Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain

The brief:

For the first part of this exercise photograph the same view in sunlight and under cloud. You can do this at different times or on different days. Choose two or three different subjects such as a building, a person, and a street scene. Note the difference in exposures. Keep the white balance set to sunlight/daylight.

Building - sunny

Fig 01 – Building – sunny
f6.3, 1/100, 26mm, ISO 200

Building - cloudy

Fig 02 – Building – cloudy
f5.6, 1/125, 24mm, ISO 400

In order to be able to handhold my camera I had to bump up my ISO to 400 for the cloudy shot and also had to open the aperture by a third of a stop. The cloudy image (fig 02) is quite a bit bluer than the sunny image (Fig 01) and gives a feeling of cold, which it was as I recall.

Fig 03 - Rob - Sunny

Fig 03 – Robert – sunny
f3.2, 1/500, 50mm, ISO 100

Robert - cloudy

Fig 04 – Robert – cloudy
f2.5, 1/100, 50mm, ISO 200

Fig 03 was taken in the early afternoon when the sun was still quite high in the sky. My son is positioned with his back to the sun and the sun has cast a warm glow on his complexion even though he is backlit and there is a bit of edge lighting on the right side of his face. Fig 04 was taken about one hour before sunset on an overcast day. I actually do quite like this light as it wraps around the subject and doesn’t cause any racoon-like shadows under the eyes. The sun, if visible, would have been behind and to the right of my son. Fig 04 definitely has cooler tones.

Fig 05 - Alley Patio - sunny

Fig 05 – Alley Patio – sunny
f8, 1/80, 35mm, ISO 200

Fig 06 - Alley Patio - overcast

Fig 06 – Alley Patio – overcast
f6.3, 1/100, 18mm, ISO 200

Fig 05 and 06 feature the same scene taken at different angles. In fig 05 the shadows from the umbrella and garbage containers are clearly visible. In fig 06 no shadows are visible with the exception of those below the green container holding discarded car tyres. The colours in fig 06 are also a tad more saturated.

For the second part of the exercise take three photographs outdoors, on an overcast day, that make good use of the enveloping, shadowless light. Look for some detail that has pronounced relief, such as the gnarled roots of an old tree. Also look for an object with a strong colour.

Fig 07 - Gnarled roots

Fig 07 – Gnarled roots
f2.5, 1/40, 50mm, ISO 200

Coming back from a gallery exhibition, I found myself tripping over these tree roots that were breaking up some of the pavement. Luckily I had my camera with me so I quickly composed a few shots of these gnarly roots. It was overcast and the light is quite flat. The image would definitely look better if there was early morning or late afternoon raking light hitting the roots which would provide a bit of shadow and depth to the image.

Fig 08 - Bird house

Fig 08 – Bird house
f5.3, 1/80, 42mm, ISO 200

The bird house in fig 08 has both texture and colour. The colours are quite saturated under the overcast sky, while the texture is sadly lacking. No shadows are visible around the raised orange flowers and butterfly and the wood appears quite smooth in this flat light.

Fig 09 - Hostas

Fig 09 – Hostas
f5, 1/15, 36mm, ISO 200

Fig 09 features the winter textures of the hostas shrub. No shadows are visible and what could have been an interesting tangle of vegetation is quite flat with little contrast.

For the third part of the exercise, you will need rain… Rain can produce interesting visual effects: glistening pavements, lots of reflections, patterns of raindrops on glass, ringlets as rain strikes water, a misty appearance to landscapes, and so on. A rainbow is a special bonus.

Fig 10 - Rain abstract  f8, 1/100, 55mm, ISO 400

Fig 10 – Rain abstract
f8, 1/100, 55mm, ISO 400

This is a photo of a car park taken from inside a car. It forms a nice abstract with the tonal variations of the grey objects in the foreground and the green tones of the trees in the background, with a touch of blue and yellow accent colours on camera right.

Fig 11 - Rain and mist

Fig 11 – Rain and mist
f8, 1/160, 55mm, ISO 400

Taken on the same day, it was raining quite heavily and the mist was coming in over the mountains and settling in the cove just up ahead. The roads are glistening and cars’ tail lights are reflecting in the surface of the road. The colours are all deeply saturated.