One thing I love about the sky is that it’s constantly changing. We forget, I think, that the air is, from a mechanical standpoint, a fluid. Moisture, temperature and pressure interact to give us weather, and while to our busy, narrow perspective at ground level that change may seem a little slow or plodding, a simple time-lapse of the sky shows us cloud fronts breaking like waves on a shore, building up and breaking down like foam, or boiling away- as ethereal as steam from a kettle.
I don’t think I ever noticed the sky before I started photography. Not really noticed. Now, I love to stare at the clouds and study the layers, watch the way a low-angled sun strikes clouds differently at various altitudes, the range of textures of different cloudforms, or imagine what those clouds might look like from a plane window amongst them.
Even monochromatic skies have depth and interest. Using a polarizing filter teaches you about the different way that sunlight moves across a blue sky, and even with the naked eye you can see dark, rich spots and paler areas where the light seems to desaturate. Blue skies vary from place to place. My family have always enjoyed the very rich, pure blue that seems to accompany sunny days in Australia and New Zealand; growing up in Europe, somehow the sky there used to seem just a little washed out. In western Afghanistan, the winter sky was so clean, so void of moisture, that the edges of every building and every mountain spine stood out, close and sharp, a clarity I’ve rarely seen elsewhere.
Life- any life- can have its monotonous stretches. Daily routines, slogs and grinds, times when things seem slow or bogged down. That will change- it’s the nature of life to shift, particularly when people want it to. But even when it feels like more of the same-old same-old, don’t forget to look up. The sky’s always changing, and that makes every day it’s own. If we can learn to celebrate those little things, we can touch the sky every day.