Too gray for photohgraphy??

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by CPorter, Feb 13, 2005.

  1. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I guess this is the best place for this thread. I am interested in hearing from others regarding photography during dismally overcast skies. Do you always wait for optimum light (admittedly, I do a good bit of the time), or have you been successful on capturing better than expected images on gray days, when rain is not an issue?
     
  2. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For portraits, I think an overcast day can be great. Especially when the you can see the disc of the sun. It creates a very luminous and flattering light. Kinda like God's giant softbox. When the clouds start to get too heavy and grey, and the sun is really obscure, then I tend to stop shooting. Although, playing around with fast films and grain can sometimes be very effective when it's really grey out.

    That said, I shoot far less film in the dead of winter, when the days are greyer, and spend far more time in the darkroom printing up summertime photographs. :tongue:
     
  3. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Being from Pittsburgh, overcast days are common in my life. Learning to visualize your final image and make the appropriate adjustments to exposure, development, and printing is something that's worth working on.

    You'll never be able to make a gray day look like a sunny day (at least not without a ton of darkroom work...just the lack of sharp shadows alone is enough to keep you fromt easily emulating sun), but on a gray day you can still produce photographs with a lot of life to them.

    If you haven't read them yet, I can highly recommend "The Negative" and "The Print" by Adams, as well as "Creative Black and White Photography" by Les McLean as good books to help you with visualization. There are countless other good books out there as well that delve into this subject. (Besides, on days when you feel it's too gray to make photographs, reading about photography isn't a bad option!)
     
  4. mark

    mark Member

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    I think you just get a different look to your pictures on a gray day. It forces you to shoot differently and choose different types of subjects. There is always local contrast that can be played with and you leave out the sky in a lot more occasions. Gray days make for some moody pictures. And on top of that what is the "right" light anyway? It will be different for different people. If you shoot color certain colors totally stand out on cloudy days. At least they do for me.
     
  5. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    In my opinion Chuck, overcast skies can give the some of the very best B&W images. You usually get the fantastic soft, diffused lighting that can be used very effectively. As Mark mentioned, local contrast can be enhanced, and this can be used to give an image life, glow and a 3-dimensional depth that's difficult to achieve from direct sunlight.

    The even, diffused lighting allows easy and accurate exposure of the film, then with some contrast control during developing, a really nice print can result. This is the beauty of B&W photography, the final image does not have to actually represent how things looked at the time of pressing the shutter.

    I've attached an image taken during the rain and without direct sun, that hopefully is a relevant example. At present I'm without a scanner, sorry about the quality.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    When interesting light isn't available, concentrating on form and shape makes sense to me. Even texture can be adequately revealed in 'dull' light if it (the texture) is vivid enough. No need to sit out a gray day!
     
  7. Grady O

    Grady O Member

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    I don't mind when its overcast and it looks like rain with some storm clouds, but when it's just a dull February day I don't really plan on taking any photos.
     
  8. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    I have come to call it, "opalescent all-enveloping rainforest light". There's nothing like the light from a couple thousand square mile soft box!!!!!!

    Murray
     
  9. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Chuck, I have taken some nice photographs on grey days. I do not get as many days to go out and photograph so I have learned to think/visualize differently on overcast days.
    So just go out and enjoy taking pictures.
    And that is a really nice example that John attached.

    gene
     
  10. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    I find a grey day just right for shooting waterfalls, especially when there's shady areas to deal with. The shade has better fill and reduces the range of brightness to a manageable level. It's pretty common for falls in this area to be grown over with trees or be in a deep gorge shading the area.
     
  11. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Make (photographic) hay while the day is gray. :cool:

    My thought process just shifts to smaller objects, where the soft light is an advantage.
     
  12. VoidoidRamone

    VoidoidRamone Subscriber

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  13. Steve Sherman

    Steve Sherman Subscriber

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    Everyone has their own preferences, but for me overcast is almost as good as just before or just after the sun goes down. No intrusive shadow lines to deal with
     
  14. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    "Wherever there is light one may photograph". --Alfred Stieglitz
     
  15. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

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    gray, overcast day = worlds largest softbox. What's not to love. Definately not high contrast but great for portraits with a reflector.
     
  16. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Didn't Edward Weston say something about the variations of natural light and infinite possibilities? I acuatally prefer overcast skys when photographing people and...well, just about anything that doesn't incluse the sky. As somebody already said. Overcast skys are like God's giant softbox. And don't let a little rain silence your shutter either!
     
  17. richard littlewood

    richard littlewood Member

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    I take a lot of photographs on dull days Check out my site www.richard-littlewood.com
    Here in the Pennine area of England we get too many!
     
  18. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I can only echo what everyone else has bought up. I live in the desert southwest and I wish we had more gray days.

    Regards
    Paul
     
  19. mark

    mark Member

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    Hey Paul you are about to get your wish. Gray for several days. We're socked in, up here in the North east corner of AZ.
     
  20. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I was in Geen Valley over the weekend, the Santa Rita Mts were half covered in low clouds with shafts of sunlight peeking though. More rain later this week, looking forward to it. The folks who were flooded out are not.

    Paul
     
  21. mark

    mark Member

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    I bet that was beautiful. All them folks who built is flood zones are a bit worried these days. But is never floods in Southern AZ right :wink: