More often than not, I will get a call from a hesitant client about having their session on a cloudy day. Most people tend to think the best time to take pictures outdoors is when it’s sunny and bright out. I couldn’t disagree more.
Clouds are nature’s softbox. Cloud cover will diffuse the sunlight just as a softbox diffuses the light from a flash in a studio. The sunlight is coming through at all angles and is evenly distributed. This even distribution of light is called soft light and eliminates harsh shadows in your pictures. You will also achieve better exposure in your photograph on a cloudy day.
One of the things to keep in mind when shooting on a cloudy day is the post processing. I may have to brighten the picture up a bit to compensate for the “darker” light. However, since the difference between shade and light is minimal, the details that you capture are more accurate. They aren’t washed out in sunlight. You don’t have to worry about losing them when you brighten in the editing process.
Cloudy day photography is perfect for taking portraits or even candid shots because the lighting is more flattering. When shooting in full sun, you can sometimes get dark, shadowy eyes. That is not flattering for anyone! Sometimes on cloudy days, I have to break out my reflector so that I can get a little more light into my subject’s eyes. If you don’t have a reflector, a piece of white poster board works just as well! Another advantage of a cloudy day for portrait taking is no squinting.
And here’s another advantage to shooting on a cloudy day–you can see your LCD screen! When you are out in the bright sun, it is very difficult to see the screen. If you are like me, I run to find shade so I can flip through my images and make sure I got what I set out to capture. On a cloudy day, there is no need to shade the screen. Bonus in my book!
Of course, there are some things to keep in mind when shooting on a cloudy day. Since you are not shooting with a bright light source, you need to remember to use a slower shutter speed and wider aperture. If you were shooting on a bright, sunny day, your picture would be “blown out” if you did this. However, since there is less light available, you don’t run the risk of this.
And while you are out there on a cloudy day, make sure you get some pictures with the clouds! Clouds can add drama to your picture. They also help frame your picture!
Now that we’ve learned all the awesome things clouds do to our photos, let’s celebrate them! Your challenge this week is to capture the clouds above your world. Here are some tips for taking pictures of clouds.
1. Leave the fat. Make sure you shoot more sky than you think you might need. You can go ahead and crop your picture later!
2. Get creative! Just like shooting an other inanimate object, you need to let your creativity take over.
3. Watch your exposure. You may want to underexposure your cloud images so that you are capturing the white clouds and the blue sky. If you don’t underexpose, you may find yourself an all white photo!
I can’t wait to see what you come up with this week! Make sure you post your cloud photos onto our Facebook wall!
Did you miss a photography tutorial? Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. From learning how to shoot a self portrait, switch up your camera angles, follow the rule of thirds, properly read a histogram to capturing sun flares– it’s all right here. Our photography tutorial library is GROWING! Each week, we add new lessons and new blog posts full of amazing photography. Get inspired! Dig in!