Cloudy Skies and Shade for Floral Photography

Do you ever go for an inspirational walk to take great outdoor photos only to come home and find most of the photos are pale, washed out, or full of glare? Your flower photos look faded and almost lifeless? I understand how that feels. At least for me, it is almost depressing to come home and have 200 photos that I can’t use because the sun was too strong and those beautiful bright flowers turned into dull photos. At least with a digital camera you do not waste film.

floral photography

“More pretty colours…” captured by Linda L

Most likely you took those photos on a bright “cheerful” sunny day. While you might enjoy a walk in the sun working on your tan, your photography will need more work because of it. Even on a sunny day there is hope. You might find that some large trees or taller buildings cast shade and shadow. Do not forget that shadows from tall objects change as the day goes by. Check those places for things of wonder to photograph. Many people plant and forget flowers and they frequently survive better in those less noticed places where there is less competition from grass. You might have some short flowers under shrubs or even other taller plants.

A partly or mostly cloudy day is wonderful for taking floral photos. The colors will stay strong and you won’t have to worry about shadows being harsh. A strong shadow is great for still life artwork, but a strong shadow is not so great for outdoor flowers.

The perfect time for going outside to take photos of flowers and almost anything else by the street is after a good rain. The leaves and petals will be dust free and water drops left after the rain can be very attractive on a close up or macro shot. Double flowers on long stems might get a little heavy so you might have to go back later for those images. If you go out after the rain stops be sure to bring a plastic or waterproof bag for your camera and wear a jacket with a hood in case it starts raining again.

cloudy flower photo

“Shores of Dublin” captured by Raluca Mateescu

Finally if all else fails, try going by the flowers you want to photograph in the early morning or late afternoon to see if you can get better lighting. At least you got some exercise and fresh air.

About the Author
Christopher Johnson is a visual artist who works in photography, photo-manipulation, computer generated art, oil painting, acrylic painting, portraits, etc. He has been selling fine art online since 2007 and is available for art commissions and licensing. His favorite subject is flower and nature art and he enjoys creating digital portraits. Visit his Painting Lessons and Photography Lessons on his art website or go to the homepage to see his new artwork posts.

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One response to “Cloudy Skies and Shade for Floral Photography”

  1. Kasey Kitterman says:

    As a man of stark contrasts, I try to maintain that in my photography. Also, as a late riser and slow starter, afternoon lighting, often defeats my efforts. For anybody that might read this non- experts opinion; the best lenses, to me, have the most contrast. Photos taken with simple plastic lens cameras, can benefit mightily, from some computer “helping”. The free stuff bundled with a PC, or for free download is very good. Still, as the article suggests, highlights from overhead illumination, are pretty hard to correct. Highlights steal the substance of the image. Ask me how I know.
    Cloudy, and/or rainy days are a help, but often software is even better. It’s the same thing, more patient film photographers did in the darkroom. Easily overdone, software can save, elevate, and give new expression to photographs. Never been as happy with B&W effects, but color photography can soar. IMHO.

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