I was a little hesitant and reluctant to edit one of my overcast photos from a recent New Zealand trip. I felt there is a potential in the atmosphere and colors, but every picture requires a particular mood for both shooting and editing. A few weeks ago I had watched some editing tutorials about the colors and color grading. Apparently, this information was a missing piece to the puzzle. So, when I was browsing through the archive the other day, I figured I was ready. The time has come.
How To Create Interesting Photo In Overcast Weather
When you look out of the window and see an overcast weather, you think “well, maybe next time”. But don’t be fooled. This kind of weather can produce impressive photographs with much less effort than you would think. Here are the reasons:
- The light is ambient
- All the details are clearly visible
- You can focus on the structure or colors
- The sky can still be gorgeous
Let me elaborate on the last bit, the sky. It really depends on the thickness of the clouds. There can be a situation when the clouds are overly massive and do not let the light go through. In this case, the resulting sky will turn out pretty boring. Unlike the other situation, when the coverage is close to 100%, but the thickness varies producing fantastic light and color patterns. The mentioned weather is one of my favorite lighting conditions.
How To Predict Quality Light
The chances to understand the cloud thickness just by looking at the sky, especially at night, are dim. This is when the Skippy Sky application comes in handy. The site looks weird but shows some beneficial information. Pick your area and then play with the different buttons on top. For the cloud transparency, there is a dedicated button showing the chart. This transparency parameter is what you need. Other useful info shows when you select different cloud types: low clouds, mid clouds, high clouds. Of course, the best colors and brightness are produced by the high clouds. They also mean the light show starts earlier. The low clouds are ideal for some stormy atmosphere and also when there is a gap just above the horizon, but that deserves a different tutorial 😉
Moody Photos In Overcast Weather
Ambient Light Sunrise Photo
This photo is the one that inspired me to write the article you are reading. It was a rainy morning in Milford Sound. In fact, rainy is not the right word. I don’t know the proper description for the morning of the torrential rains and high wind. The number of the waterfalls flowing down from the surrounding mountains went from like 5 to 30 (approximately). But it, admittedly, didn’t scare me and off I went. Just to try something different to the Mitre Peak I ventured to the river. Have a look at the source photos I created. For a novice photographer, it is not obvious just how much potential they have. Key points:
- Two colors in the sky. The bottom part is blue and is backlit. It is better visible on the darker shot.
- Lush greens everywhere
- Beautiful orange moss on the rocks
- There is not much of contrast, which allows for all details to be visible.
With all these little details tied together, we have some good raw material to work with. We need to very carefully work with the contrast and with the colors to take it all from the photo.
Epic Ocean Panoramic Stormy Photo
The picture shown below started out from a 97% cloud coverage forecast. Like, who would even bother crawling out of bed in the middle of the night? Well, I did and see what happened. One of the best light shows I’ve ever seen. One moment I was even a little worried that a blue cloud could turn into a tornado because it was twisting and turning all the time.
Not sure if the clouds are too thick? Go shoot. Not sure if the light will be good? Go shoot. Hesitant about …? Go shoot. Jokes aside, Mother Nature is way more wise than us. Of course, there is a chance of gray and dull sadness, but there is a chance of some epic experience! I did some of my best photos in the recent years during the unfavorable forecast weather conditions.
There are also heaps of other tips and techniques in this Seascape Photography tutorial.
How To Photograph Overcast Weather
- Check type of clouds and their transparency
- Focus on the details and colors
- Look for the ambient soft light, you can enhance it later
- In truly overcast and dull light try to find interesting textures
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