Why Shooting on Overcast Days Is the Best

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While everyone wants to go out and shoot when the weather is bright and sunny, it won’t always give you the greatest exposures. For starters, bright sunny days give you lots of contrast–which you can like creatively, but it won’t give you the most versatility later on when you go to edit your images. Additionally, getting the right direction for the light can be tough too since you’re at the mercy of the sun.

Instead, the best time to go out shooting is during an overcast day. Want that classic shadowless look to your images? Or maybe a lot more versatility in your landscape image in a single shot?

Your best bet is to go shooting when it’s overcast. If you’re a beginner, then here’s why you should forget about going to shoot in the sunshine.

Soft Light

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phottix Indra500TTL Images portraits with Amanda (5 of 11)ISO 1001-2000 sec at f - 1.4

The best thing about overcast days is that it gives you very soft light overall in a scene. Why is that?

Consider the following:

– The Sun is a very large light source. Imagine that as a flash.

– When a flash is directly hitting a subject, then it creates harsh shadows.

– To soften the flash or light, you need to make it larger in relation to the subject. To do this, you bounce it or you diffuse it.

– When a cloud moves over the sun, the shadows go away and the light becomes softer.

Soft light has to do with the shadows and how dark or light they are. In a case like this, you’ll mostly achieve shadowless lighting.

Generally, photographers will tell you to go for soft light because of how beautiful it is and how it makes images look. But if you know how to use hard light creatively, then go for that. But when you’re first starting out, soft light is the easiest to work with.

Consistent Exposures

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When the sun is out, you tend to get lots of shadows in a scene. Landscape photographers will tell you that in a situation like this, you need to get a graduated ND filter (here’s how to use that.) The reason for this is because of the fact that it lowers the contrast and makes the exposure more even.

If you’re shooting a landscape during an overcast day, then you completely eliminate this problem of having to meter for the highlights, then the shadows and then finding a middle ground. Instead, you can simply just focus on composition and positioning for your scenes.

Best Dynamic Range For Post-Production

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony A7s review images extras (10 of 19)ISO 64001-320 sec at f - 8.0

If you’re a landscape shooter, then you’ll try to create an image that has the most dynamic range that you can possibly get. Though the idea of an HDR (high dynamic range) image is mostly null these days, a single photo can still give you more than enough details in the highlights and shadows in the right situation.

During an overcast day, you can get the flattest color profile and the least contrast. When you have that, you can push your files more or pull more details from them.