white sky

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by maria, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. I am encountering repeatedly the problem of white sky when it is cloudy.
    I mean, one cannot have all the time sunny weather and blue sky, and cannot have either beautifully shaped clouds. Sometimes there is just a clouds blanket and the sky is white indeed.
    What to do?
    thank you
  2. The sun is in front of you and is on the other side of the carriage. So your subject is too dark compared with everything else around. The pavement also turned white and the building and the gate are foggy. It would improve a lot if you are on the other side of the carriage
  3. I used to live in the Netherlands, where the sky is white-grey a lot of time during the year.... Usually, it meant not going out for photos. The problem not only being the sky, but it typically also meant the light was just not flattering for anything: flat, white, shadowless, low contrast. So, apart from maybe some outdoor macro, most subjects are not served by it.
    In a way I solved it now, since I know live in the south of Italy - much nicer weather :) But it's not a practical solution for all.
    So, it's choosing subjects with the bad light in mind. I often end up shooting in a city, processing to black and white (or shooting black and white film), because the lack of nice sky hurts a little less that way.
  4. If the sky is completely white, does that not make it really easy to mask it out and replace it with a more interesting sky from a different image? Otherwise, short of not including it in the shot, I'm not sure what you can do. If the clouds are interesting but too bright relative to the rest of the scene, we could be talking about HDR or ND grad filters, but if there's nothing to see in the sky then your choices are replacing it or ignoring it. Or sell it as a stock photo to someone who wants to put writing in the white area. :)
  5. Choose subjects and compositions in such a way that the sky is not part of it.
  6. Well, you can't change the weather but you can try to get the texture of the clouds. However that usually results in a blown-out sky. There are not too many good options for burning-in the sky to capture some texture of clouds, especially if there is a complicated horizon line.
    See http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=66345
  7. Shoot Raw and expose so the cloud's data spike/peak is just to the left of the right side of the histogram wall shown on the camera's LCD. Access it through your camera's menu system.
    You'ld be surprised how much useable shadow detail you can bring out shooting and editing this way. You'll need to gauge your exposure to determine how much overcast clouds go to white. I got lucky on the sample below. Some of the forms of the clouds were maintained but some sections did go to white shooting Raw.
  8. The problem is that the sky is many times brighter than the rest of your photo. You have received several pieces of good advice above for how to handle this.
    • Remove the sky from the composition.
    • Expose so the sky doesn't overwhelm the sensor's limits.
    • Use HDR techniques to combine exposures for both the sky and foregound.
    • Use a graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky at the time of capture.
    • Use flash to lighten foreground objects.
    • Meter on a foreground object and let the sky blow out to achieve a whitewashed background effect.
    Good luck!
  9. Overcast skies are a huge natural softbox. Try shooting portraits in open shade under o'cast skies, you'll probably like the results.
  10. Maria -
    Sometimes you just have to do what you can with what presents itself.
    Below are two imgaes of the same location from different days of the year.
    Hard to believe it's the same place.
    If you don't want to do a lot of post work, then suggested grad filters and careful exposure wiill be a great help. If it's real overcast I do macro and close work, no sky in the shot where possible.
  11. Thank you very much for the helpful responses!
    Well, if I shot buildings, it is possible to remove the sky in some perspectives, but not in all - for example if the building has a tower or some kind of irregularity I want to catch at the roof.
    Indeed, black and white seems to be an option ... I thought myself of it.
    I just thought that there is a solution for the Netherlands sky I read above ...
    Thanks again
  12. Do you use Lightroom? It has a nifty tool where you can mask a region and decrease the exposure for just that region. Photoshop might have that too. Assuming that you shot RAW and that you have at least some grays from the "white" sky, you can decrease the exposure just in the sky to reveal the gray tones and make it more interesting.

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