Shooting an outdoor portrait photograph on a cloudy day can be great but can have disadvantages too. Cloudy overcast skies means very bright sunlight is missing and the overall lighting is even. On the low side, you can end up with dull portraits if the light is insufficient. Here are some tips you can try out when shooting an outdoor portrait photograph on a cloudy day.
You can usually shoot on a cloudy day without a flash and capture the subject in ambient light. This generally creates natural-looking soft portraits as there is no harsh light around. However, if the clouds are very dark and the natural light seems insufficient, do use a flash so that you do not end up with dimly lit portraits.
Reflectors can be used to bounce light into your subject’s face, thus highlighting it. Reflectors come in a range of shapes, sizes and colors. You can play around with them in outdoor portrait photography on cloudy days as the light around is soft and even. Flipside is you would need an assistant to hold the reflector!
On cloudy days, the effect the landscape has on the portrait is immense. Depending on the theme you have in mind, you can choose from a variety like a barn, a stone wall, picket fence, the beach, a shaded hillside and so on. Make sure the distance and angle of your subject from the landscape is perfectly balanced. A slight blurring of the background too makes for stunning pictures on a cloudy day.
Even though the sun may not be directly visible due to the clouds, its effect is important. Find the direction of the sun and get your subject to face that direction (i.e. behind you). You will see the difference in the final portrait.
Cameras having fast lens with wide aperture values give you a shallow depth of field. These are ideal for portrait photography. When shooting in ambient light on a cloudy day, set your aperture to f8 and shutter speed of 1/200.
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