How to Handle Overcast Skies

Give your outdoor photography a big boost with these tips and techniques!

by Linda Eodice

Vespa Victorian in S.F.
Vespa Victorian in S.F.
© Linda Eodice
All Rights Reserved
So often when I travel to locations where I want to shoot scenic views, I happen to arrive when the sky clouds over. Cloudy skies can take away a stop of light, and create cool color balances.

Unfortunately, dull, cloudy days are a fact of life in outdoor photography, but there is a way to get around their negative aspects. First of all, you can use your camera’s Cloudy Day white balance setting to warm up the scene. If the light is very low, you should either use a tripod or a higher ISO setting, such as 400 to 800. On the plus side, cloud covers eliminate all high contrast issues, and they provide a pleasing, wrap-around light. Eliminate the dull, gray skies from your composition and concentrate on the rest of the scene.

I photographed the entry to this Victorian house in San Francisco on a very overcast day. I liked the red Vespa motorbike, as well as the red doorway in this scene. I used Cloudy WB, and composed this image to include primarily the entryway to the house and the red Vespa on the steps. I also liked the balance that the foliage created on either side of the entryway.

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About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Linda Eodice
Photography Instructor: Linda EodiceThe author of Photos That Inspire, Lynne Eodice teaches a number of excellent online classes for BetterPhoto.com (see the current course listing below.) She is also the former Feature Editor for Petersen’s PHOTOgraphic.

A native of Southern California, Lynne was educated at Pasadena City College and Cal Poly Pomona. Her love of photography began after her husband gave her a 35mm SLR as an anniversary gift. She began her career as a feature writer & photographer for local newspapers that included Pasadena Weekly and The Herald Tribune.

Besides having articles and photos published regularly in PHOTOgraphic, she has contributed to Rangefinder, Digital Photographer and California Tour & Travel, as well as PHOTOgraphic’s Buyer’s Guide, Big Book of Photography and Family Photo magazines. Her images have appeared in a popular instructional book called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Photography, and she has marketed her stock photos through Index Stock Imagery in New York.

Lynne has exhibited her fine-art scenic photography at Kolb Studio and the visitor’s center at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California, and at venues throughout the San Gabriel Valley. In addition, she has taught many classes, seminars and workshops.

In the fall of 2007, she was honored as one of the Women Achievers in the San Gabriel Valley in Business Life magazine.

Lynne currently lives with her husband, Dennis and their dog, Chiquita in Altadena, California.