Clouds 365 Project by Kelly DeLay

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This is Year Five of the Clouds 365 Project.

I started the Clouds 365 Project on July 1, 2009, as a commitment to do something creative every day. My goal was, and still is, to shoot an image or video of clouds every day for 365 days. On days that are cloudless or rainy, I have to stretch creatively to illustrate the day. There are no rules; I just want to react and see where this project takes me.

It has taken me to places I never dreamed. It has drawn me into open fields where, awe-stricken, I’ve captured rare and wonderful phenomena–like super cells that produce grapefruit size hail, anvil crawler lightning, double rainbows and every variety of clouds–with my lens. It has led me down treacherous roads during downpours, where my camera has documented rotating wall clouds and bolts of lightning too close for comfort. It has transformed me into a clouds evangelist of sorts, with speaking engagements at conferences and for meteorology groups. It has surprised me with awards nominations, and a Webby Award for the best personal website / blog, an international Clouds-loving community of several thousand, and the broadcast of my work on a local and national weather program. It has lifted my vision–literally and figuratively—from morning until dusk, my eyes constantly combing the skies for the day’s best moment. It has made me a better artist, and a better—happier—person.

From the start, it was my intention to make Clouds 365 a part of my everyday life. I wanted this practice of observation to be tied into the fabric of my life—the habit of looking up and noticing the patterns and beauty of the clouds that envelop us every single day. Maintaining this daily commitment is not easy, and some days are more challenging than others. As a husband and father, my priority is my family; sometimes school and work commitments, dance recitals, and family obligations conflict with my goal of catching that perfect shot in the day’s best light.

Yet I deeply care about this project and work to make it the best it can be in spite of life’s daily challenges. Perhaps surprisingly, I find myself devoting much more time to it now than I did in its early days. It’s not unusual for me to devote two or three hours throughout a day to studying weather patterns, scoping out the best vantage points, and shooting and editing my images. In fact, I shot over 82,000 images during Year 2, including time lapses! I have worn out my first camera and am on my second.

Year 4 also brings new goals for Clouds 365. I want to learn as much as I can about every cloud formation I see and capture in an image. I want to learn more about those crazy, rare weather phenomena I occasionally witness. I also plan to travel as much as possible to take advantage of developing weather patterns in scenic spots. And I am adding some new features to my daily images, including EXIF data for fellow photographers interested in the camera settings I use as well as written descriptions to give context and background.

Year 3 will also continue to embrace my core values for the project. The Clouds 365 is dedicated to Art, Learning, Determination, Process and Patterns