Czech World War II photographer turns his camera to the heavens for new exhibition

Clouds by Ladislav Sitensky

The photographer Ladislav Sitensky, whose new exhibition Mraky, or Clouds, opened at Prague's British Council on Tuesday, has been taking photos for an incredible seven decades. He began taking photos in 1933 at the age of 14 and established himself as a magazine photographer while still in his mid teens. With the outbreak of World War II Mr Sitensky joined Britain's Royal Air Force as an official photographer, and took the photos of war planes which later made him famous. Ian Willoughby spoke to Ladislav Sitensky at the opening of the exhibition, and asked him when he had taken the series of photographs of clouds.

"During the last 70 years. Because I am 83, and I've been taking pictures since I was 13. I suppose I am most likely the only photographer who has been taking pictures of everything, whether it were girls, architecture, war or sports - everything which passed by me I've taken pictures of."

All of these photos here are of clouds - why clouds?

"Because it's nature. I like nature very much and of course clouds - that was always since my first film, which I did in 1933, I was taking pictures of clouds."

You are associated with aviation and flying - were any of these photos taken from planes?

"No not one (laughs). It's true I've been six years with the Royal Air Force, but I never really felt really well in a plane. My stomach didn't like it - the smaller the plane was the worse it was. "

Do you know how many flights you made?

"Not many really. I've done more flights after the war. I've been in 40 different countries, I was in four continents, so then I got used to it."

Do you still take photos often?

"No, unfortunately. Everything went well through all my life till I was 80; all my life I wasn't ill at all, I didn't know what sickness was. I always liked very much mountains, and my dream when I was young was to climb Mount Everest. Of course I didn't manage, there was a war on and so on. But luckily enough five years ago I flew in a plane just above Mount Everest, so at least I've seen it with my own eyes."