Dealing with grey Skies in Landscape Photography
July 2, 2017 | Landscape Photography | by Michael Breitung
Just recently I returned from one week in northern Spain. I was visiting the Costa Quebrada near Santander and some close-by landscapes. During that week, not once did I get a glowing sunrise or sunset to photograph. Years ago this would have frustrated me. But I have since learned how to take spectacular photos even in the absence of great light.
I have recorded a video where I show three ways on how to create portfolio worthy photos under flat, grey skies. With a spectacular landscape nearby there’s really no reason to be frustrated. Landscape Photography is not only about photographing the next spectacular sunset. First and foremost it’s about enjoying nature and trying to capture the atmospheres that are presented, whatever they are.
Over the past years I started to embrace those gloomy moods that are created by grey skies once it gets a bit darker. If the sky breaks up and I get that magical light, that’s great. But, if this doesn’t happen, I simply focus on capturing the dark atmosphere of a gloomy evening. This worked especially with those rough looking landscapes I found along the coast of northern Spain.
Also I can usually find some nearby forests or even waterfalls through research. And those are the perfect subjects to photograph under cloudy skies. Putting a Polarizing Filter in front of the lens will make the colors pop and when there’s fog or rain the photos will get a mystic look.
I show an example together with a third recipe, which is photographing false sunrises or sunsets, in the video below. With false I mean that I can get a glowing sky, even if there is no sun breaking through the clouds. I simply use the artificial light of a nearby town or city, which is reflected off the grey sky. When I photograph long before sunrise or after sunset the resulting photos can become very vibrant, same as during a spectacular sunrise or sunset. Just that there is none.
I hope this little article and the video inspires you to head out the next time the weather doesn’t cooperate. If you are travelling you often don’t have enough time to wait for the perfect light. So always remember a grey sky might be just as perfect to capture the essence of a scene.