Although autumn is full of color from changing leaves, it can also come with its share of overcast days, but that’s no reason to keep your camera tucked away and give up on a productive shoot. Cloudy days present challenges, but when you know how to utilize their unique aspects, you’ll realize that overcast skies can be ideal for photography.
Shooting on a bright, sunny day may seem ideal, but sometimes you end up with pictures where the shadows are too dark, and the highlights are too light without sufficient dynamic range in between. However, on a cloudy day nature acts like a soft box kit because the clouds diffuse the bright light source of the sun, eliminating harsh darks and lights. On a cloudy day, you can capture detailed highlights, shadows and stunning tones instead of a stark contrast between direct sunlight and shade.
Subjects full of color such as autumn leaves, flowers, boldly painted buildings, murals and people dressed in layers of colors benefit from the diffused light on a cloudy day. The soft, even light is flattering and helps the colors stand out on your subject matter. Overcast days are ideal for wildlife photographers because it helps reveal the beauty of their details without sun glare from their fur or skin. Without the sun making humans or animals squint in the sun, the subjects appear more natural and relaxed.
While blue skies can be beautiful to behold and enjoy, they can also be somewhat boring in photographs. Clouds add interest and drama to an image, especially when you shoot during sunrise and sunset. The light shining from behind the clouds creates a dramatic landscape in the sky with a myriad of colors and unique textures.
Camera settings and gear
On an overcast day, you need to shoot with wider apertures and slower shutter speeds because there’s not as much light as on a sunny day. To avoid camera shake from holding your camera while shooting at such settings, use a tripod and the timer to prevent even your finger on the shutter from blurring the image.
Overcoming dull colors
Unfortunately, the light on an overcast day can be too flat and produce images with dull colors. This is an easy problem to fix by adding your own light such as from an off-camera flash and a reflector kit. With these tools, you can create highlights, add shadows and bring life to your subject matter. If you don’t have an off-camera flash or reflector, you can fix the images during processing by adjusting the levels until you have the right amount of light and dimension in your photographs.
Shooting on a cloudy day has its challenges and its rewards and hopefully now you realize that you don’t have to miss an entire day of shooting just because the weather wasn’t what you expected. Reveal just how dramatic the sky on an overcast day can be with Baboo Digital’s metal prints that breathe life and dimension into your best images.
Featured image by Movement Six