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Author Topic: How to deal with overcast?  (Read 9233 times)
magicbutton
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« on: December 27, 2006, 04:27:12 PM »
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Apologies up front if I am not posting this in the correct area.

I live in an extremely cloudy area of the US.  Western Michigan to be exact.  And when I say cloudy, I don't mean some clouds with breaks occasionally during the daylight hours or cloudy mostly in the afternoon or some such exploitable pattern.  Many a week goes by with nothing but slate gray, featureless clouds.  It's not unusual for us to go an entire month or more without seeing the sun during the winter. No exaggeration.

Without crying a river, I'll get to my question:  What suggestions or techniques could you share to get some usable photographs (outdoors) during this kind of lightless period time of year?  

I mostly pursue landscape and street style photography.  I dig into the surrounding areas for interesting subjects as best I can, but without *some* contrasting light the image is simply boring.  I've considered travel during this time of year but that's not always an option for me.  

Appreciate any input!
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colourperfect
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2006, 05:02:39 PM »
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Try images of rocks / rock formations / pebbles etc
Overcast sky's give even light that doesn't cast shadows
Is often like that in the UK

Ian

http://www.colourperfect.co.uk
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2006, 05:14:42 PM »
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As pointed out the UK is often suffering from dull lifeless grey skies, with mizzle and fog.

During this time it is best to either - retreat indoors and get out some studio lighting and do indoor work, or perhaps, do nightime photography with the longer nights/shorter days. If it is inclement outside then retreat indoors, if indoors you can't do any photogaphy then raise a glass or two and drown your sorrows until the spring comes around again ;-)
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2006, 05:59:35 PM »
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You've got the biggest softbox possible - find a way to take advantage of it. If you want to add light, add it. The strobist is a great resource in this area.
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thompsonkirk
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2006, 10:02:31 PM »
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Having lived for many years in the Pacific Northwest (before fleeing), I know what you're talking about - but I don't consider it such a gloomy photographic situation.  As above, nature's softlight reflector is better for many subjets & scenes than stronger lighting.  

In the old days (film photography), about all you could do was increase your paper contrast grade or polycontrast filter.  But now we have more alternatives:

1.  Increase saturation to fight grayness.

2.  Use Local Contrast Enhancement - as described by Michael.

3.  Use Mac Holbert's midrange contrast enhancement action, from the advanced Epson Print Academies.

And don't forget to smile - and the sun will shine?
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2006, 07:48:18 PM »
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Quote
I live in an extremely cloudy area of the US.  Western Michigan to be exact.  And when I say cloudy, I don't mean some clouds with breaks occasionally during the daylight hours or cloudy mostly in the afternoon or some such exploitable pattern.  Many a week goes by with nothing but slate gray, featureless clouds.  It's not unusual for us to go an entire month or more without seeing the sun during the winter. No exaggeration.

Without crying a river, I'll get to my question:  What suggestions or techniques could you share to get some usable photographs (outdoors) during this kind of lightless period time of year? 


[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=92549\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I lived in Western Michigan for a few years.  The way I dealt with the long gray months was to move to California.  

And when the days get short and cloudy here I head to Asia....

 

If that isn't possible, why not work in B&W and get some of those moody, dreamy shots?
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magicbutton
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« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2006, 08:34:15 PM »
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Good stuff. Thank you all.

Ya Bob, I've seriously considered those options.  It's good to know someone made it out of here alive!
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2006, 09:12:02 AM »
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I love shooting during overcast/rainy days; the light is very soft and it is much easier to deal with dynamic range than during sunny days. You don't have to have a spectacular sunset to get a decent landscape image:



It is easy to add contrast with level or curve adjustments, or with my midtone sharpening actions. The Shadow/Highlight Recovery tool is also very useful.
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boku
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« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2006, 11:35:31 AM »
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Overcast is a great opportunity if you work it...

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Bob Kulon

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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2006, 12:29:42 PM »
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These are two excellent examples. Jonathan's shows that skies can be intertesting even when cloudy. I was about to reply to his post suggesting that one simply avoid including the sky when it is a uniform gray overcast. And then Bob showed a fine example of just what I meant.

I, for one, would get mighty bored if I had clear skies or just a few puffy clouds every day.  
« Last Edit: December 29, 2006, 12:30:22 PM by EricM » Logged

-Eric Myrvaagnes

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katemann
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2006, 08:15:03 AM »
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I have the same problem here and it seems that, as the weather is on a warming trend (not to start a controversy) - we don't even get the sparkling sunshine on iced vegetation and other visual delights of January.  

I've been struggling with it as well. The two examples are encouraging. Bob, where is the fabulous mill? I am struck with curiosity about the interior!
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howiesmith
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2006, 11:20:22 AM »
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Nice thing (one anyway) with overcast is exposure is the same for a long time and in nearly every direction.  Nice for manual camera users.
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simonkit
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2006, 05:11:39 PM »
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Hi,

I share your frustrations - prolonged overcast weather can be difficult to live with sometimes. As others have mentioned though it's a great time for those waterfall / forest or macro shots, it's also possible to catch a few breaks occasionally too providing some dramatic effects  - I still prefer the sunshine though  

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boku
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2006, 07:16:49 AM »
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Quote
I have the same problem here and it seems that, as the weather is on a warming trend (not to start a controversy) - we don't even get the sparkling sunshine on iced vegetation and other visual delights of January.   

I've been struggling with it as well. The two examples are encouraging. Bob, where is the fabulous mill? I am struck with curiosity about the interior!
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That is Lanterman's Mill - a 5-story structure located in an urban park in Youngstown, Ohio. The interior is open (and working) during summer months. The park is called Mill Creek Metropark. I've been there a couple of times (it's a long drive from my place). Each time the sky was overcast, which helps since it sits within a wooded valley. "The shot" is supposed to be with snow cap and frozen falls, but this winter is shaping up to be rather mild.

More photos at: [a href=\"http://boku.smugmug.com/gallery/1880973]http://boku.smugmug.com/gallery/1880973[/url]
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Bob Kulon

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Play it Straight and Play it True, my Brother.
David Anderson
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2006, 07:20:18 AM »
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with people shots if the day is crap and you still have to shoot you can try bringing the background down and using flash, I find it really punches the subject out of a dull background and adds a lot of drama..

Here's one on a rainy day in New Zealand, the background is at -1 with a slow sync flash ( Canon 580 on a 1DSII ).



And here's another with the background about -2 stops and filled with a ProPhoto 7B and 5 foot softbox.

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mcanyes
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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2007, 01:51:15 PM »
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OK I'll bite, what is Mac Holbert's midrange contrast enhancement action?
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Michael Canyes
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« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2007, 03:09:37 PM »
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If you can't bet 'em, join 'em.

 http://www.pbase.com/lenw/image/63046231
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Sherri Meyer
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« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2007, 03:46:36 PM »
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When shooting in overcast weather, there are a few things you can do to improve your images. Here are 3 things to incorporate into your shooting.

1. Shoot during midday.

2. Eliminate the sky.

3. If a person is included in your photograph, have them wear something red such as a daypack, bandana, hat, jacket etc.

Hope this helps,

Sherri Meyer

http://www.sherrimeyer.com
http://www.sherrimeyer.com/Blog
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