“Mackerel Sky” Photography by Catherine Erb
The view from my bedroom window last week was spectacular. I found out later this cloud formation is known as a “Mackerel Sky”. I had to know more so I asked Wiki:
A mackerel sky is a common term for a sky with rows of cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds displaying an undulating, rippling pattern similar in appearance to fish scales; this is caused by high altitude atmospheric waves.
But a little more reading revealed further gifts:
Other phrases in weather lore take mackerel skies as a sign of changeable weather. Examples include “Mackerel sky, mackerel sky. Never long wet and never long dry”, and “A dappled sky, like a painted woman, soon changes its face”.
It is sometimes known as a buttermilk sky, particularly when in the early cirrocumulus stage, in reference to the clouds’ “curdled” appearance. In France it is sometimes called a ciel moutonné (fleecy sky); and in Spain a cielo empedrado (cobbled sky); in Germany it is known as Schäfchenwolken (sheep clouds), and in Italy the clouds are known as pecorelli (little sheep).
All of this put me in mind of my studio visit last fall with the charming Catherine Erb. Her camera has captured the most brilliant cloud formations but what she does with them afterward is truly uplifting. According to Catherine: “I spend the most time searching for glimpses of a things divine essence and being still and present enough to capture those moments. There is a little break in time that occurs after something comes into my viewfinder but before I have had a chance to react or form a judgment: there is clarity in that interval of time and I try to shoot and capture that moment. When I am successful, the result is not just an image, but a feeling and reminder that the magic always happens in the present.”
You too can catch a glimpse of the divine by visiting David Lusk’s Gallery in either Nashville or Memphis to see her work.
Artist’s web site: Catherineerbphotography.com