Bad Light? Not for Portraits…

October 15th, 2010 by Rob Knight

Our model, Rachael, under overcast skies at the DPE Learning Weekend in Atlanta, GA

Overcast skies may be bad for landscape photography, but they are great for shooting portraits. When shooting under cloudy skies you’ve got a giant overhead softbox to work with. This creates soft light that wraps around your subject and makes it easy to capture a proper exposure without blown highlights or harsh shadows. This soft light is also a great base for adding off-camera flash.

A few tips for success on an overcast day:

•Set your white balance to ‘Cloudy’ to add a little warmth to your colors

•Don’t include the sky in your photos. Unless the clouds are very dramatic, an overcast sky doesn’t make a good background.

•Use off-camera flash (speedlights or strobes) to create more interesting or dramatic lighting. Use the ambient light as your fill and build the main light with your off-camera flash.

•You may need to bump up the contrast (I like to use a curves adjustment) in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Learn more about Rob, view his images and check out his workshops at his website.

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