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These awesome photos of clouds by dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde are by no means photoshopped.

The clouds are generated using a smoke machine, but Smilde must carefully monitor a room's humidity and atmosphere in order to get the smoke to hang so elegantly, and with such life-like form. Backlighting is used to bring out shadows from within the cloud, to give it that look of a looming and ominous rain cloud.

Nimbus - Sala Murat, 2012 Cloud in room
Sala Murat, Bari, IT
As part of 'Chaos Theory'
curated by Fausta Bolettieri 
and Roberto Lacarbonara
photo: Andrea Leonetti

Nimbus D'Aspremont, 2012
Cloud in room
Kasteel D'Aspremont-Lynden, Rekem, BE
photo: Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

"I wanted to make the image of a typical Dutch raincloud inside a space," Smilde told Gizmag. "I'm interested in the ephemeral aspect of the work. It's there for a brief moment and then the cloud falls apart. The work only exists as a photograph."

Nimbus II, 2012
cloud in room
Hotel MariaKapel, Hoorn
photo: Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

The effect is enhanced by Smilde's choice of setting. For his original work utilizing this method, titled "Nimbus" and first presented in 2010, the artist chose an empty studio with blue walls and a red floor (shown below). The blue walls produce the surreal impression that the clouds are trapped within an enclosed sky. Their ethereal space is preserved, however, by the sharp contrast with the red floor.

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