You hear it all the time. People making excuses not to go shooting because of a certain kind of light or weather condition. In the end, however, that’s all they are: excuses. At its simplest terminology, photography is the art of capturing light. The word itself is Greek and breaks down into "drawing with light." So when someone says "you can’t shoot in that kind of light," they’ve either never tried it because that’s what others have told them, or they’re just not very creative. If photography is the art of capturing light, then there is always good light because there is always light! It doesn’t matter if it’s overcast, middle of the day, middle of the night, etc. There’s always some kind of light, therefore there are always good shots to be found. Your creativity depends on if you succeed in times or not.
The weather the other day was overcast in Grand Teton National Park, and while most photographers would have looked out the window and said “blah,” I headed out with the intent to find a good photo. Overcast weather is a great time to shoot because that gives you the opportunity to add on a neutral density filter and get some longer exposures you couldn’t normally do since the clouds are filtering much of the sun’s light. In addition to that, the longer the exposure you take, the richer and bolder your colors come out since the camera is, in a sense, absorbing those colors for longer periods of time. It’s the same effect if you do a long exposure on a clear, night sky or the Aurora Borealis, for example. Respectively, you’ll see more stars than your eyes are showing you and the northern lights will appear brighter than you’re actually seeing them. If there’s any kind of breeze, you also get a surreal effect as plants move back and forth and get recorded anywhere they go. All these effects I was able to put into play in just a simple photo of a fall cottonwood tree found on Antelope Flats in Grand Teton National Park. Even in the clouds themselves, the sun was hitting them in a such a way that a strong and vivid blue was creating the ideal background to such bright yellows and oranges.
It was such a simple shot, yet thanks to the overcast weather and a neutral density filter, I was able to give it a more surreal and interesting look.