Cloud painting

Do you know Luke Howard’s contribution to science? I confess, I hadn’t heard of him until recently. He was the man who, in 1802, devised the naming convention for clouds that we still use today: cirrus, cumulus and stratus, as well as their subtypes – cirrocumulus, cirrostratus, stratocumulus and cumulo-cirro-stratus (or nimbus) (three more have been added since).

One of the first things that I noticed when I took up photography was that I became obsessed with the weather. Or perhaps I should say more obsessed, since the weather is a national obsession for any self-respecting Brit (research by Nikon shows that one in 10 Brits takes a photograph of the weather every day).

Is it any wonder? The weather, and the light it creates, can make or break a landscape shot and alter its mood fundamentally. This means learning some basic weather forecasting is one of the most valuable skills a landscape photographer can acquire. It will help you understand how and why certain conditions occur such as mist, fog, hoar frost, dramatic clouds and thunderstorms. Being able to read the weather will enable you to decide when and where to take photographs, what to wear and what gear to take. It could also mean the difference between stumbling out of bed at 5am or having a lie in.

You can find out how clouds got their names by watching this short, engaging TEDed video by Richard Hamblyn:



  1. I remember doing a TQ on clouds a while back so I knew of this guy but had forgotten his name. Thanks for the reminder 🙂 I’ll be watching that video later.


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