.Cloud Cover | Chroma Key Software Cloud Cover

postheadericon Cloud Cover

Clouds are the most visible component of weather and in outdoor photography they are by far the most important controlling factors in daylight, creating an enormous variety of effects.

 

Clouds diffuse daylight, softening scenes and reducing shadows. To make a comparison with a studio, they act as variable diffusers and as reflectors at the same time. Depending on their thickness, texture, extent, height, how they are arranged in layers, and their movement at different speeds, the permutations of cloud conditions are infinite. The simplest situation is when the cloud cover is continuous. Overcast skies just diffuse the light, and if they are sufficiently dense that there is no path of brightness to show the position of the sun, the light is as soft and shadowless as it ever can be.

 

Medium-to-heavy overcast skies have a reputation for bringing dullness to a scene, and to an extent this is true. Light comes more or less evenly from the entire sky, so the only shadows are those caused by objects being close to each other; this lack of shadow reduces modeling, perspective, and texture. Objects appear to have less substantial form, and large-scale views appear flat. There is virtually no modulation of light, and the even illumination in all directions makes conditions less interesting, with none of the lighting surprises that occur when shooting in changing weather.

 

The value of shadowless, overcast lighting is in its efficiency rather than in its evocative qualities. It helps to clarify images. Much depends on what you see as the purpose of the shot. If the photograph has to remain faithful to the physical, plastic qualities of the subject, then this even lighting may be valuable. Clarity in the image takes precedence over more expressive qualities.

 

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