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02-10-2013, 01:48 PM   #1
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Tips for photography in dull grey weather?

I've only recently got a DSLR but the weather's been crap ever since it arrived as is normal in this country for about 8 months of the year. In such dull grey conditions, what does everyone do to try and create the best exposure possible? Is it a case of just bumping up the ISO? And generally speaking what do you do in lightroom to improve your photos taken in this sort of weather?

I'm off to Paris next week and the weathers pretty similar over there at the moment so want to not screw up as many photos as possible.

02-10-2013, 02:11 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by saint_david Quote
I've only recently got a DSLR but the weather's been crap ever since it arrived as is normal in this country for about 8 months of the year. In such dull grey conditions, what does everyone do to try and create the best exposure possible? Is it a case of just bumping up the ISO? And generally speaking what do you do in lightroom to improve your photos taken in this sort of weather?

I'm off to Paris next week and the weathers pretty similar over there at the moment so want to not screw up as many photos as possible.
I bump my yellows a bit
02-10-2013, 02:27 PM   #3
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Country/road kind of stuff looks pretty cool with gray skies. In LR I would just bump the contrast and highlights to give the light more edge. In dull gray conditions light is spread pretty evenly but you still get some shadows, so I usually try to do some kind of faux-sunlight effect with contrast and curves. That way there is emphasis on what is in the light. Also you could try "drawing" in light using the brush in lightroom.

Other than that you can raise vibrance and clarity. That should have an instant positive effect on general dull-condition photos. But as always, it depends on what kind of mood you are shooting for.
02-10-2013, 02:34 PM   #4
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Dull conditions usually make exposure easier because there's less total dynamic range - the difference between the brightest and darkest areas of the shot. It's not as necessary to use the Expose To The Right guideline, where the histogram is mostly on the right side but not overexposed, because you won't need to pull as much out of the shadows that aren't there.

The sky can be an exposure problem. It's easy to overexpose, and when it's not overexposed it's uninteresting and can create a depressed mood in the shot.

Color temperature is different on cloudy days.

Portraits and people shots work better with the more even light. Colors can pop more against a background that doesn't compete. Cloudy days are ideal for selective color without all the post-processing work.

02-10-2013, 02:37 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. Wouldn't shutter speeds be lower as the light is poor making camera shake more of an issue when taking the photo?
02-10-2013, 02:49 PM   #6
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Having lived throughout Europe for about a third of my life... The weather conditions usually should only take off about two to three stops of exposure; just depends. One should still be able to get quite favorable pics in about any iso setting; even 200, even one hundred or above - with most any lens.

The best times of day to take pics are early in the morning (even before the fog burns off in some places) or late in the afternoon/early evening for the best lighting. The weather and cloud conditions make for some interesting atmosphere in some pics.

Most cameras should adjust properly for the color temperature of lighing conditions automatically, but be sure to check for how shades of white look as well as all skin tones. If for some reason the white shades are not coming out correctly one can do one of two options - simply make for warmer shades in the menus, or better yet... Shoot everything with both raw=jpeg and fix it all later.

Also noting the weather conditions; it sincerely helps to have a version of a (gadget) bag with an added all weather cover, and also possibly some heavier duty plastic bags
02-10-2013, 05:16 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by saint_david Quote
Thanks for the replies. Wouldn't shutter speeds be lower as the light is poor making camera shake more of an issue when taking the photo?
Yes, especially when using longer lens. On my K-30 I like to use TAv mode so I can set the shutter speed and aperture and let the camera choose the ISO. I usually know how open I can use the lens successfully, and how fast I want the shutter, and with the K-30 high ISOs are usually useable!
02-10-2013, 06:50 PM   #8
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A really good lens makes a big improvement in bad light. (a 31mm maybe?)

02-10-2013, 06:56 PM   #9
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When possible, try to compose so the grey sky is not in the frame. It will almost always blow out anyway, leaving you with white skies - not pretty. With that big, bright grey softbox not fouling up the exposure, you can make the soft, even light work for you, saturating colors and evening up the exposure range. If shutter speed is falling enough to affect sharpness, use a tripod or bump up the ISO. Try shooting small rather than wide to concentrate the eye on details and features rather than grand landscapes.
02-10-2013, 07:34 PM   #10
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Process as B&W?
02-10-2013, 07:43 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by saint_david Quote
I've only recently got a DSLR but the weather's been crap ever since it arrived as is normal in this country for about 8 months of the year. In such dull grey conditions, what does everyone do to try and create the best exposure possible? Is it a case of just bumping up the ISO? And generally speaking what do you do in lightroom to improve your photos taken in this sort of weather?

I'm off to Paris next week and the weathers pretty similar over there at the moment so want to not screw up as many photos as possible.
Some things that worked for me on recent vacation in NYC: lots of grey overcast days
- Don't blow out the sky, even though the land/buildings etc will look dark in camera. You can fix in post.
- Shoot raw so you have the most exposure latitude to work with
- Keep ISO low if possible, so you are still relatively noise free after boosting exposure of the darker areas. In LR4 boost shadows & use blacks slider to bring low end of histogram back to full black.
- After fixing exposure etc, boost clarity & vibrance; in the tone curve panel, use the target adjustment tool to selectively boost contrast
- One "cheat" I used on one photo to simulate a nice day was to use the grad filter tool on the sky and lower the colour temp to get a blue sky. Can work well on the right image but can also look terrible.
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