Preparing for winter...

mad_malteaser

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People on this forum living in England will understand me when I say how much I struggle with the sky in my photographs. I'm unlucky enough to live in a country where the sky is largely overcast most of the year and even unluckier in that all the days the sky has been beautiful I've been at work and unable to get out with my camera.

So how do you all cope with overcast skies in your shots? I'm still using a compact digital (Fuji S5000) which struggles with the skies more than I do and have just started getting to grips with my film SLR (Minolta 7000) so any tips would be greatly appreciated for either medium. :confused:
 

Torus34

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We humans are a contrary lot, aren't we? I dream of nice foggy days so I can get some of those beautiful soft, misty landscapes just chock full of atmospheric perspective.

The simple answer to your question is to go after compositions where the sky is but a minor aspect if it appears at all. Overcast skies also mean lower contrast, so there's little chance of burning out highlights and lots of opportunities to make full use of shadow detail. Think in subtilities of color rather than seeking for the 'Gee Whiz!' type of print.
 

Soocom1

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Actually, I look for clouds in the sky. I can get many a good shot from clouds, I think it is all how you look at it.

Here are a few examples of what I mean.

I posted this before, but look for this type of thing:

MorningCreation.jpg

Morning Creation


An office building:


PICT0010.jpg

View from the Slave Pit



Variations in the cloud styles:

CloudSmokeRising.jpg

Smoke Cloud Rising from Grand Queviera



Look for 'portals' in the sky, or just basically sun burst through the clouds:

PICT0030.jpg

Drive to work.



Or as Torus said, use the clouds to enunciate the subject:

PICT0022-1.jpg

Mesa Redonda in morning
 
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Iron Flatline

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Torus34 said:
We humans are a contrary lot, aren't we? I dream of nice foggy days so I can get some of those beautiful soft, misty landscapes just chock full of atmospheric perspective.
LOL, ain't it the truth. I live in Los Angeles, and I am SO TIRED OF THE SUN. Every building I want to shoot has harsh shadows, people squint, and I can't get an interesting cloud (or sunset) except for 10-15 days out of the year.

Life is brutally unfair, I tell ya'!
 

DepthAfield

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I much prefer an overcast day for most of my photo outings… Having natures own giant softbox overhead makes things easier.;)
 

Torus34

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Soocom1: You've again proved that a picture is worth a thousand words.

DepthAfield: "Nature's own giant softbox" Very nice wordsmithing! I get
so busy reading for content that I forget the pleasure of reading for style. Thank you for the reminder.
 

rmh159

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LOL so true. I lived in South Florida for the past 4 years and after about 3 of them I started to feel like gnawing my arm off everytime I'd see a pic of a palm tree. Even if you live in absolute paradise... the same scenary grows stale after awhile which is probably my love for traveling has equally grown with my love for photography. :D

Back to the actual topic of the thread though. During winter would a ND filter help pull out sky details? I'm not sure if it's a case where an overcast sky is just difficult period or if there's some way to pull out contrast.

Iron Flatline said:
LOL, ain't it the truth. I live in Los Angeles, and I am SO TIRED OF THE SUN. Every building I want to shoot has harsh shadows, people squint, and I can't get an interesting cloud (or sunset) except for 10-15 days out of the year.

Life is brutally unfair, I tell ya'!
 
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Iron Flatline

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It depends on how you're shooting. If you can use a tri-pod you'll want to shoot several exposures, and then combine them. Also check out graduated filters. I know NOTHING about them, but have been reading up on ND filters lately in regards to a different project, and they have struck me as an interesting solution to the problem you're addressing. In essence half the filter is darker, so that you would want to align your shot roughly with the area that is brighter or needs more filtering. Not sure if they sit in a rotating sleeve like a circular polarizer does.
 
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mad_malteaser

mad_malteaser

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Soocom1: Your photographs are fantastic. Unfortunately we don't even get clouds like that much over here, just a horrible grey haze. I bet you could do wonders with even that though, going by your examples!

rmh159 said:
Back to the actual topic of the thread though. During winter would a ND filter help pull out sky details? I'm not sure if it's a case where an overcast sky is just difficult period or if there's some way to pull out contrast.

That's exactly what I'm talking about. Looks like I need to start reading up on filters....
 

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