Clouds 365 Project

Photographic experiment shooting clouds everyday for 1825 days.
by weather and environmental photographer Kelly DeLay

About the Clouds 365 Project

From Weather Photographer, Kelly DeLay:

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 have shot over 82,000 images every year for 4 years, including time lapses! I have worn out my first camera and am on my second.

Year 5 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 5 will also continue to embrace my core values for the project. The Clouds 365 is dedicated to

Art, Learning, Determination, Process and Patterns

Art remains the most obvious facet of Clouds 365. I will continue to create hundreds of individual pieces of art, all around a central theme. Making this commitment to art has been a welcome chance to turn back to something I love, and I cannot now imagine ever living without it.

Learning has always been important to me. I’ve tried a lot of paths, sometimes just to learn something new. And I’ve always been interested in clouds. So I don’t just want to take pictures of clouds; I want to learn the “why” and “how” of clouds. I want to know more about this landscape I daydream beneath and how clouds affect all of us here below.

Determination is the stuff all worthwhile projects are built on. It’s not easy to do anything every single day, and this project depends on following through every day—365 days in a row, year after year. I appreciate the discipline of it, and I love the example it sets for my children.

Process matters. Good work flow is satisfying in its own right apart from the success of the final product. Effective work flow allows me to maximize the outcome of my work while minimizing the costs. I want my process to be open and transparent.

Part of the challenge in developing my process has been keeping my equipment with me to capture the right moment. My Canon 5D Mark II and an assortment of lenses and tripods are on me wherever I go, which impacts the flow of all my activities and keeps the project “heavy” on my mind.

Pattern is everywhere, and it fascinates me. My hope is that, by recording these images of clouds every day, I am able to look back and find patterns in the clouds themselves and in my work recording them. I never know what I will find or what it will mean, but the Clouds 365 Project gives me the chance to wonder and to gather the data to explore. Sometimes I will weather patterns reflected in my images. Even more interesting, sometimes I find patterns in my composition, observation and documentation of the clouds.

We use PayPal if you wish to donate to the Clouds 365 Project. I appreciate your support

On a personal note, I would like to thank my wife Stephanie and my two daughters for their constant support and inspiration. I would also like to thank all of my friends and family, I could not do this without them.

Thanks for your interest in the Clouds 365 Project. If you have comments or suggestions, you can contact me here. I would like to hear from you.

~ Kelly DeLay


5 Responses to “About the Clouds 365 Project”

  1. […] The Clouds 365 Project represents my commitment to do something creative every day. Beginning July 1, 2009, I will shoot an image or video of clouds every day for 365 days. On days that are cloudless or rainy, I will have to stretch creatively to illustrate the day. There are no rules, I just want to react and see where this project takes me. For more about the project: […]

  2. Dear Kelly,

    I am an architect from London, UK. Some time ago I came up with an idea to publish some of my amateur photos of architecture on the most beautiful background which is sky. It took me some time to built a site and implement mechanism so people could upload similar photos. I launched it a month ago and find it amazing to grow as I receive more and more nice feedback from around the world.

    Today one of my friends send me a link to your facebook page and I was knocked down. What a great idea and passion you have! Your project is absolutely amazing.

    If you have a moment please take a look at and my facebook page

    Well done!

    Marcin Mogilnicki

  3. Vicki says:

    I am curious about whether there is any spiritual aspect to your project — or is it just an appreciation of beauty and creation?

  4. Yodamom says:

    I have been a life long watcher of clouds. I used to lie in the grass for hours and just study the colors, hues and shapes. I try to take time to enjoy their beauty but I too sometimes find life has other designs on my time. I am grateful you publish you photos for all to enjoy.
    Thank you

  5. seany says:

    I am a meteorology student, and this is AWESOME. very inspiring.

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