Brown clouds

Amateur Photographer - - Tech Talk -

QI’ve picked up a photo book and on some pages the clouds are quite def­i­nitely of a brown colour. Is this nat­u­ral? In the UK I nor­mally ex­pect clouds to be fairly neu­tral in tone – brown is new to me, and they’re not sun­sets. The au­thor was demon­strat­ing the use of grad­u­ated fil­ters in 5x4 LF land­scape photography, but again I al­ways thought clouds were fairly neu­tral. The film was Provia 100, which I’ve used, and I didn’t have this prob­lem. Mal­colm Ste­wart

AThere are two main pos­si­bil­i­ties. Warm- ef­fect grad­u­ated fil­ters, often de­scribed as to­bacco or sepia tints, are stan­dard tools for some land­scape pho­tog­ra­phers or in post-pro­cess­ing. It can be an ef­fec­tive way of adding drama to a shot. But I’d be sur­prised if the au­thor of the book didn’t men­tion any use of th­ese in re­la­tion to the im­ages you have high­lighted. The other pos­si­bil­ity is that the clouds ac­tu­ally were brown. Dust and sand, and – sadly – pol­lu­tion, blown up into the at­mos­phere dur­ing un­usual weather can nat­u­rally tint the sky. Just this win­ter there were wide­spread re­ports of a ‘Mars’ ef­fect in Eastern Europe, with snow and skies ap­pear­ing red­dish- or­ange. Ex­perts in­di­cated this was desert sand. Q&A com­piled by Ian Bur­ley

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