These Three Photographs – Blue Skies

One of my ongoing series on 35hunter is These Three Photographs, where I revisit three photographs from my archives on a particular theme.

Past episodes have been Cars, Rust and Nature Reclaims.

This time around, blue skies.


As much as I love digital these days, film does capture sky and clouds beautifully.

This shot was made with the gloriously lensed Yashica Electro 35 GTN, which managed to make everything it captured look amazing.

Just a shame it was such a heavy, bulky and awkward camera to use otherwise.


With this one, the film was more important than the camera and lens.

I was looking into some more offbeat film emulsions, started reading about Cinestill 800T, and via that, stumbled across a film from a company called Northern Lab.

They took another film intended for movies (I think), and rerolled it in 35mm canisters.

“Northern Film Lab Kodak Vision 3” was an almost unbelievably slow ISO1.6 film. Nope, not ISO160, not even ISO16, ISO1.6!

I used my Contax 167MT at its lowest ISO6, then used two stops exposure compensation to reach ISO1.6, more or less. Plus a fast lens and a bright sunny day!

I loved the blues it delivered.


No surprise that the third and final picture in this series was also shot on film, this time my Holga 120N, with Fuji Velvia 50 film, cross processed.

Again I love the blue tones, and how the beautiful fluffy clouds are given extra atmosphere and mood via the medium used.

How about you, do you enjoy taking pictures of blue skies?

Please share why and links to any of your favourites in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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16 thoughts on “These Three Photographs – Blue Skies”

    1. I think the same can be said about looking down Rob. Most people wander through their surroundings looking in the middle distance ahead, oblivious to most of what’s around them. Carrying a camera encourages us to look up and down, near and far, in search of beautiful compositions to capture. The more we look, the more we find them.

  1. Nice Dan, they all have this saturated film feel and i prefer the first one.
    I tend to photograph the sky in colour during sunsets mostly, when you get that Vanila sky moment. Otherwise, i prefer capturing the sky in b&w and if there’s really something interesting up there (ex: title image of “Photo soundtrack” blog post) cheers, hope you’re well

    1. Yes, b/w skies can be very dramatic.I definitely use b/w for skies far more with digital. Something about the way film renders clouds and sky kept me nearly always with colour film.

  2. The blues have almost a night depth. The city I born and grew up is at 3800 meters above the sea, (around 12 400 feet), the atmosphere is thinner and the blues are so deep and crystalline, as if you were about to see the stars. You would find joy in its sky : )
    I feel, besides, that overcast days are nicer in negative film, white skies suddenly show textures and shadows.

      1. Thanks Francis, I very much like the colours in these shots, especially the ones with may colours in the same composition, if that makes sense.

  3. Beautiful textures here, and I can certainly see the difference with the film that you are talking about. The depth of the clouds in that first one is quite something, and the almost surreal blue in the last one keeps me taking another look. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yes I like blue skies very much… and polarizers. You can’t beat a good polarizer – or a lens that is so contrasty it acts like there’s a built-in polarizer. The SMC DA 16-45mm f4 and the SMC-M 28mm f/3.5 fall into that category, the colors are super rich and the blues are just magnificent without any use of filters.
    There’s a “cloudscapes” thread at the PentaxForums that is very enjoyable to look at.

    1. I’ve never used a polariser. This reminds me I wanted to experiment with ND filters more this summer. I think I have an ND4 on 49mm which will work on one or two of my K mount lenses I believe. Thanks re the cloudscapes thread, I only ever really look at the Six MegaPixel Club!

      1. To me, polarizers are pretty useful, while ND filters not so much. Other than that continuous water flow effect, which I haven’t really gone for, I see little use for them.
        I had a 77mm ND filter for many years that I never used. When I sold my Tokina 19-35mm lens recently, I gave it away with it as a freebie…
        Now let me tell you something you can try.. have you ever used the Reversal Film preset on your K-30? It’s an interesting effect but a bit too warm. But when you combine it with a polarizer, which cools the colors down and doubles on the contrast, you can get some crazy colors from it and the contrast is just off the roof. It’s an effect I just love.

      2. I think I’ve owned polarisers fleetingly, when in the past I’ve bought a job lot of film gear and its inevitably contained the odd tripod, flash unit, filters etc, which have usually gone straight in the next charity shop donation whilst I’ve kept the core kit like the camera(s) and lens(es).

        For me the main appeal of ND filters, though I haven’t used them much, is being able to shoot a fast aperture speeds, and therefore gain shallow depth of field, on sunny days.

        No I haven’t used my K30 that much at all to be honest. On one hand I think it’s a fantastic camera. On the other hand, it’s too good (high MP), too complex, oh and the metering strangely doesn’t seem anywhere near as good as the old K100D and K-m.

  5. ISO1.6? Wow! I bet I’d mess or goof those up, even on my tripod. I’d have to hang a few bricks and fifty pound bag of wet sand off my set-up. That bottom frame is spectacular, Dan. Do you remember any of the details of that day, like where you were when you took it? Ever read any of Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s books? He’s a UK author who lives in a similar part of the country as you I think and he has a wonderful title all about clouds and cloud spotting, that and other book of his are on my shelf. I highly recommend them. He also wrote a great book about waves (in all forms).

    It’s really all about the clouds for the sky because while i’ll admit bluebird days are plenty good for my spirits in general, when it comes to seeing things through the viewfinder, not a single cloud in the sky (not even one puff) is a recipe for discouragement. I haven’t used an ultra wide in ten years probably but some of my most fun and exciting results in the past were capturing stormy, changing skies with a wide angle. an old friend of mine was a weather chaser and fine photographer and it always astounded me how skillfully he could use an ultra wide on the Great Plains and other vast, open terrain to capture the skies to the heavens!

    Hope this finds you well, Dan.

    1. Thanks Jason. I don’t remember too much about the last shot, other than it was with my Holga 120N, and the usual memories I have of that quirky, improbable yet magical plastic machine. Must run another roll through it someday…

      I have heard of Gavin, and I had a couple of his books yes. My love of clouds goes way back! I think laying on your back on a summer day, watching big white fluffy clouds roll over head is about as blissful experience as you can get in nature… My office (at work) is nothing special, nor is the town it’s in, but we are on the first floor (ie one level up) and I’m next to a window with a pretty decent view of the sky. I’m often gazing out!

      My current phone (Sony XPeria) has a pretty decent camera, it’s fairly wide (25mm) and has a widescreen (16:9) mode which I really should utilise more, then give them a spruce up in Snapseed.

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