Saturday, 27 August 2011

Exercise - Cloudy weather and rain

Cloudy weather can give some very interesting effects in the sky, but it can also alter the image considerably. While sunshine is pleasant and often thought of as being the best situation to take photographs in it can cause problems due to heavy shadows and lack of detail in the image.

Example 1.

Sun - ISO 100, f/6.3, 90mm efl, 1/200 sec

This image is taken in bright sunshine. It is generally pleasing but the shadow line across the exhausts distracts from the details.

Shade - ISO 125, f/9, 90mm efl, 1/60 sec

Here the whole of the exhausts are evenly lit without the distracting shadow line. There is about 3 stops of difference in the exposure, allowing for the slightly different ISO and f-number.This image is slightly bluer than the one taken in the sun.

Example 2.

Sun - ISO 160, 90mm efl, f/3.2, 1/2500 sec

This picture was taken in bright sunshine (in spite of the cloudy background). The sun reflecting off the metal rim of the hanger made getting a correct exposure difficult and you cannot see any detail inside the edge.

Shade - ISO 160, f/6.3, 90mm efl, 1/500sec

Here there is much more visible detail in the inside of the image (seen better in a larger pixel count), and the pattern of the metal hanger can be seen. There is about 3 stops of difference between the images.

Shade or sun? Both can be interesting. As in many things it depends on what the image is about.
Sun and shadows cause modelling and high relief but can obscure detail. In the pictures of the engine exhausts the shadow is distracting.
In the portrait shown in the manual bright sunshine is likely to have caused shadows to fall across the face and to have obscured the expressions. The flat light also contributes to the calm look, which fits with the overall theme of the photo.

Shade is Best!

The next part of the exercise is to look back at previous photographs and pick ones that benefited from shade.

Left Behind. ISO 100, f/5.6, 90mm efl, 1/100 sec

This picture was taken while walking along the coastal path on a dull day. The picture is the contrast between the regular patterns of the old tyre and the irregular shapes of the grass and flowers. If there had been the added complication of bands of shadow, or if the centre of the tyre curve had been in shade, it would not have been as effective. The absence of bright sunlight also contributed to my decision to do a monochrome conversion as I felt the patterns produced were enhanced this way.

Grieving. ISO 160, f/6, 90mm efl, 1/60 sec

In this picture of an old fashioned tombstone the main focus is on the face hidden beneath the cloak. If this had been taken in sunlight the face would have been very dark in contrast to the cloak, or if exposed for the face the cloak would have been burnt out.

Unwanted. ISO 100, f/11, 90mm efl, 1/80 sec

These old aircraft hangers show every detail of rust. If the day had been sunny they might have looked less dilapidated and unwanted. The mood was helped by the stormy clouds and the lack of sun.

 I then then took a variety of images deliberately in the shade.

Example 1.

Roots. ISO 400, f/5.6, 40mm efl, 1/13 sec

These densely tangled roots were taken from virtually under the tree. The light was poor anyway. If the sun had been shining shadows would have made the details in the roots less obvious.

 Example 2.
ISO 100, f/2.8, 90mm efl, 1/800sec

This was a very bright day but this flower head was in the shade of a glasshouse. The shade enabled me to take the finely detailed petals with an even light across the flower.

Example 3.

Curves. ISO 100, f/2.8, 90mm efl, 1/320 sec.

The even light shows the details in the old stonework and the different colours.


Rain is a very common phenomenon in Scotland. Stopping taking pictures means that you loose well over half the available time, sometimes it feels like all the time. Pictures can be taken in the rain, looking at the rain, or after the rain looking at its effects.

Example 1.

Summer Rain.  ISO 100, f/2, 90mm efl, 1/160 sec

A sudden summer shower brings out the coloured umbrellas!

Example 2.

Gray Day. ISO 100, f/2.8, 90mm efl, 1/500 sec

This was taken 2 minutes after the previous one - but looking in the other direction. The mood purveyed is completely different, and exaggerated by the monochrome treatment .

Example 3.

Raindrops. ISO 400, f/13, 32mm efl, 1/25 sec.

Immediately after the rain has stopped, saturated petals on drooping flowers.

A Last Thought.

The other weather we see a lot of here is snow. This would make a whole subject in itself, as the light varies enormously, but the other day we were driving back up the A68 in brilliant sunshine and we stopped:

Sunny times. ISO 80, f/8, 1/125 sec.

Last year we were driving up the same road in February and stopped at the same lay by, the weather was slightly different:

Snow if Falling. ISO 100, f/5, 1/250 sec.

Learning points:
  1. Any weather is suitable for photography
  2. Sometimes shade gives you more detail 
  3. Think about what you are taking (this comes up time and time again)

No comments:

Post a Comment