5 TIPS FOR SHOOTING ON A CLOUDY DAY

If you live in the northern hemisphere then you still have plenty of winter days ahead. Even in the spring, the sky is not always clear and sunny. Personally, I love shooting during overcast days. It lessens half of my worries and, although experimenting with sunlight is fun, cloudy means easy…ier. Easier!

Today I’m sharing with you 5 tips for shooting on a cloudy day. Let’s begin!

In this photo the light is coming from above, thus enhancing the facial features of the model and his high cheekbones. Model: Ruud van Buren (Touche modelling agency Amsterdam)

In this photo the light is coming from above, thus enhancing the facial features of the model and his high cheekbones. Model: Ruud van Buren (Touche modelling agency Amsterdam)

1. CLOUDY MEANS SOFT LIGHT

Look at it this way: if the Sun is our primary light source and you put a layer of clouds in between the Sun and the Earth – you get a giant natural diffuser. FOR FREE.

That means the light will be soft and perfect for portrait work. You don’t have to worry about ugly harsh shadows on your model’s face because there are none! The light is soft and compliments the model’s face.

2. LOW CONTRAST

Because the light is really soft on overcast days, this will result in a duller, flatter image with less contrast. There is not a huge difference between the shadow and light areas which is a good thing for capturing more details in the shadows. However, if you prefer more contrast in your photos, you can use post-processing software like Photoshop or Lightroom to fix that.

Ema and I went to shoot in the woods. We found a spot without any trees on either side and this allowed us to have her evenly lit in the centre.  Model: Ema Jankovič (dancer and choreographer)

Ema and I went to shoot in the woods. We found a spot without any trees on either side and this allowed us to have her evenly lit in the centre.  Model: Ema Jankovič (dancer and choreographer)

3. LIGHT FROM ABOVE

Any light has it’s source and directon (the angle from which it falls on the model’s face). In the case of cloudy days – the light being diffursed by the clouds – the light is falling down on an angle from above.

That means you will have to ask your models to move their heads in order to see what pose works best. Generally, it’s best if the model’s head is tilted slightly upwards, thus eliminating the dark areas around the eyes.

Using reflector is helpful in these sort of situations, as they can bounce the light in the model’s face, adding nice catchlights in the eyes to make them more prominent.

The best thing about photographing on a cloudy day is that you don't have to worry about ugly shadows. The clouds act like a giant diffuser! Tip: ask your model to tilt her/his head slightly upwards, toward the light source. Model: Michelle (Tijara model management)

The best thing about photographing on a cloudy day is that you don't have to worry about ugly shadows. The clouds act like a giant diffuser! Tip: ask your model to tilt her/his head slightly upwards, toward the light source. Model: Michelle (Tijara model management)

4. BLOWN-OUT HIGHLIGHTS

You pressed the shutter button and – BAM! – the sky turned white. No, it’s not magic, it’s one thing that happens a lot when shooting during cloudy days – blown-out highlights. The sky on the photo loses its colour and no details are visible.

If you’re shooting in RAW (and you SHOULD), you can partially solve this problem by underexposing the image and bringing back the details in the shadows in post (Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom).

The other method you can use is HDR. That way you take three photos, one of which is properly exposed, one is underexposed and the last one is overexposed. This technique will definitely allow you to maintain more details in the final image, but the use of a tripod is recommended!

Two other ways:
– Using graduated ND filters (external link)
– Using fill light or flash

Look at this Youtube video to get an understanding of how Gavin Hoey used external lights to add a bit of drama to the image, as well as the settings he used to create a well-balanced scene!

5. SEE THE WORLD IN COLOUR

Okay, how does a yellow field of flowers look like in sunlight? You can barely look at it, right? It’s so bright and not a pleasant view. And it shines like a disco ball on photos!

But, on cloudy days, the story changes. All those beautiful bright colours like red, yellow and orange stand out among the grayish dismal landscape. Flowery fields become magical places to shoot at, the red roofs are a much-needed pop of colour and there is nothing better than having a colourful bold style on your model.

girl in a field of yellow flowers

Now, THAT will make an impression!

SO, LET’S GO OVER THIS AGAIN:

– Cloudy days are great for portraiture
– Shoot colourful subjects/objects because they stand out from the rest of the landscape
– Beware of blown-out highlights and the sky turning white

A dull gray day outside? Perfect – it’s time to put these tips in action!
Don’t forget to share your results with me and let me know how your shoot went!

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selfportrait with mirror

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi! My name is Isabella and I’m a lazy workaholic. That means I'm a:
- fine art/portrait photographer
- illustrator (check out my comics here!)
- digital photography blogger - jewelry creator
- graphic designer

I love spending my time creatively, but when I’m in the mood to chill I enjoy watching movies, drinking tea and hanging out with friends!
Find me on Instagram and say hello!


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This Month's Goal: Trying out Ballet Beautiful

Hi everyone!

Maybe you are wondering: why should I care about barre workouts if I came on this blog to search for photography tips?

Well, there is a pretty serous why you should care - and it's for your own good.

I have creative friends and colleagues and all of us, regardless of what we do, have one thing in common: we spend way too much time sitting (in front of the computer) and not nearly enough time being active and doing sports.

Of course, that doesn't sound like a huge deal when you're twenty. But later on, a scenario similar to mine happened to many of my friends: back pain, neck pain, the computer wrist syndrome. It sucks being less than a quarter of a century old (now that sounds ancient!) and having all these health problems just because of our lifestyle.

girl and the sea


When I was on my third year of college, I first started having lower back pain. It continued on and on until I really started to wonder what was going on. Being skinny all my life, I kind of thought that I will get away with not working out, but it was far away from the truth.

Luckily, my boyfriend had experience in sports and advised me to start stretching. I was reluctant at first, thinking it's just a waste of time and won't solve anything. The truth is - damn, if only I had started earlier!

Slowly, motivating myself every time to do better and more, I kept my stretching routine for about three years before I started working out. If I had started both at the same time, I know for certain I would have failed and given up, because it would have been too much for me, both physically and mentally.
 

legs and curtains

And here's where Ballet Beautiful comes into play!

I loved the movie Black Swan a lot and, Googling, came to know about Mary Hellen Bowers, the founder of Ballet Beautiful. She offers custom workouts, streaming videos, DVDs and a book as well. I found the book in the library and though it was interesting enough.

This month I decided to give Ballet Beautiful's streaming videos a try and to keep you posted about my progress and the overall feel about it. I want to see how my body's response to classes will be like and how it will make me feel.

It's so important to keep our bodies active and get up from time to time instead of being glued to the screen!

As I'm typing this, I'm rocking back and forth on my yoga ball because the thing I'm going to do next is - have a nice stretch.

Talk to you next week, friends!

A Sahara in the Netherlands

Do you know that there is a Sahara in the Netherlands? Well, I didn't know either!
Not until I took part of a youth exchange, ReMOVEit, in the little town of Ommen. It looked like a cluster of gingerbread houses and the Christmas decor, although it was already February, was still on full display in the streets.
The exchange was all about body movement and, along with 60 other youngsters from all over Europe, we danced, jumped, moved to the rhythm of kizomba (I failed), tried acro yoga (I rocked), stretched, ran, did improv theater and a lot of other fun things.
Was it intense? Sure so.

But when I think about some funny moments they make me laugh out loud - still! 

in the sahara ommen
snow in ommen
snow in ommen
walking in a blanket
beautiful portrait of a girl
guy with glasses smoking
man portrait through the window
man in blanket on snow

Nisa & David: engagement session

In August I shot my friend Nisa and David's engagement session, followed by their wedding. I've known them for years and I knew Nisa will plan everything to the tiniest details.
 
We set off for the tall, dark woods in Gorski kotar (Croatia) where the shoot was going to take place. The bridesmaid and groom were also with us, as well as a jumping hyperactive ball of fur known as Moony, who somewhat stole the spotlight haha. Even though we were afraid it might rain, the weather forecast was completely wrong: the sky cleared and  the sun peeked through the branches.

We brought all the customized wedding props with us and I shot them in the woods as well. The shoot ended up with portraits during the golden hour on Trsatska gradina, where the wedding would take place a week later. 

They wanted something unique. We created a fairytale in the woods together.
fine art wedding photography engagement session nisa and david 13.jpg
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session 10
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session
nisa and david fine art wedding photography engagement session

Personal journal

Hi everyone!

It's such a joy to have a freshly redesigned website. Still true to a minimal approach, but more colourful and, hopefully, better than the last one!

For tutorials and interviews with inspiring creatives there's my other blog, Mirrored Mag. If you're a creative person (or want to become one), hop over to Mirrored and stay tuned! :)

The blog on this page, however, will be more of a personal journal. I have so many photographs and stories that I want to share and I hope you will find them entertaining!

Sunflowers