Netherlands-based artist Berndnaut Smilde has mastered the art of conjuring clouds as part of his Nimbus series. Smilde’s methods however are less mythic and more scientific, instead relying on a perfectly timed release of aerogel (also known as “liquid smoke”) a liquid made of 99.8 percent air making it one of the lightest solid materials on Earth. Of course science alone doesn’t account for the striking visual impact contained in each image, as the artist carefully selects the perfect location for the creation of each cloud and then painstakingly lights it from behind for the desired effect.

Smilde has three ucoming exhibitions this year including Ronchini Gallery in London from January 16 through February 16, the SFAC Galleries in San Francisco from February through April, and at Land of Tomorrow in Louisville, Kentucky also from February through April. You can learn more over on Smithsonian Magazine.

Photo by Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk and Onur Dag.