The last few days here in northern Utah we've had fog, frost, overcast sky, and haze. Still I have taken short jaunts out each morning, after my daughter leaves for school, to see what pictures I can make. All of the images in this post were taken with my Sony A6000 mirrorless camera, the Sony 18mm to 105mm zoom lens, and on a tripod.
The problem with taking pictures on these gray days is that there is so little contrast for easily making good photographs. My solution has been to either: embrace the low contrast light to make soft high key black and white images, look for subjects with contrasting colors, or make high contrast images where the light and dark values of the subject matter are juxtaposed against each other.
Above is a low contrast landscape image that I took to create a photo that had a soft delicate, almost ethereal feeling. I noticed this tree and bushes while walking around the property of an abandoned home in heavy fog. I slightly overexposed the image to capture the soft fogy atmosphere that enveloped the tree.
This next image I took after driving my car down a tractor path to get closer to a lone tree I had spotted from the main road. My photograph tries to contrast the colors of the yellowish grasses with the stark black tree and the hazy bluish tint of the background (below). I also included the tractor path in the composition to lead the eye from the foreground to the background.
I took this high contrast photograph of a wooded area on the periphery of a farmer's field. In processing this photograph I have emphasized the row of grasses against the massive dark value of the tree in the background (below). I used a small aperture of around f18 to get all of the scene in focus. Usually the rules of photographic composition say to simplify the world around us. Here I have deliberately kept the image cluttered to highlight the messy look of the woods as I saw them on this frosty morning. My goal being to make a photograph more modern artistically than the more traditional landscapes I usually take.
Closeup pictures are easily made in the low contrast light of an overcast day. The overcast light acts as a large diffuser making the light soft and even. This image was made when I took a walk along a path through some nearby woods. I spotted a few green leaves that had not changed colors during the fall. I loved the way frost had outlined the leaf and I moved in close to take my picture (below). I deliberately selected a large aperture, around f4, to blur out the distracting background with a shallow depth of field.
I also made a trip on an overcast day to one of my favorite locations, the Hill Aerospace Museum in Roy, Utah. With the low contrast light of the day I was able to photograph this gigantic C-124 cargo plane (below) against a soft blue-gray background. The soft light really allowed the colorfully painted front-end to stand out. I saw a volunteer worker sweeping the walkway and I waited until he came into the picture to give viewers a sense of the size of the aircraft. I took the picture from down low with my lens at a wide angle setting to capture as much of this huge aircraft as I could in the the shot. By way, does nose of this aircraft look like a clown's face to you?
You see, even on overcast days with no direct light you can still make great photographs. So forget huddling down in that comfy chair with a book and cup of hot chocolate, get out and make some beautiful pictures. Remember you really can take photos in any light.