Street Photography on Cloudy Days (flat light + longer focal lengths)

Do you struggle with capturing great street photography on cloudy days? Many photographers find it challenging to work with flat light and longer focal lengths. However, there are techniques and tips that can help you overcome these obstacles and still capture stunning images. In this blog, we will explore the art of street photography on cloudy days, and how to make the most of the lighting and focal length to create compelling and impactful shots. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, these tips will help you take your street photography to the next level, even on overcast days. Let’s dive in and discover the beauty of cloudy day street photography.

Street Photography on Cloudy Days: flat light + longer focal lengths

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I recently went down to London to see some friends, make some new images, and attend the opening of a new film called Tish, which is a feature-length documentary on the life and work of Tish Merther, whom I’ve talked about before on this channel. It’s not the topic of this video, but I highly recommend checking it out if it’s showing near you. Anyway, I love going back to London to make images, but at this time of year in the UK, we have a lot of overcast days and heavy lead-gray skies, which tend to leach the color out of scenes and kill the contrast. So, on those flat, dull days, the question I ask myself when shooting street photography is how to arrange the elements within the frame to ensure the viewer is focusing on what I intend.

Arranging elements in flat light

When the light is flat, using light and shadow to direct the viewer’s attention may not be an option. So, one alternative is to use longer focal lengths to narrow down the field of view, fill the frame with the subject, and create a shallow depth of field to focus on the subject and blur out unwanted elements in the background.

Challenging yourself with a longer focal length

During my recent trip to London, anticipating flat lighting, I challenged myself to use my 85mm lens with a wide open aperture to create a shallow depth of field and keep the subject sharp while obscuring the background. While I initially felt like it was cheating to ignore the context of the scene, I found that shooting this way allowed me to capture rich details in the subjects, such as skin texture, eye color, and micro-expressions, which added new stories to the images.

Using the camera screen

One practical adjustment I made was to use the camera screen more to shoot both portrait and landscape orientations at a slightly lower angle. This allowed for a less confrontational approach when capturing candid images on the street, similar to using a TLR camera. Additionally, shooting slightly lower seemed to elevate and celebrate the subjects in the frame, creating a more heroic stance.

Psychological impact of shooting angles

Shooting at a lower angle has been observed to have a psychological impact, as it can make the subjects seem more heroic. This shift in perspective may visually elevate and celebrate the subjects in the frame, adding depth and impact to the images. Consider the language we use, such as “looking up to” or “looks down on.” Visually, this idea can also work in our images.

FAQ: Street Photography on Cloudy Days (flat light + longer focal lengths)

Q: Can you still take good street photography on cloudy days?

A: Yes, you can! Cloudy days can provide a soft, diffused light that is great for capturing interesting textures and details. Just be mindful of your exposure settings and look for unique compositions in the flat light.

Q: How do longer focal lengths affect street photography on cloudy days?

A: Longer focal lengths can allow you to capture interesting details and candid moments from a distance without disrupting the scene. This can be especially useful on cloudy days when the softer light allows for a more subdued and intimate atmosphere.

Q: What are some tips for street photography on cloudy days with longer focal lengths?

A: When using longer focal lengths on cloudy days, pay attention to your framing and composition. Look for interesting layers and textures to include in your shot, and be patient in waiting for the right moments to capture. Additionally, consider using a higher ISO to compensate for the lower light levels while maintaining a fast enough shutter speed to avoid motion blur.

I hope you find useful my article Street Photography on Cloudy Days (flat light + longer focal lengths), I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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