Ode to Overcast

Art Photography Photography Tricks

Ode to Overcast

Overcast, you are given such a bad rep!
Endless people rushing to pick the sunniest day-
The brightest day.
Little do they know what you can give.
Little do they know that you hold the key to
beautiful couple photos and
beauty magazine level selfies.
No squinty eyes,
No blown out highlights,
just a wonderful,
transition from
light to


Do you like my poem? Get it printed and hang it up!

In all honesty, overcast is the best option when shooting outdoors.
When I have a portrait session, I HOPE for an overcast day.

Why overcast?

As I mention in my wonderfully written verse above, it is the most even outdoor lighting you can get. If I don’t have the option of an overcast day, I will always, ALWAYS, opt for shade.

Think of it this way…

Your lighting source when you are outdoors, is the sun. When it is overcast, then the white clouds are in front of the sun, diffusing it. Think about when you learned the difference between transparent and opaque objects, there were other objects that are semi-transparent. If you were to put a semi-transparent object in front of your subject it would even out the light and dark tones. Like the clouds do with the harsh highlights you typically get on a very sunny day. It also creates a more gradual and flattering transition from light to dark, so you don’t get those super harsh shadows.

Make sense? You can further demonstrate the diffusion effect if you take a regular light you have in your home, and put a semi-transparent object in front of the light (think sheer curtains or wax paper, but be careful of burning it if you light is hot!)

Tips for shooting in overcast light

Overcast is very helpful in creating the optimal lighting for portraiture. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Skies won’t be that interesting.

Your sky will always come out gray and normally doesn’t have much texture, since texture is revealed through differences in light. I generally try and make the sky less of the focus during portrait shoots on overcast days.

Your darks will be darker.

Since there is less light, you will have to expose for the lack of it. There are many ways you can compensate for this with your camera’s settings, such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Learn more about how to control your camera settings in my e-course!


Bring a reflector or bounce card.

Reflectors are really great for bounce the light up into your subject’s face. Since there is no light coming from one source, turning your subject’s face towards the sun will only give marginal improvement. If you have a reflector, you can use either the silver (for white light) or gold (for gold/yellow light) side to brighten your subject’s face. Here is one that I use.

If you don’t have a reflector, you can achieve around the same results with a white board. I use foam core for this, since it is easy to hold, and comes in different sizes. If you want to use for some selfies, you can get a small foam core or matte board and hold under your face to get a lift in lighting!

Want to learn more? Learn how to take great photos without professional photography lights or read about a simple way to make your images look better, even on sunny days.

Lastly, don’t forget to get your free, fancy photography poem printable to remind you of the benefits of overcast. Share it with your friends!

Can you write a poem or a sonnet about your art? Let’s hear it!

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