"Cloudy Days Suck"…or do they?



Many photographers claim that you can’t get great photos on cloudy days. Well, it depends… (I love to use that). Many images on cloudy days, out of the camera, can be a bit flat, for example landscapes. Those are often “macro days” when colors look more saturated, so your flower photos can look better on days like that. However, on a spring day in Colorado, when the snow is melting on the high mountains, nothing is really blooming in the high country yet, what’s a frustrated photographer to do?
Image one shows a very flat, SOOC (Straight out of camera) series of images stitched into a panorama. No, I didn’t use a pan head on a tripod either. This is hand held. Just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean you can’t shoot panoramas. That’s a subject for a whole ‘nother discussion. I also used the clone stamp to get rid of some things in the foreground that were distracting, to me at least. But I’ll never tell.

Image #2 shows some improvements after running it through Photoshop/Nik Software Complete Collection plug ins, which I highly recommend. Nik software has instructional videos on their web page, daily webinars, for FREE! This stuff is easy to use, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to take advantage of it. This particular image shows the results of using Viveza to even out some differences in tonalities due to the differences in exposure post stitching, then Pro Contrast to remove some color casting. Tonal Contrast lets you selectively adjust midtones, highlights and shadows, both globally and locally with control points. If you don’t know what control points are, go to http://www.niksoftware.com and find out for yourself just how powerful and easy they are to use. I then applied White Neutralizer (these are all in Color Efex Pro) to do just that, make the whites, white. Not bad, but it’s still missing something.

The sky is sort of… too white, too flat, not a lot of contrast. Apply Graduated Neutral Density Filter, which I could and should have done with a filter on the end of my lens. But I didn’t. Software to the rescue. This is also found in Color Efex Pro.

As my favorite TV chef says… BAM! Dramatic sky. Bluer blues, clouds are distinct and full of contrast, and as you see, there was a lot of cloud cover that day.

The last image shows another common way to overcome cloudy days. Make it a black and white. These are perfect days to shoot specifically with black and white in mind. Or not, as you can see from the previous shots.

So, a rather gloomy day turned into not only a good day photographically, but I had fun getting to know my shooting companion better, and I got to hang out with good friends who are also photographers. Day salvaged, on many levels. Now get out there and shoot!

Doug

3 thoughts on “"Cloudy Days Suck"…or do they?

  1. I know the guy that has a list of glass and camera bodies long enough to make a NG photog drool isn't talking about shooting on a budget, LOL…

    Mike

  2. Thanks Doug, I don't know how to take photographs, but I liked the PS tips (as I'm new to using any effects).

    I'm testing out some variations on pictures my wife Kathi took with the kids and some awesome backgrounds. The kids looked great, but the background lost the effect because it was overcast.

    -Jaime Buckley

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