Look Up: Cloudscapes

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

— John Lubbock

Around the summer of 2015, I became obsessed with the clouds. I would stare at them on my commute at risk of tripping over cracks in the sidewalk, or small children, or fire hydrants. In Vancouver, the early summer brings a mixture of warm and cool air which creates massive, towering cumulonimbus formations over the North Shore. When you remind yourself what exactly you’re looking at — conglomerations of water vapour shooting thousands of meters into the sky — cloud formations begin to shift from everyday bore to remarkable force of nature.

If you look very closely on a windy day, you can begin to see the ripples and folds of a cloud formation transform. It’s slow, but sure. I purchased an intervelometer for the express purpose of speeding up this magnificent transformation. That’s where the obsession took hold. I’d set up a tripod and aim my camera at an interesting cloud formation, set up the interval and then wait, hoping it’d turn out well. Many didn’t, but when they did it was like unwrapping a gift. When I wasn’t shooting clouds, I was thinking about it. That summer, I learned to appreciate something I’d so often overlooked, and understand the currents of nature and time on scales that slip between our human grasp.