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Photographs in Poor Light
February 11, 2016

Getting Good Photographs in Poor Light

Landscaping photography enthusiasts work mostly in natural light, which presents several problems – to begin with, the most beautiful lighting conditions each day last for a maximum of a few hours. In other cases, sunsets will probably be lost behind cloudy skies, making it impossible to determine a landscape at its best. When the sky’s gray or even the sun is directly overhead, it can be tough to find inspiration for high-quality photography. My hope with this particular article is to share some suggestions which have worked for me when I photograph in bad lighting conditions – a thing that every photographer experiences at some point.

Photographs in Poor Light
1) Seek out Colors

The good thing about the light at setting sun and sun rising is it sculpts the panorama with saturated hues – quite simply, the lighting offers the scene with color. When skies are cloudy, though, organic lighting doesn’t offer the hues necessary for a richly-colored photograph. Instead, to create a colorful image, you have to search for a vivid subject.

With an overcast sky, your light will soft and mild. Take this opportunity to consider muted colors that will not be visible within the over crammed light of sunset – perhaps.

These colors may be too subtle to look at sunset or sunrise, but a cloudy day allows them to shine. Following a blue-sky, too, you’ll be able to take beautiful pictures of deeply-saturated colors. Despite the dreariest of skies, a rainforest will always look vivid and green – a wonderful formula for any landscape photographer. Make sure to take the polarizing filter!

2) Isolate Information

Although a grand panorama may appear its best at sunrise, some detail-oriented photographs work equally well in cloudy conditions. Partly, this is because overcast skies are so lusterless – photos rarely take advantage of using a featureless blob across the top. Although some cloudy skies still have texture within the clouds, it is very important ask yourself if they’re helping your composition. If the skies is actually not interesting, it won’t add interest to your photo. On the cloudy day, my telephoto lens is almost always glued to my camera. This brings the additional possibility of wildlife photography, too – another subject which can look beautiful under overcast lighting. Although I am inclined to stay with panorama photography once the sky’s gray, I am careful to look out for other details to isolate as well.

3) Concentrate Closer

Another type of detail to keep in mind for gray days is the realm of macro photography.
Cloudy skies provide soft shadows, rendering it easy to begin to see the true colors and tones of the close-up subject. Some macro photographers prefer to use a flash, obviously, but clouds can lead to wonderful light as well. The colors of macro moments are naturally more condensed than faraway scenes, since there is little atmospheric haze involving the lens as well as your subject. Utilize this fact by trying to find vivid objects to photograph – the macro world is stuffed with color.

Often, following a rainstorm, you will be able to find drops water to photograph too. The geometric patterns water droplets could be beautiful, and they are ideal subjects under overcast lighting.

4) Long Exposures

With an overcast sky, an important concern is that the photos will lose a feeling of uniqueness. This problem is easy to repair, though – make use of a neutral-density filter.

As explained in our landscape photography filter guide, a neutral density filter is really a darkened plate of glass that permits you to make use of a long (multi-second) shutter speed, even during the day.
Of course, such a filter doesn’t assist in every scene; for a lot of, in fact, it’s almost no effect. However when you have anything shifting – clouds, water, people – an extended publicity can provide an out-of-the-ordinary image regardless of the light.

Extended exposures also tend to emphasize colors which are difficult to see with the naked eye. If you set your camera to consider pre-dawn long exposures, even with an overcast day, you could be amazed by the degree of color inside your photos.

5) Become Black and White

When the color inside a scene is drab, I usually take it off. I don’t mean to understate the significance of black and white photography – I usually see it more efficient and poetic than color photography – but many of my favorite monochromatic images would look bland colored.

With a cloudy sky, high-contrast black and white photos can easily still express a sense of drama and elegance that you will find impossible with the dull colors from overcast lighting. In part, it is because monochrome photography is inherently surreal.

Perhaps this is why high-contrast grayscale digital photography remains very popular in the fine-art world. Such photos are simple by nature, yet they may be just like eye-catching as color images.

6) Mid-Day Light

So far, all of these techniques have been recommendations for taking snapshots of on cloudy days. However, a landscape professional photographer also fears the entire opposite: the tough sunlight of mid-day.

Such lighting is less gloomy being an overcast sky, however it could be just like frustrating. On one hand, it might be hard to avoid harsh shadows and bright highlights, possibly making your photo as a contrast mess. Conversely, mid-day lights are not specifically unique – few people will probably be awed by way of a landscape in the most typical state.

Personally, my first instinct with mid-day lighting is to consider shadows that may lead to an interesting composition.

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