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11-21-2017, 05:48 AM   #1
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How to improve a dull and boring cloudy photo?

Hello,

I think all of us, will have to deal with cloudy photos occasionally, because normally when we travel, we book the ticket long time ahead, and when the day comes, and we arrive at our destination, the weather is not so nice. So we only have the choices between whether to take some dull and boring photos, or not taking any photo at all (of course some cloudy photo with intention and creativeness behind are different, I'm just not that good yet )

Now, coming back from home, the question is, what can we do to make the most of of those photos? For example, I just came back from a short trip to Paris, and the weather was very grey, so every photo I took in daylight was grey (instead of looking great under sunset or sunrise).

I will upload a photo tonight when back from work.

I have both Lightroom and Photoshop, and what I can think of is only:

- Add more contrast
- Maybe dehaze a little bit
- Add some more color saturation (but this is tricky, as it can make the photo look fake)
- Maybe to change it to B&W if it still looks dull

And what about you? What would you normally do with cloudy and rainy photo (unplanned) that look so uninspiring?

Edit: okay, so I'll take one photo taken at Notre Dame, my favourite place in Paris, with a lot of cloud. I really want to learn how to improve photo like this (if there is a way).

https://photos.app.goo.gl/ToJEQthSZgEbvh5G3


Last edited by Bui; 11-21-2017 at 01:32 PM. Reason: Add photo as example
11-21-2017, 06:23 AM - 1 Like   #2
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If it's truly a "dull and boring" photo, if "there's no there there", PP is not the answer. Garbage in, garbage out. Like putting lipstick on a pig. What other clichés can I come up with?

Cloudy weather is an opportunity. The resulting diffuse light is actually ideal for many kinds of subjects. Go in closer; keep the sky out of the frame (if it's just dull gray skies). By all means boost contrast as appropriate. Low contrast subjects rendered with high contrast can look fantastic, if it's not overdone.

Since you're talking about photos you already have, and you want to rescue, look for what's interesting and try to emphasize that. Might involve cropping, converting to black and white, selective tonal adjustments, whatever brings out the meaning of the images.
11-21-2017, 06:32 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bui Quote
Hello,

I think all of us, will have to deal with cloudy photos occasionally, because normally when we travel, we book the ticket long time ahead, and when the day comes, and we arrive at our destination, the weather is not so nice. So we only have the choices between whether to take some dull and boring photos, or not taking any photo at all (of course some cloudy photo with intention and creativeness behind are different, I'm just not that good yet )

Now, coming back from home, the question is, what can we do to make the most of of those photos? For example, I just came back from a short trip to Paris, and the weather was very grey, so every photo I took in daylight was grey (instead of looking great under sunset or sunrise).

I will upload a photo tonight when back from work.

I have both Lightroom and Photoshop, and what I can think of is only:

- Add more contrast
- Maybe dehaze a little bit
- Add some more color saturation (but this is tricky, as it can make the photo look fake)
- Maybe to change it to B&W if it still looks dull

And what about you? What would you normally do with cloudy and rainy photo (unplanned) that look so uninspiring?
It has to start when you first take the photo. Cut out as much of the blank area (Sky) as possible and take advantage of natures bounce lighting to bring out details in nooks & crannies that you will never get on high contrast lighting. If you missed on the shoot then crop in the Lab. Some times that overcast sky has great detail in it dark & light patches that you want to give character to a special scene. You are limiting terribly your shoot time (sunset / sunrise). P.S. give us some examples of what you are up against.

Last edited by honey bo bo; 01-06-2018 at 10:47 AM.
11-21-2017, 06:37 AM - 5 Likes   #4
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To me the big question is whether or not you can capture at least a little detail in the sky. If you can't then you probably should take pictures that minimize the sky's presence in the image.

If you can keep at least a little detail in the sky, then adding a digital GND, adding contrast and a little clarity in post are things that can help a bit. Black and white definitely has a place to at times for very gray situations.





11-21-2017, 06:46 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bui Quote
Hello,

I think all of us, will have to deal with cloudy photos occasionally, because normally when we travel, we book the ticket long time ahead, and when the day comes, and we arrive at our destination, the weather is not so nice. So we only have the choices between whether to take some dull and boring photos, or not taking any photo at all (of course some cloudy photo with intention and creativeness behind are different, I'm just not that good yet )

Now, coming back from home, the question is, what can we do to make the most of of those photos? For example, I just came back from a short trip to Paris, and the weather was very grey, so every photo I took in daylight was grey (instead of looking great under sunset or sunrise).

I will upload a photo tonight when back from work.

I have both Lightroom and Photoshop, and what I can think of is only:

- Add more contrast
- Maybe dehaze a little bit
- Add some more color saturation (but this is tricky, as it can make the photo look fake)
- Maybe to change it to B&W if it still looks dull

And what about you? What would you normally do with cloudy and rainy photo (unplanned) that look so uninspiring?
For sure I will go right away to black and white and do extensive PP in LR/PS, but need to see the photographs in question...
11-21-2017, 06:50 AM - 1 Like   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rondec Quote
To me the big question is whether or not you can capture at least a little detail in the sky. If you can't then you probably should take pictures that minimize the sky's presence in the image.

If you can keep at least a little detail in the sky, then adding a digital GND, adding contrast and a little clarity in post are things that can help a bit. Black and white definitely has a place to at times for very gray situations.



Great barn shot.

---------- Post added 11-21-17 at 08:52 AM ----------

DXO Clearview can help cut the Haze and bring some detail. The point made above about using the light to advantage is good but I think your question is more about travel photography when the sky is dull and needs to be in the shot?
11-21-2017, 07:11 AM - 2 Likes   #7
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Put less sky in the photo: Can be done during composition, or crop in LR later. Maybe zoom in on an architectural detail instead of showing an entire building.

Enhance cloud definition: Try the clarity slider; sometimes it works and other times it looks ugly. Play with the blue luminance slider.

HDR: Can be done with a single image and might be able to add some interest in a cloudy sky.

B&W conversion.

Sky replacement: Use layers to copy sky from a different photo. I never use this one in my photos but others have success with it.
11-21-2017, 07:14 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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Lack of contrast is the problem. You can bump contrast a little, but it will start to look pretty screwy pretty quickly. Same with color saturation. Our brain knows that's a cloudy day and over-manipulation will not look real. You'll have to do a lot of experimenting, and I don't think there's a single solution.

11-21-2017, 07:14 AM - 1 Like   #9
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One essential step to improve dull light photos is to use high contrast lens. That is, it is not much use to use anything else but Zeiss lenses during cloudy days. Maybe 35mm ltd macro or 100mm macro wr will do. Other useful thing to do is to not take any photos at all. Third option is to use something like Luminar 2018 Sunray filter to include fake light effects and stuff like 5 artificial suns into the image.
11-21-2017, 07:28 AM - 1 Like   #10
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P.S. The OP said Paris. If the day is too cloudy for good photos, try night photography. Skies don't matter much for night cityscapes.
11-21-2017, 08:26 AM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bui Quote
And what about you? What would you normally do with cloudy and rainy photo (unplanned) that look so uninspiring?
Several thoughts that work to a greater or lesser degree:

- Use the clouds, if they provide an interesting pattern
- Overcast can be good, even lighting. Use it for good lighting and even illumination of buildings and people, but gather less sky in the photo, since it can be uninteresting
- If raining, capture puddles, reflections in puddles, and drops on flowers and things
- Realize that cloudy does not have to mean "gloomy". Overcast can just translate to "accuracy" for when you were there, which is not the same as "bad".
11-21-2017, 09:33 AM - 1 Like   #12
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Dull light is a fact of life and the norm much of the year where I live. This is actually good for some subjects (floral, forests, tumbling streams with mossy banks, etc.). As noted above, choice of subject to work with the light is the key.


Steve
11-21-2017, 11:52 AM - 1 Like   #13
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Sometimes I take a dull image and run it through the filters in PS, then take my favorite and call it "creative" or "Art."
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11-21-2017, 12:18 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Sometimes I take a dull image and run it through the filters in PS, then take my favorite and call it "creative" or "Art."
Sometimes a minute or three in little 'ol Faststone can improve a dull image
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11-21-2017, 12:18 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by WPRESTO Quote
Sometimes I take a dull image and run it through the filters in PS, then take my favorite and call it "creative" or "Art."
On first look I went AAARRRRGGGHHHHH!, then smiled and thought uumm maybe!

In lightroom I tend to boost exposure and drop the highlight back to nothing if there has to be grey sky, at least some detail turns up usually. If not then crop as much out as possible as already mentioned.
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