by Alex Wrigley
The majority of outdoor photographers spend their time praying for perfect photography conditions, whether that be a gorgeous sunset or an ethereal misty morning.
But we don’t control the weather and sometimes we just have that urge to get out there and shoot, even when the forecast is for cloudy and overcast conditions.
All hope is not lost though, and we’re here to help with a few quickfire photography tips for cloudy days.
Colour photography is dominated by bold and vivid Golden Hour shots and that can often make images captured in cloudy conditions seem underwhelming by comparison.
Level the playing field and shoot in black and white. It allows you to make excellent use of the contrast in the scene and really brings the composition of the shot to the fore.
Don’t know where to start? Check out our 7 tips for black and white landscape photography.
The grey expanse of cloud during overcast days could seem like wasted space to some photographers, but it makes for a perfect blank canvas for those photographers that like to capture minimalistic images.
The lack of definition makes overcast skies ideal as negative space and you can capture some really striking images by making use of this.
Choose a single focal point to your image and then build as simple a scene as possible around it.
Combine this simplification with some of the other tips (high-key and long exposure photography work perfectly for this) and you’re onto a winner.
High-key photography is a style of photography that purposefully reduces the amount of shadows in an image. It’s basically overexposure but in a targeted and well thought-out manner.
Why does it work so well on cloudy days? First, the white and low-contrast sky is already high-key in itself, but this tip is useful whether you’re shooting landscape, street or portrait photography because the clouds basically act as a giant softbox on your scene.
That means soft and even lighting that is perfect for high-key photography, where a low-contrast look is what we’re aiming for.
This combines perfectly with high-key photography and simplifying your images.
Head to a nearby body of water, find an interesting subject to build a composition around and then crack open the ND filters and lengthen that shutter speed.
A simplistic, high-key long exposure images is the perfect answer to cloudy day photography and one I can’t recommend enough.
It doesn’t have to be high-key and simple, though. Waterfalls and rivers also work brilliantly in the soft lighting of an overcast day, so just find some water and you’re onto a winner.
When you remove the drama and eye-catching beauty of epic light or pastel sunrises the elements of the image you have direct control over really increase in their importance.
That means your composition becomes even more crucial and you should place as much emphasis on perfecting it as possible.
Here’s the thing: You don’t need to come away with a spectacular image. Just getting out there to think and practise composition will do your photography the world of good. Then, next time the light is right, you’ll have the skill to build the perfect composition!
The good thing about cloudy days is that you’re not limited to the Golden Hours or the fleeting moments of light.
You can shoot all day long!
Head to the city in the morning, stop for lunch at a waterfall and peruse the coastline in the afternoon if your geography allows.
About Alex Wrigley
Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.