Discover more from Austin Whatever
LA Cloudy, the anatomy of the central Florida sunset, and a zine on the way.
I love LA clouds. They’re always a bit disorienting to wake up to. I’m not talking about the big white flat sky that shushes the basin from May to early July, so-called “June Gloom;” that’s predictable, regular, and imbues my neighborhood with all the intrigue of a soup-bowl. I mean real clouds you can see, differentiated clouds, cumulus and cirrus, big swooping numbers and frizzy cotton, hair-dos, clouds that look like stuff. Those are rare here. It almost seems like an alien invasion. Marching regularly towards the ocean, on revue, the troops are here having finally made it over the San Gabriels, the weather pattern changing, winds shifting, the clouds have arrived! A treat, a thrill. I look at the sky and see a reflection of my northeastern view, moisture wicking off the Long Island or Nantucket Sounds. Sliding by close with glacial inevitability and, stilled by parallax, hovering in the distance, they pass over my house and my mountain and my valley until, usually by the early afternoon, all thats left are the unlucky few too rain-laden to cross the Gabriels, tantalizingly out of reach, peeking like a Monet Kilroy over the greening autumn ridge-lines.
I remember my love for sky-scapes kicking into high gear in central Florida while shooting what would become Some Kind of Heaven. On that wide Osceola plain where any land above 100ft is called a mountain and the record low temperature in July is 64ºF, I became intensely interested in photographing the drama in the sky. Missing the mountains, I found them directly above me. All day from dawn to dusk, those Magrittes floated down the Central Florida boulevard in a penumbratic procession, morphing into new suggestions with each swing of the wind, overlayed and interlaced, flat, fat, tall, and thin, wispy, plump, bulging, embracing and swallowing each other.
When the sun grades to the lower sky, those Ocala clouds slip out of their white uniforms and transform through shadow and refraction into dramatic poses, baroque and twisting, reaching and stretching with torsion. I became obsessed with capturing these ever-evolving pictures on my camera, and often aimed the lens sky-ward, forefinger poised for the right combination. I particularly love when clouds cast their shadows on other clouds. It always seems like a momentary lapse of nature when clouds, the ethereal travelers, betray their own physicality through light. Their twists garner a sudden interrelation, a brief realization of relative space.
These nuclear sunsets provided the background to my favorite photographs and suffused every ground-laden subject with an almost set-like quality. It’s still hard to believe how little (if anything) I had to do to these photographs. Once I had the frame, the clouds did the work for me. I’m always amazed by the sheer quantity of forms in the clouds above the crew and Reggie in the picture below. Altostratus, cumulonimbus, cirrus, cumulus, at their various densities and altitudes, they provided a palimpsest of canvases for the glowing sun to illuminate in golds, reds, oranges, pinks, or shadow in deep pastels of purple and blue.
This phase, however, the drama, only lasts for so long before dusk leaves the wisps pale-grey and flatter than day, and all night the procession continues with black construction-paper against the stars.
A brief dawn infuses the clouds with form once again, and the hunt continues.
On a very exciting note, I’m pleased-as-all-hell to announce that Specific Northwest Issue no. 1 is coming!! Available to order on Nov 1.
Can’t wait for you guys to pick up a copy. Stay tuned!
PS. As always, please subscribe and share. Love writing these posts and would love to be able to write more. To support my stuff, the best thing you can do is get a paid subscription. It means the world to me!