How to Troubleshoot Cloud Cover

I used to think that shooting portraits outside was far easier than studio work. Today proved those assumptions wrong.

The weather conditions were partly cloudy with a minimal chance of rain. However, that minimal chance of rain, turned into an absolute chance of rain. Luckily it only lasted for five minutes.

Tip #1: Make sure you know exactly what kind of weather conditions to expect for your photo shoot outdoors. It can help you pack an umbrella or a blanket for shading too much light.

I’ve always heard that sunlight is the best lighting. I soon learned that this rule is void when the cloud cover changes every minute. One minute, I’d have my manual setting perfect for conditions, and then the next moment, the clouds would change the lighting and my photos would be underexposed.

Tip #2: If the photos you planned aren’t working out, try something different. Even the slightest whim can turn into an awesome photo.

Tip #3: Look at every photo you take as you take them. This can give you a clue as to if you are shooting with the right settings. It can also help you overexpose for a shot that is still too dark for your taste.

Here’s a few of my favorite photos from the session.

I focused a lot of my attention on taking down shots of the train yard. But they just weren’t turning out the way I imagined them. As I turned around to leave, I saw this.


I started taking photos under the bridge. That way my camera wasn’t as dependent on the lighting from the sky.

Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to ask your model to come prepared with some poses. My model loves catching motion in his poses. Also, when your model does a pose they prepared for they will most likely feel and look the most comfortable.

This was one of the hardest photos to take. The overcast conditions constantly changed the lighting and I was on the wrong side of the train yard to get light from the sunset. Here I learned to overexpose on my camera, to get a well lit photo.

This grunge feel was from the inside of an old football stadium.

I loved the expression I managed to catch and I didn’t have to work against the cloud cover.

Tip #5: Don’t stop taking photos ever. Even when your model thinks that you are done with a pose or scene, keep taking photos. I caught my model out of character and yet this expression is my favorite from the entire shoot.

I encourage you to try shooting outside in less than ideal conditions. Why? You learn to troubleshoot, adjust and think quickly. And photography is all about catching the perfect moments.

Have you ever had any less than ideal situations? How did you deal with them?




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