Flat Light… what to do?

We just returned from a photo tour of Cape May, NJ. Cape May is a beautiful town, with historic homes, coastal beauty, and lots of natural habitat to enjoy. For the first time ever though, we did not have one peek at blue sky or a single naturally-casted shadow. Thankfully we did not have full on rain. We simply had clouds and lots of them. This can pose a real challenge for photography, particularly if you were looking forward to amazing sunrises and sunsets that often occur in this area. As travel photographers know though, it is not uncommon to not get the conditions for which we had hoped and planned. Which means we need to be flexible and adaptable to the conditions we do get. So here are some thoughts on how to roll with it and some images to display the results of being open minded. 

Realize that the clouds act as a giant diffuser, allowing for soft light and even tones. As seen these photos, there are no hard shadows or contrasty light with which to deal. This allowed me to determine where to put shadows and lighter areas through dodging and burning techniques. 


The solid overcast in the early morning and late evening also allows for the capture of images that are simply convey the moodiness of the scenery. Creating monochromatic images that are cold and stark…. just like the changing of the seasons from summer to fall and fall to winter. Honestly, it would be nearly impossible to create these images under any other conditions. 

The cool misty conditions provided ample opportunity to capture nature is its peaceful morning state, as shown below. 

Lastly, the even flat light also provided the chance to work on some panning swipes. Bright light makes these images difficult to capture, as the shutter speed tends to be too fast. So the overcast conditions were perfect for some time on the boardwalk! 

Sometimes when nature doesn’t cooperate it can be tempting to wait it out inside. It would be a tragedy to do this. Take advantage of the conditions to try something new, practice new techniques, or capture imagery that exhibits that mood that these conditions manifest. Carpe Diem!


Flat Light… what to do?


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Your pictures always take my breath away… so talented!!

  2. While the blowing sand and rain was a challenge that was managed, the mental shift to taking pictures in other than expected weather took a bit to kick in. I am still developing my pi and am really enjoying the moodiness and soft lighting.

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