Culture Magazine

Clouds; My Images, Poem by Rod Mckuen

By Jpbrandanophoto @JPBrandanophoto
As you may have noticed, the sky and particularly clouds dominate much of my landscape images. Heck, even in portraiture I tend to  include the sky. 
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
I think a blue sky with soft billowy clouds can be very dramatic and I love to see them and photograph them. They're another part of nature that we see all the time but tend to ignore. We shouldn't. Clouds can be amazing. In landscape photography, clouds can make a good image great.
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
There are times when I like to feature the sky and clouds, sometimes just including the sky in an image.
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
But most times I like to include some of the landscape in the images as a visual anchor.
Yesterday Phyllis and I visited a local beach that I had read about. I read that it was not very busy and in a secluded area with a series of 13 beaches with parking along a two lane road. It is so secluded that beach 13 is a nude beach. Public nudity is against the law in Florida   
but the beaches are on federal land and there is no federal law against it. It was kind of funny that its parking lot was one of the fullest. Now we didn't go down to that beach, honest, no really we didn't. I wanted nature images but that would be a little too much nature for us. Besides, I was looking for sky images but not moons!!!
We walked down to one of the other beaches and it was beautiful: white fine sand, blue water, not very many people and a great sky. 
As I started making images I liked what I saw. Up or down the beach both views were equally great. I took a few images right away.
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
Then I realized that what was grabbing my attention the most was the sky with great clouds in both directions. I decided to concentrate on the sky: composing to make them the most dominant part of my images. There are many "rules" of composing and I do use them a lot, especially the rulers of thirds, which I will go into on another day. 
One of the rules that is broken a lot by some photographers is where to put the horizon in your images. The rule is not to put it in the middle, dividing your image in half visually. Should this rule ever be broken? Of course, all rules in photography should be broken or stretched. Well, maybe not the one about charging your camera's batteries but most all others should be tested. Below are two examples of the same image. The first one has the horizon at almost 50%. The other has the horizon lower in the image. I think the second is more dramatic and interesting.
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
As I sat in front of my computer, I remembered a poet from the 1960s and 1970s. Rod McKuen was a modern poet. This was no Robert Frost. He wrote poems (and songs) that touched us back then. He was relevant, a term we would not have used in the 60s and 70s. He was a fascinating man whom I will write about another day. 
To give you an idea what kind of man this poet was, here is an example. Before a tour of South Africa in the1970s, Mckuen demanded 'mixed seating' among white and black concert-goers. This opened the doors for successful tours for African American performers, including Sammy and Ella. If you don't know who they are, you should!! His humanitarian efforts have twice won him the prestigious Freedoms Foundation Award.
I had many of his albums and books. I remembered that he wrote a few poems about the sky and clouds. This is one of my favorites:
             Pushing The Clouds Away
Clouds are not the cheeks of angels you know
they're only clouds.
Friendly sometimes,
but you can never be sure.
If I had longer arms
I'd push the clouds away
or make them hang above the water somewhere else,
but I'm just a man


CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN

Who needs and wants,
mostly things he'll never have
Looking for that thing thats hardest to find


CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN

CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
I've been going a long time now
along the way I've learned some things.
You have to make the good times yourself
take the little times and make them into big times
and save the times that are all right
for the ones that aren't so good
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
I've never been able 
to push the clouds away by myself
Help me.
Please.
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
CLOUDS; MY IMAGES, POEM BY ROD MCKUEN
If you like this post please Stumble it in the share button on this blog (upper right). Also don't forget to click on the images for a larger view.
I'm including a video of Rod so that you could hear him recite his poem.


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