How Crappy Weather Can Make For the Best Photography

If you’re a photographer that has ever shot during the Blue Hour, then you’ll understand how the lack of sun but still having little light can really help you to create potentially beautiful photos. There are loads of photographers who purposely don’t shoot during sunny days or the Golden Hour. Some photographers bill it as the softbox effect while others just like to go out and shoot. It works for photographers like Nathan Wirth and many more.

So if you’re feeling down about the weather, then here are reasons why it should motivate you to get out there and shoot.

Even Lighting Exposures

Model: Hugh Brownstone

Model: Hugh Brownstone

One of the best reasons why photographers like shooting during bouts of terrible weather has to do with even lighting. Put it this way and consider the following:

  • When the sun is out, you’ll find that there are areas of really bright sun and light. You’ll also find areas with lots of deep blacks and contrast.
  • When the sun is down or behind a lot of clouds, you’ll really understand that there is nothing that can work better because of the natural light diffusion.

Clouds help to even out the lighting all across the earth and give you the natural softbox effect. This in turn makes exposures easier.

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (10 of 19)

Landscape photographers will really value this because it makes them need to carry less gear as a result. There is no need for a graduated ND filter for example. If the sun were high and bright in the sky, then they’d need this filter to equalize the exposure and make it simpler to work with. But in the case of crappy weather, that immediately gets removed.


This also lends itself to helping portrait photographers out a lot because it means that there are less harsh shadows in areas where you’d otherwise not want them.

Naturally Soft Lighting

Chris Gampat the Phoblographer Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 first impressions photos (11 of 19)

You already know about the values of naturally soft lighting for a landscape photographer, but you should also know that there are a number of photographers who prefer it. But what is soft lighting to begin with? To clearly define it, it means that there are very little or no shadows being projected. The lesser the shadows, the softer the light generally is.

Soft lighting usually comes from a larger light source being diffused and in this case the sun is being diffused by the clouds.

Chris Gampat The PhoblographerZeiss 85mm f1.8 Batis first impressions image samples (1 of 6)ISO 4001-1600 sec at f - 1.8


Portrait photographers value the soft lighting so much because it gives them a greater variety with what they can do when they create images. Additionally, it also means that they can be more versatile in natural environments if they wanted to incorporate flash into their work at all


Lack of Contrast

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

So what does a lack of contrast in a scene do for your images? It can help you to create more visually pleasing portraits right out of the camera. This is great for those of you who shoot film or still like to work with minimal editing in Lightroom. The lack of contrast lends itself not only well to skin tones but also to way that colors in nature work naturally.

Most of all though, it helps you create better images during the editing process. More on this later.

The Sky Can Create Really Cool Effects

Pinhole image

If you’re a portrait photographer that uses flash, you should know about how high speed sync or a fast flash duration can help you to create very dramatic looks in the sky. Pinhole and black and white photographers will really like what the sky can do for them and their images because of the fact that there is texture vs being empty.

Chris Gampat Bec Fordyce january 2015 portraits others (1 of 1)ISO 4001-250 sec at f - 2.5

The same thing applies to portraiture. When the sky has clouds and all sorts of crazy things going on, the effect can be really visually interesting.

Enabling More Editing Options

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss 35mm f2 Loxia review photos (14 of 20)ISO 4001-15 sec at f - 4.0

Lastly, crappy weather gives you less contrast which then gives you a flatter color profile to work with overall. This expands the dynamic range and increases what’s possible with the colors in a scene. You’d be amazed at what you can do with the editing especially when you really tweak the color channels.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.