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Snapshot Inspiration

Shooting with Soul: A Caribbean Sunset

As I scanned through my photo library, one snapshot seemed to fit the description "Head in the Clouds" far and above the others. It's actually harder not to have your head in the clouds on an island vacation.

tropical sunset

Photo credit: Jennifer Gaudet

This post was inspired by a prompt entitled "Head in the Clouds" from Quarry Books' recent title Shooting with Soul. The prompt challenges readers to search for the personal, soulful implications within an image. Specifically in it's context, mood, and story, this shot conveys the sentiments of a sweet escape, a respite from reality that speaks to art, creativity, and the daily grind.

Contextually, it's a single moment captured from a week unplugged. Several days spent drenched in the raw beauty of a place on the other side of the world. My second experience with the Caribbean, and my first with Jamaican culture and its colors and Cajun spices. The balcony where I took this photo towered several floors above the resort property, but the scenery drove my focus upward to the softly sculpted clouds and colorful sky.

The colors mirrored my mood throughout the trip, and even now evoke a hint of it when I see the photo. Sun-soaked relaxation—carefree, rested over-indulgence hidden from the rhythm of normal life. The freed-up space—physical, mental, and emotional—clearing my head to soak in natural beauty to the fullest.

As a story, this pink and orange sky holds a narrative of inspiration and hope. Inspiration in the form of a reminder, that the constant busyness I race around in does have pause and reset buttons. And the possibility of free-spirited, stolen moments exists each day, regardless of whether or not I chase them.

It indicates hope to look up and beyond whatever clouds my foreground. It teaches me that looking up is important, often vitally important, because in doing so I remember that no matter what happens on my little canvas, the clouds will continue to paint a celestial masterpiece. Wrapping the world's uncertainties like a cosmic security blanket, every night an explosion of color like this occurs somewhere.

For me, this image is a call back to simplicity, a roadmap to life's pause button, and a reminder that the bigger picture is closer than we think—up in the clouds. 

Tell us about how the sky inspires your art!


-Learn and then break the rule of thirds. When shooting the sky, you can break this rule by placing your horizon line very low, allowing hte sky to fill most of the frame. You can also fill the entire frame with sky.

-When shooting digital, you may continue to adjust levels and add more fill light in the editing phase. Shoot in RAW mode to have more flexibility when making this adjustment. Finally, if you're shooting with a camera that does not offer much exposure control, do not shoot toward the sun. Shooting with the sun behind you or coming from the side will allow you to get more detail out of your sky.

Excerpted from Shooting with Soul by Alessandra Cave

Jennifer Gaudet

Jennifer is Associate Editor at Walter Foster Publishing. Lover of the written word and strong coffee, mostly anti-domestic, lifelong journal-keeper. Collector of anything striped. 

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A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.

Paul Cezanne

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