Some people get discouraged taking photos outside when the weather isn’t that great. Too many clouds or poor lighting tend to have a negative spin for some. I say let’s get out and enjoy gloomy weather in all of it’s glory.
I personally like creating images with cloudy skies. I think it can bring photos to the next level or even be the catalyst of a great project. All you need to do is understand how to properly expose the image and learn a few quick editing tips. Let’s take a look on how to take the image.
First, compose your shot. I suggest not shooting directly at the sun, but to take the image with the sun behind you. I know that we are talking about cloudy conditions but keep in mind that the sun can penetrate through a thin layer of clouds and be somewhat problematic in some cases. Next, take a look at your histogram on your camera. A quick tip is to use the live view mode and display the histogram in it. Then you can adjust the exposure using either the shutter speed, Aperture or ISO. Try to keep all of the information within the histogram. The secret is not to over expose your sky by making your sky too bright, as you could lose important details. The overall image might look too dark but we will correct this issue on the computer later.
Secondly, use the built in flash or an external flash to light a subject. Keep in mind that we are trying to keep the image in an overall darker format than you would like for now. This will include any people you are trying to photograph as well. Try to use a flash to light the subject and be careful not to put too much light on them. You want them to look good but not too bright.
To finish, open your editing software of choice. Most of the modern photo editing programs will have the features required to do the job. Keep in mind that there are a lot of options out on the market, spending a few dollars could make the difference between great and ok results.
Ok that being said, look for the Highlights slider. This is by far the best tool to bring details and drama in a cloudy scene. Make sure to play with the slider, move from side to side so you can see the difference and find the look you want.
Then go to the Shadows slider. This tool will bring back details that were too dark before. Your image should look better now and have more balance.
After that, a look at the Exposure slider. You might want your photo to be a little brighter or darker at this point. I only play ever so lightly with it mainly because it will affect the whole image versus targeted areas.
The last slider I use is the Vignette. I like to apply a mid to strong vignette to my cloudy image because it will direct the viewer to the middle of the image and will give
a little more drama to the edge of the image.
That’s it! No need to go too crazy on the editing part to create a great image. So I encourage everyone to get out there and explore mother nature on stormy days…
Great editing software ideas for MAC users: Adobe Lightroom, Macphun Luminar, Picktorial.