miles away so make sure you’re using an app like RadarScope or The Weather Channel to locate how close it is to you.” – April Nienhuis
11. Lay on your back to get a great angle.
“I noticed these big puffy clouds floating by and I asked my daughter to pause her scooting and face the direction of the sun. I laid on my back so that I could really fill the frame with the clouds and avoid clutter in the background.” – Monica Carlson
13. Use a graduated filter to adjust exposure.
“If I want to darken the sky but not change anything below the horizon, I add a graduated filter in Lightroom. This brings down the exposure, shadows and highlights in just the sky. I sometimes adjust the color and vibrance, as well.” – Leslie Crane
14. Try multiple exposures for tricky lighting situations.
“I tend to underexpose slightly to make sure I don’t have any blown areas. Sometimes I will take multiple exposures and blend them together in Lightroom.” – Kristen Ryan
15. Look beyond sunsets and backlight.
“My sky photo tip is to not get so caught up in sunsets, backlighting, and flare that you forget to turn around and see what’s happening in the rest of the sky. In this image, if my clients are at 12 o’clock, the sun is setting at about 7 o’clock, over the dunes.” – Larissa Lord
16. Capture reflections to add interest.
“It’s easy to want to photograph only the sky when it looks so beautiful. One way to make your image more interesting is to capture it in reflection.” – Ebony Logins
17. Create balance with the rule of thirds.
“Don’t forget about the rule of thirds. If you see a killer sky, take advantage of the rules and put the horizon in the lower third of your image so the amazing sky takes up two-thirds of the frame. If the sky is amazing but the landscape adds depth to the image, place the horizon in the upper third of photo.” – Kathy Roberts
18. Birds make the perfect photo bombs.
“I love when there are birds in the sky. I sometimes get creative and add even more. The following image is a composite of three images with the same seagull moving in the frame.” – Julie Audoux
19. Stop and capture the moment.
“I really need a hands-free car! If I see something amazing, like clouds forming or pink skies, I plead with my husband to stop somewhere so I can soak up all that sky gorgeousness and take some pictures!” – Jyotsna Bhamidipati
21. Look for interesting details in the sky.
“I have a thing for moody skies. I underexpose to get details. I try to look for interesting details in the sky, like the sun peaking through or storm clouds.” – Jenny Rosenbring
22. Shoot with a narrow aperture to keep detail.
“I usually shoot with an aperture over f/2.8 if I want the sky to be one of the subjects in my image. For this photo, I shot at f/3.5, ISO 250 and 1/4000.” – Iris Bergmann
23. Look for changes in the sky to capture drama.
“I like to look for dramatic changes in skies and I love a good summer thunderstorm. In order to capture both aspects in one click, I underexpose a little so as to not lose any details in the highlights.” – Denise Laurinaitis
25. Try a contrasty black and white conversion.
“I love dramatic skies! Make daytime skies more dramatic and full of texture by converting them to black and white and increasing contrast.” – Ceri Herd
26. Meter for the sky to create a silhouette.
“I don’t always meter exactly for the sky, unless I’m doing a silhouette. If I want to retain both the sky and my subject, I expose about two stops darker than my subject so I can still bring up shadows, but not blow out the sky. ”
– Cami Turpin
27. Get outside after a storm to catch interesting clouds.
“Just after a storm, especially around sunset, is the perfect time for interesting clouds with beautiful colors. After the storm has rolled out, venture outside and capture the beautiful remnants before the clouds have a chance to clear away.”
– Chanel French
28. Don’t blow highlights in your sky photos.
“I underexpose my images to make sure I don’t blow the highlights. While I have used a fake sky once, I’m all about real now. I haven’t used one in over three years!” – Ann Ferguson
29. Photograph a subject in addition to the sky.
“Dramatic skies are my favorite and we have so many out here on the farm. I never knew how much I loved wide open spaces until we moved here. I like to have some sort of subject in the photo with my sky. I love a silhouette or fluffy white clouds on a bright sunshiny day.” – Angee Manns
31. Shoot in RAW for more editing options.
“I always shoot in RAW so that I have the most options for pushing and pulling shadows and highlights while editing. Because RAW photos are pretty ‘blah’ straight out of camera, I like to increase vibrance, sharpening, and contrast right away. I almost always pull out the shadows and tone down the highlights as well.” – Amanda Ruzicka
33. Use the gear you have in the moment.
“You can’t always predict when the sky is going to be amazing. Sometimes your phone is all you have with you, so don’t hesitate to use it! Even it’s through a car window.” – Lindsay Beros
34. Try photographing the sky at night.
“Night photography forces me to slow down, use a tripod and wait. Those three things do not come naturally to me, but learning how to create a long exposure is so worth it. I never know what I’ll capture in those beautiful night skies.” – Sally Ann Field
35. Use adjustment brushes when editing.
“If I’ve underexposed, I like to bring up the exposure on selected parts of my sky image in Lightroom. I use a combination of global exposure adjustments and selective adjustment brushes. I’ll dodge and burn clouds and sky to get the balance of highlights and sky details just how I want them. I also love to brush on added contrast and clarity and boost saturation or luminosity selectively across parts of the sky.” – Aimee Glucina
Do you love, love, love the sky? We’d love to know your favorite tip for capturing incredible sky photos. Share in the comments! We’d also love to connect with you on Pinterest, where we pin really fun photography-related stuff, like great sky photos. Find us here.
Find more incredible photography from our Click Pros on Instagram
@redcedarphoto, @kateluberphoto, @jenna.brisson, @kdokoza, @levienlensphotography, @chanelgphoto, @lorimclellan, @shaycathleenphotography, @craneleslie, @bigwoodscreative, @natalie_g_photography, @kathleenrobertsphotography, @julieaudouxphotographie, @bluehillimages, @jbaudryfrance, @sarahkossakgupta, @lmlord, @ceriherdphoto, @deniselaurinaitis, @irisbergmann_photography, @aprilnienhuis, @amanda_ruzicka,