Copyright Scott Bourne 2010 - All Rights Reserved

(Note the vulture above was photographed on a cloudy day. Had it been sunny, the contrast range would have been so great that there would be no detail in the bird’s dark feathers.)

As I write this, it’s a rare cloudy day on the beach at Estero Lagoon. Many photographers leave their camera at home on cloudy days. Wow what a mistake. Cloudy days can make for some tremendous photography. Here is just a short list of photo opportunities on cloudy days.

1. People/Portraits

Clouds mimic the nice diffuse light of a soft-box. This diffuse light is flattering, easy to work with, doesn’t cast harsh shadows and reduces the squinting caused by direct sunlight.

2. Forests

It’s very difficult to photograph a forest in harsh sunlight. You end up with splotchy, unattractive light. Cloudy days allow you to keep the contrast in check.

3. Tide Pools

If you’re lucky enough to be near the ocean you have probably seen tide pools. These are very tough to photograph during bright sunny days. The specular highlights blow out all too easily.

4. Waterfalls/Streams

Waterfalls and streams can be at their very best on a cloudy day. If you want to slow down the shutter speed and blur the water, it’s easier on a cloudy day since there’s less light to work with to begin with. Similar to photographing tide pools you control specular highlights and lastly, you avoid splotchy light.

5. Dramatic Skies

When you have interesting clouds you have interesting sun shots. Sunrises and sunsets are much more interesting on a cloudy day – just so long as the cloud cover has a few breaks here and there. The suns rays bursting through the clouds is also a nice shot.
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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. […] 23, 2010 by Mark E. Johnson Scott Bourne, who does more nature work than we do, has a post up about shooting on cloudy days – something to think about as you work on the Beauty of Light […]

  2. […] It’s Cloudy – Don’t Put That Camera Away (Note the vulture above was photographed on a cloudy day. Had it been sunny, the contrast range would have been so great […] […]

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