Great Tips for Taking Cloudy Day Photography

Written by | Photography

Not many people know this, but wide-angle lenses were actually developed for photographing clouds. Nowadays, we tend to shy away from overcast days and weather. I’m here to tell you to go outside. A cloudy day is a great time for photography. These fluffy sky monsters can help give you a great shot! And we’ll tell you exactly how in this article.

Photograph Cityscapes on Cloudy Days

Cities and clouds can make you think of a fantasy story with a metropolis floating in the skies. If you have ever been to South America, you may not need to use your imagination.
I am reminded of my travels throughout Equador – each city is stationed in a valley. So, to travel from one to another, a bus journey along steep cliffs is a necessity.
As you pass each city, they all sit there, marinating in a pool of clouds. You come across a beautiful scene until you see that your driver is only using one arm to drive.
You don’t have to put yourself in the way – the simplest shots are the best. Wait for fog or a bunch of low clouds.
Capture the skyscrapers peeking out. This makes for a glorious shot.

Which Settings Should You Use on a Cloudy Day

Cloudy day photography settings are a little different than what you would use on a clear or overcast day.
Every time your light changes, you need to change your settings. If you are shooting in a cloudy environment, your light source (sun) will repeatedly hide and reveal itself.
This can be a pain if you need to stick to a strict timescale. As a rule of thumb, the clouds are going to pull 2-3 stops of light from your scene.
I remember a portrait session I did for a magazine, using a medium format film camera. A Polaroid back was used for correct light exposing, switching to film for the shot. Each time I replaced the backs, the sun went behind the clouds, and then came out again. This went on for at least two hours. A digital camera will make it easier. Here’s how.
You know about Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, but what about setting your ISO to automatic? Find it in your camera, and go one stop before ISO 100.

Give the Sky Definition With Cloud Formations

You may find a great landscape photography scene, but unless the sky has something interesting in it, it may fall flat. You can use birds, planes, balloons – even someone jumping.
Clouds are the easiest things to wait for unless you have all of the above readily available.
These clouds add texture, shape, and form – some even look like animals. Use them to your advantage.
Unless you want that high-key landscape photography shot, add clouds to that scene now.

Try Long Exposure Cloud Photography

Long exposures are great at any time of the day or night. Especially if you have access to cloudy days, an environment, or a scene.
Clouds add texture, shape, and form already. Capturing them with a long shutter speed adds movement and a wave-like presence to your scene.
The mood could be relaxing and calm or giving the viewer a sense of urgency and foreboding – such as the build-up of a storm.
Place your camera on a tripod, and use a shutter speed of five seconds or longer.

Last modified: February 26, 2021