Shooting in Overcast Light


I am sure most of you have heard how great it is to photograph on overcast days.  The reasons are that the light is diffused, and there are virtually no shadows.  Plus the colors tend to be more saturated, especially if there has been rain showers.  In this case we are not talking about saturated with wetness, but more vibrancy in the colors.

Black-crested Titmouse

Such were the conditions Tuesday morning.  There was no rain falling in the area but it was heavily clouded.  I waited until late morning, around 11:00, to go out to the bird blind at San Angelo State Park.  During bright sunny days, this blind is not the greatest for photography at this time of day.  Mainly because of the direction in which the blind faces.  But this day, it wouldn’t have mattered which way it faced.  It was perfect lighting from any direction.

Pyrrhuloxia peeking through branches

I couldn’t believe my good fortune when arriving there.  As you can see from the photos, the light is perfect.  There was no feed in the feeders, but I took care of that and put out enough to satisfy the birds that were still hanging around.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

I set up my Bogen-Manfrotto tripod with the Wimberley gimball head.  On that I mounted my Canon EOS 7D and Canon f4 500mm lens.  I had no need for the 1.4 converter at the blind.  I also had my 100-400mm lens with me, but found no need to use it during this shooting session.

I was quite comfortable sitting and shooting from an open window.  I had a few munchies and a bottle of Gatorade with me so I was content to just sit and watch for a few photo ops for over an hour.

Anyway, in conclusion, unless you are specifically looking for blue skies and puffy white clouds, get out there with your camera on those dreary days.  You will surprise yourself with your results.

Photo data, all aperture priority and center-weighted metering:

Black-crested Titmouse:  1/640 sec @ f7.1, -0.3EV, ISO 160.

Pyrrhuloxia:  1/800 sec @f7.1, -0.3EV,  ISO 400.

Yellow-rumped Warbler:  1/640 sec @ f7.1, -0.3EV, ISO 400.

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40 thoughts on “Shooting in Overcast Light

  1. Titmouse has always been my favorite! Cutest of all. I loved these, Bob. And great information too. Clearly the lighting is perfect! 🙂

  2. Bob the blind and some snacks sound awesome. Does the bird blind ever get crowded? I think I’d chat all the wildlife away of there were other folks there! xo

    • Melissa, I had the snacks in my car. 🙂 No, the blind doesn’t get crowded, and that’s a shame. There aren’t enough people that know about it, but the few that do, are dedicated birders or photographers. If you were there with me, I would keep you quiet, chuckle. 🙂 xo

  3. Wonderful Bob! You are so right to get out there on those dreary days. I think I find more to shoot on those days as well. Plus, dreary days make for interesting lighting… not ideal for most, but I love the low lit shots. Bravo! Those birds are beautiful!

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more, Bob. The diffused light is awesome to work with in general, but in that blind it makes the place sing. One more crested bird and you could have had the trifecta, but it is nice to see the honey butt in the mix. Seems like that one is a reasonably new addition to the blind. Good shooting…

  5. Bob,

    I agree with you so much about the vibrancy of colors on an overcast day, they can be quite stunning. I also like slightly overcast days for photography. Beautiful images, as always!

  6. Another winner Bob. you are so right, overcast days have a plus advantage. Some of my best art work on birds and flowers are done on the natural Brazilian Agate which is gray and tan. Each one of your photos has its own merit..I do love the titmouse as we have the Juniper Titmouse here. I am not familiar with the Pyrrhuloxia, but what a handsome bird he is. Warblers are a world of their own with their sweet songs. Thanks again for sharing..made my day…

  7. Thanks for the info about lighting on cloudy days. Your shots show off the effects you are speaking of. The brilliant colors of the birds really pop! Learning a lot from reading your posts Bob. Thanks!

  8. The Pyrrhuloxia in your second photo reminded me of a Cardinal (on steroids!). When I looked it up I found out it is related to the Northern Cardinal. Somehow, in your photo, this fellow gives the impression that he doesn’t fear much out there in the desert. I think it’s the heavy beak and the pattern around his eye. Lovely as always. I think I need to go to the nearest nature preserve on the next overcast day and try this out. That is, the next overcast day when the lightning bolts are minimal and I have no fear of ending up in OZ! 😉 ~ Lynda

    • The Pyrrhuloxia is very similar in appearance to the female Northern Cardinal. I know what you mean about the lightning. We generally have a lot of thunderstorms here and me and my cameras stay indoors then. 🙂 Thanks for the great comment, Lynda. 🙂

  9. I understand what you mean about sitting and waiting for a shot, minus the munchies and drinks, that is one of my favourite parts of the day, waiting for the shot on a rock in the sun.. c

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