By Kerry Drager
Nature's great white canopy - a solid overcast sky - produces wonderfully soft and even light. But not all photographers appreciate it, especially when they're planning to shoot sweeping scenics! Still, working in such conditions can be a major photographic benefit - assuming you narrow your viewpoint and choose the right (i.e., colorful) subjects.
On a recent trip to California's Central Coast, I planned on photographing dramatic sunsets and sunrises. But fog and white cloudy skies got in the way of those grand plans. As a result, I switched gears from big seacapes to intimate scenes that didn't rely on a colorful sky.
And that's really the key to overcast success: Find subjects with lots of character and style. Flowers certainly qualify, but so do other scenes. And on this trip, I found some interesting architectural patterns, plus the abstract bottom of an old boat. The soft light of overcast enhanced the colors and details. See some of the results below.
Incidentally, for all of these photos, I used a tripod to ensure the best image quality and to fine-tune the compositions. Also, a polarizing filter helped the "look" of each photo - by reducing the amount of glare in order to boost the colors. I use a polarizer frequently on overcast days - for subjects with reflective surfaces, such as wood, painted metal, glass, foliage, etc.
- My BetterPhoto.com online photo classes: Creative Light and Composition and Creative Close-ups
- BetterPhoto.com's online photography school
- BetterPhoto.com's photo sharing online options
- My BP article: Overcast Photography: Good Light, Bad Sky
Old Boat Patterns and Fishing Pole ... (c) Kerry Drager
overcast light, 12-24 zoom set at 24mm, f22 at 1/4 sec;
Morro Bay CA marina
Building Detail ... (c) Kerry Drager
overcast, Cayucos, CA Coast; 50mm lens, f11 at 1/8th sec., 100 ISO
Architectural Abstract ... (c) Kerry Drager
overcast light, 12-24 zoom at 24mm; f11 at 1 sec;
Morro Bay CA Coast