If you are a photographer and have been shooting for any length of time, you know that there are many different conditions that affect the look of your images. Lighting is one of the most important factors in determining whether or not an image will come out intriguing.
But once you know how the light can work for you, you can decide whether you manipulate it for a great image or just create something while bending the rules of lighting. Good light doesn’t always suffice to a great image, but knowing in which light you can create specific moods, will.
One of the best times to shoot is with cloudy background, because it gives you soft light but allows for more flexibility while shooting outdoors.
In fact, clouds offer just as much reason for photo excitement as a sunny day, and I’m going to tell you why.
Shooting with a cloudy background is easier than shooting in direct sunlight
An overcast sky essentially turns the sun into a giant softbox. This means that you get big, beautiful, diffused light and lovely, soft shadows.
You don’t have to worry about shadows being too harsh, and you can shoot in a variety of locations and light conditions. In addition to this, you can shoot at any time of day, allowing for more flexibility in your schedule and location choices.
Clouds create a seamless backdrop with no shadows
Clouds create gradual transitions between highlights and shadows. Colors also easily stand out when shooting during an overcast day and you can use amazing backlighting while shooting on a cloudy day.
When you’re shooting in direct sunlight, shadows can become a problem because they have a tendency to cast unflattering lines and deep pockets of darkness. This can make your subject look flat instead of three-dimensional.
It’s also important to remember that clouds are always moving, so you never have to worry about reflections in the background of your image (unless they’re part of the shot).
The general lack of directional light is why many fear cloudy days. You just have to know how to work with it. Depending on the intensity of the overcast, you may have enough light to bounce onto your subject, but you should rely more on negative fill.
Do colors appear muted on a cloudy day?
A traditional answer will tell you that the colors are muted and not as vibrant. Instead of fearing the lack of directional light, I look forward to having this soft beautiful light and actually seek it.
When working with an overcast sky, the colors in your photo can actually look more vibrant than they would if there was direct sunlight hitting them.
For example, when you look at a bright white shirt on a person standing in direct sunlight, it looks like it’s glowing and almost glowing white. But if you were to take that same person and put them into a cloud covered sky where the clouds were blocking some of that direct light from hitting his/her shirt (and any other objects), then all of those colors become more muted and less glowy.
Cloudy background camera settings
The settings will surely vary depending on the time of day, the severity of the overcast, and of course personal aesthetic preferences. Usually, you can have a bit higher ISO of 400-800. This will most likely be where you stay, but don’t be surprised if it needs to be even higher than this.
When shooting outdoors, you cannot control the light in the same way you would in a studio setting, so be ready to change these settings in surprising weather changes. This is especially true while shooting on a partly cloudy day, where the clouds frequently move in front of and away from the sun.
I personally like to rely more on my aperture for exposure adjustments in a scenario like this, and leave my ISO and shutter speed as static as possible. Find the way that works for you with the equipment you have.
I hope that you have found this article helpful and will consider shooting with a cloudy background next time. You’ll be amazed with the results!
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