31 May 2011

Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain

I really don't worry about the weather when I am free shooting as I can usually manage to get something out of the day but when trying to make specific images it is hard to do so when the light is not behaving!  So I have some experience of shooting in horrible conditions including a day at the Eden Project when it rained cats and dogs all day but I still managed to get this image:

 The Eden Project in the rain

 This exercise asks us to shoot in a variety of less than perfect conditions to experiment with the different looks that are available in changeable light and poor weather.

Firstly, we look at 3 different subjects under direct sunlight and then under diffuse cloud, shot with the WB set to daylight to examine the difference in exposure and colour. 

1/1600, f5.6, ISO50
This white feather on a white background was shot at 1/1600 with f5.6 at ISO 50.  The sunlight has left nice hard shadows and the white is just about colourless... ie properly white or off white!  The image below was shot a few minutes later with the sun behind a cloud diffusing the light and reducing its intensity by a value of 2 stops.  The definition is noticeably softer and the WB has a blue tint.

1/400, f5.6, ISO50
Of the two, I prefer the gentle light of the cloudy image as there is still plenty of depth to the photo but the soft shadows suit the subject nicely.

1/1600, f4, ISO50
This pottery dove in the sunlight looks great and, like the images above is shot 2 stops higher to compensate for the increased light levels.  Below the same subject looks significantly softer with the texture of the pottery less obvious which is a shame as it is an integral part of the object.  I definitely don't like the white balance that was achieved with the lower photo so prefer the direct sunlight.

 1/400, f4, ISO50

Finally some shots of peg dolls.

1/3200, f5.6, ISO200
Moving away from rather monochrome images, these colourful peg dolls show up so much better under direct sunlight with the colours jumping out of the image when compared with the dull and flatter effect of the cloudy lit image below.  The sunlit image was shot at approx 3 shops above the cloudy image.

1/60, f10, ISO50
 Looking through my library for photographs that would not have looked better in sunlight I found the following.

 This image taken over a lake in Canada, BC took advantage of the early morning mist and cloud to create interesting light and visual texture in the water that adds an another element to the image.  Bright sunlight would have taken away the subtle light layers that I could capture more easily in the even light that was present.

 This wedding photograph of the groom was on a cloudy day which helped this particular image as I didn't need any hard shadows obscuring the interior of the top hat or making it hard to distinguish the different blacks in  the shot.

 Shooting on an overcast day I took these images to demonstrate the effects of this type of light.

 Both these images show a lot of texture and grooves which have responded well to the diffuse light this overcast day gave me.  Sometimes direct light at the right angle can give a great impression of relief but with the deep groves that this subject has, hard shadows would have hidden a lot of detail. 

 A third image with some strong colours shows that even with dynamic colours like red and orange the hue is subdued by the diffuse light when compared with direct and bright sunlight.

 Finally, we were asked to shoot some photographs in rainy and cloudy conditions to demonstrate to ourselves that these conditions may not be ideal for photography but they give interesting opportunities that we would otherwise loose.  I chose a wet and dreary day at Heathrow airport.

 A B747 emerges from the low cloud to land.

 Long water trails down this window reflect the orange and red of this Iberia aircraft.

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