Seeing a perfectly-formed cloud indoors can be a jarring sight. For Dutch photographer Berndnaut Smilde, it’s a living. Since 2010, he’s been working on an ongoing photo series of clouds floating within mansions, beside fashion icons and, as the video below shows, in vacant German churches:
“Clouds can be many things, and they can be threatening. But on the other hand, they can also be like a divine situation almost. So there’s always this duality in the work as well.”
Smilde, who lives in Amsterdam, has reached international fame with these cloud shots. He shoots water vapor from a can into the air, then unleashes a fog machine. In Smilde’s words, the vapor sticks to the smoke and pulls it down to create a realistic cloud replica. He places a strong backlight behind the cloud to give it sun-like rim lighting.
The work in progress looks like this:
…While the final products remove the fog machine altogether, giving the clouds a peculiar isolation:
“It’s just there for a few seconds. So it’s really about something that happened on that location, then afterwards, it’s gone.”