Founder of The Cloud Appreciation Society, Gavin Pretor-Pinney tells us why it’s time to start noticing what’s going on right above our heads.
“Our lives seem busier than ever” says Gavin, “and everything happens with lightning speed. We have endless emails and alerts to deal with every day, and cloud spotting is a great antidote to that. It’s a chance to take a moment out of your day, and slow down to a more relaxed pace. Clouds are fairly formless things, they can take many shapes and encourage you to tap into your creativity, like ink blot drawings, and imagine what they could be.”
What to look for
“Some of the most common and easily identified clouds are Cumulus, Cirrus, Stratus and Cumulonimbus. Cumulus is a low cloud, puffy like cotton wool and a sign of fair weather. Then there’s Cirrus, a high, streaky cloud. It gives a sense of scale to the atmosphere, and for me gives a feeling of escape, whereas the Stratus cloud is one we very familiar with in the UK, it’s low lying and grey, and can affect your mood in a negative sense. Lastly there’s the dramatic Cumulonimbus, which looks like a blacksmith’s anvil, rising up to 10 miles high before spreading out. From below it can look very dark and often brings thunder and lightning with it.
Most unusual cloud?
In Australia, there’s something extraordinary called the Morning Glory Cloud. It’s a type of roll cloud, large and dramatic, and looks like a long tube which rolls like a carpet. You can see it in the outback of North Queensland, arriving first thing in the morning and it looks like a wave up to 100 miles long. Glider pilots even turn up to surf it!
Where to start spotting…
You can cloud spot almost anywhere, but the ideal location is somewhere wide open with few obstructions, which can equally be out in the countryside or on top of a tall building. I do most of mine in my back garden, I find it’s more about your frame of mind than about your location, which makes it a very egalitarian pastime. After all, we all live under the same sky.”
Get hold a copy of The Cloud Collectors’s Handbook from our online store, and start building your own photo collection.
(Cumulus pic c/o © Eunice Clarke)
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