Clear Blue Skies

Volcanic ash might have caused havoc to the world’s airlines and inconvenience to a many passengers – including several friends of mine and my son, who got an extra week’s stay in America with some more wild swimming.

But for those of us who live near Heathrow it was sheer bliss! We hadn’t realised here how much incessant background noise – day and night – the airport was responsible for, and it was almost like moving out to the country.  Nor how much our skies are normally populated by vapour trails. This morning as I performed my daily workout (not the most strenuous of activities, but good for the heart) I looked up at the sky and realised that every bit of cloud cover was man made, with con trails in virtually every direction speading out to give light and fairly diffuse clouds over perhaps a fifth of the sky.

Of course these trails eventually vaporize in the sun and later in the day we still sometimes get clear blue skies, but those few days when ash grounded the planes were something rather special. Despite being busy with other things I did find time to take advantage of them with a few pictures, in Finsbury Park and Wandsworth.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

The skies seemed a little deeper blue than normal, perhaps because of the ash. We had expected some rather special sunsets too, but I didn’t see any, though I’m not sure I would have photographed them in any case. File with cute cats so far as I’m concerned.

Actually I don’t much like clear blue skies either, better to have some clouds, but the do need to be real clouds. Con trails can be a nuisance, and its often hard to convince viewers that those marks in the sky are not scratches on the print and I have been known to retouch them out of pictures, especially when sending files to Alamy, otherwise their quality control may reject the images.

Alamy are also responsible for the elimination of countless birds from the sky too. Once you’ve had an image rejected for ‘dust’  that you know was seagulls, it’s easier to play safe and simply clone out those little dots.

You can see more blue skies on my pictures from Wandsworth and Finsbury Park on My London Diary, but I’ve taken better pictures of both places previously – with clouds.  Some of my acquaintances threw up their hands in horror when I told them I’d been photographing in Finsbury Park in 2003, expressing surprise that I had survived and not been mugged for the Hassleblad Xpan and other expensive gear I was carrying.

© 2002 Peter Marshall
Finsbury Park, 2002

Not a great deal of cloud there, but here are two images taken a few hundred yards and 8 years apart on the New River that really show the difference.

© 2002 Peter Marshall

© 2010, Peter Marshall

Yes, I prefer clouds!

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