PlainSky, Nebraskans: Approaching Storm, Sand Creek Badlands

Approaching Storm, Sand Creek Badlands

Approaching Storm, Sand Creek Badlands

I’ve been told many times my landscape work looks different: I often place the horizon line low, allowing the sky and clouds to build their strength through much of the frame. Those same clouds are a hallmark of many of my best landscapes, creating lines and drama to complement the land.

I think that approach is due to my Great Plains roots. The prominent western painter George Dee Smith once told me, “You know, I visited Nebraska once. Big sky out there–almost scary.” As artists, we’re influenced by our surroundings, even as children; that same sky must have permeated my dreams and definitions of the world from such a young age that the photograph doesn’t feel quite right without those heavens stretching powerfully above the horizon.

This shot, made in early May as a severe storm advanced relentlessly across the high plains and Pine Ridge, gave me that same feeling.


  1. You did an excellent job capturing the motion of the storm – I can almost smell that approaching rain!

    I could not agree more with your comments about the impact growing up on the Plains has on one’s need to have a lot of sky overhead and a horizon that makes a complete circle. Once I figured that out about myself I was not only a lot more content living here on High Plains of Texas, but I was able to translate that into various artist endeavors. It was a good lesson to (finally) learn.

    1. Thanks–and well said. Emotionally embracing what we know so well (in our very bones, the dust from which we grew) is how to shoot our feelings.

      With a camera, that is. 🙂

  2. interesting reasoning behind your composition of the sky in your photos, this one works out epic here, although I imagine it doesn’t always work out as good as it does here

  3. Brett, your photo’s are AWESOME and I am a sky-watcher myself. Clouds are a work of art in themselves set above the land scapes they cover begain to take ones breath away in the beauty of the setting. I’m proud of you. Your Uncle Dave

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