Reminiscing About The Importance Of Good Light On A Cloudy Afternoon

Reminiscing About The Importance Of Good Light On A Cloudy Afternoon

I am sitting here on my porch on this very windy, cloudy afternoon. I don’t have to tell you how many photographers hate such conditions, especially when photographing birds. There are, however, some subjects that actually do well in the soft, filtered light from a few clouds but this amount of clouds as well as stiff winds can only cause even the most patient photographer to pack his things and head for home. Light is what photography is all and when we don’t have good light or even enough average light it makes the job of getting a great image pretty hard.

A case in point is the two images I have posted below. One is a very tight crop of the other. It is a species of heron I frequently see on the Bear River Migratory Bird refuge but the species isn’t what’s important but rather the images themselves. I took them on a very sunny bright day where the light was very good. It gave me enough light to work with to capture great color on the bird as well have enough light to open up the aperture to blur the background and foreground, cutting down on the distracting vegetation. Well, almost that is.

I took this image to highlight the head features of this particular heron as the lighting conditions were great. The angle was not, however, as I had to shoot through a bunch of weeds and annoying vegetation. But because of the great light I was able to crop it down quite a bit to get the part of the bird I was hoping for, the head and beak for a type of head study. The image worked out quite well even despite the heavy cropping from the original image. On a cloudy day where I would have to use a much lower shutter speed or a higher ISO setting I would not have been able to get such a crisp, sharp image and the colors would not have been so brilliant either.

This is the result of photographing on days with great light, meaning full sun. Don’t get me wrong, there are many days I go out and photograph on cloudy days and I have gotten some great images but nothing beats photographing on a full sun type of day when the light allows you to play with the camera settings a bit and yet not lose too much light to get the image you want. Always think about light and how much you have when photographing. Photography is about capturing light and it is the most important thing a photographer needs to consider when going out and photographing outdoors. Great images can be had in many different conditions but the best images with regards to color and sharpness usually come from days when the light is in great abundance like it was on this particular day.

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