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Sometimes rainy and gray weather seems like the last thing you’d want to photograph but don’t let that stop you from going out to capture amazing photos in Southwest Michigan. Sometimes the best photos are taken on a cloudy day. Here are ten things to consider on a cloudy or rainy day:

  1. It is a great day for portraits
    One of the best things about cloudy days is the wonderful diffused light– it is perfect for portrait photography. When taking individual portraits or wedding photos I am always delighted to see a weather forecast that includes clouds. The reason is that the clouds work like a massive softbox and reduce bright highlights and soften harsh shadows. Of course, a blue sky and lovely sunset make stunning images but when it comes to getting well-lit photos of people, clouds can not be beat.
  2. Joshua Nowicki Lake Michigan CloudsEnjoy the types of clouds
    Be sure to enjoy and photograph the variety of clouds. There are so many different types, from ones that look flat and gray to fluffy clouds that look like cotton candy to dramatic fear-inspiring storm clouds. 
  3. Long exposures
    Long exposure photography using a neutral density filter or at night can result in very dramatic images showing the movement of the clouds.
  4. Time-lapse
    Many cameras have a built in intervalometer, if not, the simple ones are pretty inexpensive. Use this tool to take a consistently timed series of photos and then assemble into a short video. When you are watching the sky, it is often hard to appreciate how much the clouds move and change. The result of condensing minutes into seconds or hours into minutes can be fascinating.
  5. Light breaking through the clouds
    Look for rays of light breaking through the clouds. It can create a great highlight or backlight for a subject. Additionally, look for where these rays of light are falling. Capturing a scene lit only with a defined ray of light can bring that subject to the forefront of attention in the image. 
  6. Rainbow Over Saint Joseph, MI photo by Joshua NowickiThere might be a sunset
    Sometimes when there is just a tiny opening on the horizon at the end of the day an extremely dramatic and colorful sunset can result. Some of the most amazing sunset photos I have taken have occurred on days when I did not expect to see the sunlight at all. It is all about being there to see it if it occurs.
  7. Rainbows
    Rainbows are always a pleasure to see and photograph. Look for a subject - either a person, tree, or structure - to include in the photo.
  8. Fog or mist
    When there is mist or fog, it is a wonderful opportunity for creating ethereal, spooky and mysterious scenes. I take a lot of photos of the lighthouse and I love taking photos of it in the fog. The way the rays shine through the fog and illuminate the location of the entrance to the channel captures the essence of the original purpose of the light perfectly. 
  9. Fun with reflections
    I delight in finding puddles of water to take reflection photos. The glassy mirror-like surface of a puddle can be a lot of fun to work with to create an eye-catching image. 
  10. Water droplets at sunset photo by Joshua NowickiDroplets of water
    Sometimes I like to shoot through droplets of water on glass, such as the windshield of a car or window of a building. At times I focus on the drops of water and try to capture the color of the background scene in them or reflections in the droplets. Other times I focus past the water on the glass and use it as a bit of distortion in the image. Droplets of water on flowers and leaves also make interesting images.

Here are a few additional tips for rainy days:

  • Bring an umbrella.
  • Buy a rain cover for your camera.
  • Wait in the car and stay dry until the perfect moment arrives, such as a rainbow, sunset or break in the clouds.

Great photo opportunities exist in Southwest Michigan in any weather. Share your cloudy day photos with us using #swmichigan.

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