How to Make the Most of Overcast Days in Landscape Photography

Landscape photography can be discouraging when the sky is overcast with no chance of dynamic light or beautiful sunset colors. Luckily, overcast weather is actually ideal for certain types of landscape photography if you are willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Check out this video to see how you can create beautiful images even when the weather is gloomy. 

In this video, we join Michael Shainblum as he spends the day exploring a local beach to see if he can make the best of the overcast weather. As landscape photographers, we tend to look for colorful sunsets and sunrises or dramatic mood and atmosphere.

When the sky is overcast, however, the effect can be anything but inspiring. The good news is that overcast days provide very flat, even light, which is actually the ideal lighting for up-close landscape photography, such as intimate, abstract, and macro images.

Before you head out, make sure that you are prepared for this type of shooting. I prefer to use mid-length telephoto lenses, which allow me to get a close-up view without the distortion of a wide angle lens. Be aware that the longer focal lengths in combination with the overcast lighting may require the use of a tripod if you want to avoid shooting at higher ISOs, as handheld shooting will require a faster shutter speed, and it may be too dark. If critical sharpness is a concern for you, you will need to pay close attention to your depth of field, which will be quite shallow when working with a telephoto lens at close distances. I often choose to focus stack this style of intimate image to ensure sharpness across the frame. 

If you are interested in learning more about focus stacking, check out How to Focus Stack for Perfect Sharpness From Start to Finish: Part One

All images used with permission and courtesy of Michael Shainblum.

Devin is a landscape photographer based in the western United States. He enjoys capturing images of mountains, forests, waterfalls, deserts and seascapes. His passion for landscape photography extends to post processing and education. He offers live feedback and instruction for Lightroom and Photoshop via his website.

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