Dealing with dull skies

tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
edited March 2016 in General Discussions
Not great lighting conditions? If you are out on a dreary, cloudy day do you still shoot knowing the pictures just aren't going to be great? What do you do with them if you do shoot?

Making them black and white seems to negate this, but is there something else you can do?

Examples from Chicago a little while back:
DSC_0139

DSC_0132

Thoughts?
Post edited by spraynpray on
D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
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Comments

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,481Moderator
    If it is a grey featureless sky, I would not be shooting landscapes, I would be shooting things where the shot does not include the sky so the effect is of a great big softbox, not a bland sky.
    Always learning.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    I was just typing something similar. Shoot people and things, they look great under an overcast sky, due to the even lighting.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    A cloudy sky is a photographer's dream. It is a great softbox.
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    Hmm...I guess it is the landscape thing then, or do I need to adjust my white balance? It also isn't a great time of year with no plants or anything. I agree about the even lighting, but the outcome for me is bland/muted photos. The photos have nothing to them I guess is what I mean.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    I would use auto white balance. Most of the time that is perfect. I carry around a grey card and use it in most scenes. Most of the time auto wb is spot on or close. Indoors, however, is a different story.
  • ggbutcherggbutcher Posts: 368Member
    Ha, I went out and shot in just these conditions today. Agree with others on the choice of subject; I need composition and color to take the place of highlight and shadow.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    tcole1983, what do you do in post? Do you use Lightroom?
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,481Moderator
    As far as auto Vs other WB settings go, I only ever use any setting other than auto when I am shooting weddings or events that require consistency for batch processing or processing using actions. Individual shots I edit individually so the WB likely gets tweaked a touch anyway.
    Always learning.
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    I always just shoot auto and change it in post if needed. I just use lightroom for edits.

    Here is one I shot the same time with no sky...different subject.

    DSC_0145
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,181Member
    edited March 2016
    @tcole.. I am not certain what you are trying to ask in the OP...

    PS: oh i read your second post .. nvm

    PPS : I get it now .. you want to know what to do with images that would be nice compositionally but for the bland sky and lighting... and what to shoot in those conditions...
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    edited March 2016

    @tcole.. I am not certain what you are trying to ask in the OP...

    PS: oh i read your second post .. nvm

    PPS : I get it now .. you want to know what to do with images that would be nice compositionally but for the bland sky and lighting... and what to shoot in those conditions...


    Yeah. To me on the cloudy and dreary days I never get that good of a look from them. Subject matter great or not the lighting just doesn't do it for me. I usually have good luck in early morning or late afternoon when the sun isn't high in the sky on sunny days, but I never really get good shots when the lighting is just a cloudy day which lends even lighting, but it doesn't make anything pop and overall mutes the pictures to me. Especially this time of year when the trees are bare and there isn't any green foliage or anything.

    I have had success with bare trees before and no green, but lighting was good.
    Post edited by tcole1983 on
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    You also need to be watching the resolution when comparing ISO. It is easy to get rid of noise if you have no qualms about sacrificing resolution. That is just a tradeoff that one (Nikon engineer when designing in camera software or photographer in post) can decide on.

    This makes it very difficult to know what is actually going on. Apparent results may be better than actual results.

    So in addition to losing colour, noise causes a loss in resolution. I try and avoid shooting at high ISO whenever possible.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,481Moderator
    edited March 2016
    Here's an idea for those bland sky days - read NR! ;)
    Post edited by spraynpray on
    Always learning.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    tcole1983 said:

    Not great lighting conditions? If you are out on a dreary, cloudy day do you still shoot knowing the pictures just aren't going to be great? What do you do with them if you do shoot?

    Making them black and white seems to negate this, but is there something else you can do?

    Examples from Chicago a little while back:
    DSC_0139

    DSC_0132

    Thoughts?

    I have been thinking about this. I think that you can get great shots on a dreary day.

    Here is one:

    Siwash Rock, Vancouver, 2015
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    And at times, if you are patient, the sun pokes through the clouds on dreary days and you can get something like this:

    Third Beach, Vancouver, 2015
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    This was taken on a very dreary day:

    Lion's Gate Bridge, Vancouver, 2015
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    Maybe if the day is dreary, there are opportunities during dreary nights:

    All Roads Lead to Hadrian
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    Or find a composition where the sky does not really matter - or at least where its dreariness does not overly impose its mood on the compostion:

    Alcázar of Seville, Seville, 2015
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,415Member
    Some ideas to try:
    1. Avoid the sky in the photo if you don't have dramatic clouds.
    2. If there are some clouds in the sky see if you can set your exposure to avoid washing out those clouds.
    3. Try setting white balance to cloudy or shade to get your colors to "pop" more.
    4. Look for lonely, depressing or morose subjects and use the depressing lighting add to the depressing mood of the image.
    While many people think those drab overcast clouds do not make for good photography the Dutch and English landscape painters often had to work with such a cloudy overcast gray sky. Study their work.

    www.google.com/search?q=images+of+the+paintings+of+hobbema&rlz=1C1GGGE_enUS627US629&espv=2&biw=1276&bih=592&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjr24mn1r7LAhXF5yYKHaicDiIQsAQIGw

    www.google.com/search?q=images+of+the+paintings+of+hobbema&rlz=1C1GGGE_enUS627US629&espv=2&biw=1276&bih=592&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=

    www.google.com/search?q=English+landscape+painters&rlz=1C1GGGE_enUS627US629&espv=2&biw=1276&bih=592&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiGotLn1r7LAhUDbSYKHd-JAB8QsAQILQ#imgrc=_

    This was a dull boring day. Look what Claude Monet did with it. Take the photo and add color in post processing. http://www.claudemonetgallery.org/Impression--Sunrise.html

    Another dull day but enough texture captured in the clouds and snow to make it interesting. http://www.claudemonetgallery.org/A-Cart-On-The-Snow-Covered-Road-With-Saint-Simeon-Farm.html Take the photo, get the exposure right and increase the saturation in post processing to add some color.

    Bad sky here. Might as well pack up and go home? http://www.claudemonetgallery.org/Windmills-In-Holland.html Or take the shot and add color in post processing?

    Nothing of interest in this sky so Claude greatly minimized the sky by the composition he chose. http://www.claudemonetgallery.org/The-Road-To-Chailly.html

    Bland sky offset by warm colors in it and composition of interesting objects also painted in warm tones. http://www.claudemonetgallery.org/Windmill-At-Zaandam.html

    Nothing of interest here is there? Except color and texture. http://www.claudemonetgallery.org/Houses-In-The-Snow--Norway.html
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,675Member
    Donaldjose, this is brilliant. I love Monet but have always focussed on his garden scenes. There is so much inspiration for photographers in the works of the great painters.
  • tcole1983tcole1983 Posts: 981Member
    Thanks for the examples and input @WestEndFoto and @donaldejose I will have to go back in and mess with some of the shots I have.
    D5200, D5000, S31, 18-55 VR, 17-55 F2.8, 35 F1.8G, 105 F2.8 VR, 300 F4 AF-S (Previously owned 18-200 VRI, Tokina 12-24 F4 II)
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,415Member
    I have noticed something on my D750 histogram in the studio. When I use a black, white and medium gray triangle to set my exposure correctly by putting the medium gray peak in the center I find neither the black nor the white peak run off the edges of the histogram. There is still room on the horizontal axis beyond black and beyond white. I interpret this as indicating that the dynamic range between black and white in a studio fits entirely within the dynamic range of the sensor. It seems to me that for most normal scenes we now have sufficient dynamic range. Add to that the fact that we can increase dynamic range about two stops by pulling more detail out of the shadows and also that we can automatically have the camera produce an HDR image in camera and I think we may well now be able to handle a day with overcast clouds by shooting RAW, exposing for the sky to preserve some interest in the clouds and then lighten the dark parts of the photo in post processing. Painters can adjust dynamic range as much as they can see. We are able to photographically portray much more dynamic range today than we could a decade ago. I have not tried this but will some day.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,181Member
    edited March 2016
    Well I was on a dreary shoot once .. and got a bit frustrated .. so I went totally wild with the PP :-) I guess you can go "conceptual" with the images .. yes that sunset was not there ... though the sun was sort in that place ... models don't like me :-(

    image
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,481Moderator
    I checked out your first link Donald, they aren't what I call dreary skies. They are pretty dramatic skies actually. Dreary is when they are featureless grey horizon to horizon.
    Always learning.
  • donaldejosedonaldejose Posts: 3,415Member
    Ok, featureless grey horizon to horizon. Minimize the sky. This is my seventh link above http://www.claudemonetgallery.org/The-Road-To-Chailly.html
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