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Lighting Basics: Cloudy and Shade Cheat Sheet

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  • Cloudy days provide gorgeous even light almost anytime of day and any location.

  • Beware of dull gray skies. Cloudy days give you lots of gray sky that isn’t very interesting in photos. Keep the sky out of photos and take advantage of other beautiful backgrounds you might not otherwise get the most from on a super-sunny day.

  • As a total contradiction, the exception to the above is stormy skies. They can be interesting and dramatic!

  • Watch your shutter speed and make sure it doesn’t get too slow. With limited light on overcast or stormy days, this can be a problem.


  • Shade is beautiful even light, too. On a sunny day, a spot of shade can provide beautiful light and a bit of variety.

  • When photographing in the shade, place your subject fairly close to the edge of the shade so they are looking out toward an area of sunlight. This will help keep catchlights in the eyes.

  • Avoid the shade from trees, which is generally splotchy with bright areas in random places. It is distracting in photos to have bright patches falling on your subject.

  • The light in shady areas tends to be blue in color. Adjust your white balance to the shade or cloudy setting to fix this.

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