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Working with overcast light


From:

Up and Running with Lighting: Natural Light

with Erin Manning

Video: Working with overcast light

You might think that a gray, overcast day would be a good reason to cancel a photoshoot, but an overcast sky can result in great photos. Instead of a direct light source coming from a single spot in the sky, the clouds on an overcast day create a huge soft box in the sky. Resulting in even, diffused light falling on your subjects, and less contrast in your images. Depending on the time of day you're shooting, the gray day cloud cover may result in portrait images that still need a little pop of light to brighten up the eyes and eliminate any unwanted shadows on the face. My photos of Josh were looking a little dark and blah until I handed him a Reflector to bounce a little light back into the the darker areas. Now his eyes have a catch light and the light on his face have a bright and even. I'll be covering reflectors in more detail later in the course but I wanted to share this little secret for brightening up faces on an overcast day. If you don't have an assistant or reflector stand handy, it's okay to have your subject hold the reflector near their face, angling it slightly. The reflective surface bounces ambient light into the shadows and creases on the face and brightens up the eyes.
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Watch the Online Video Course Up and Running with Lighting: Natural Light
41m 2s Beginner Jun 12, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, photographer and educator Erin Manning shows beginning photographers how to appreciate and work with natural light. First Erin takes a look at the qualities of light, from softness to direction to color, and details the camera settings that help you get the most out of the scene's available light. Then Erin works together with a student to shoot a natural-light portrait, employing inexpensive accessories such as reflectors along the way.

Topics include:
  • Learning to identify the quality of light
  • Avoiding color casts
  • Setting exposure, white balance, and ISO
  • Finding good natural light
  • Reflecting and diffusing light
  • Understanding lighting ratios
Subject:
Photography
Author:
Erin Manning

Working with overcast light

You might think that a gray, overcast day would be a good reason to cancel a photoshoot, but an overcast sky can result in great photos. Instead of a direct light source coming from a single spot in the sky, the clouds on an overcast day create a huge soft box in the sky. Resulting in even, diffused light falling on your subjects, and less contrast in your images. Depending on the time of day you're shooting, the gray day cloud cover may result in portrait images that still need a little pop of light to brighten up the eyes and eliminate any unwanted shadows on the face. My photos of Josh were looking a little dark and blah until I handed him a Reflector to bounce a little light back into the the darker areas. Now his eyes have a catch light and the light on his face have a bright and even. I'll be covering reflectors in more detail later in the course but I wanted to share this little secret for brightening up faces on an overcast day. If you don't have an assistant or reflector stand handy, it's okay to have your subject hold the reflector near their face, angling it slightly. The reflective surface bounces ambient light into the shadows and creases on the face and brightens up the eyes.

And gray days don't always last. Sometimes a bit of sun shines through the clouds resulting in more defined shadows on your subject's face. That's what happened during our photo shoot on a cloudy day. The sun was peering through the clouds, and the reflector helped bounce the light and the shadow on Josh's face. Professional reflectors are available in white, gold and silver. And it's good to experience to see what works best in your scene. I found that silver or white reflector works best on overcast days. And sometimes a soft silver gold combination reflector Produces a bounce light with just enough warmth.

Overcast skies also allow you to capture more saturated images during the middle of the day. If you're lucky enough to have some weather roll in, this can be a great time to take advantage of different moods weather can evoke in a photograph.

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