If I lived up north, I’d happily talk your ears off about how spring is coming, how I can’t wait to say goodbye to six months of winter - but I don’t. Summerville is named with good reason - it’s March, and I just jogged in 89 degree weather, yay! My eldest son is turning six tomorrow, and the azaleas are in full bloom today, but I say this with a bit of regret because I do so love the winter.
Well, you know - a Southern winter that rarely goes below 45 degrees at noon.
Cloudy, overcast, BLAND skies are one of my favorite things. Crazy, right? As a photographer, of course I love killer sunsets, especially the ones at Folly Beach and Waterfront Park in Charleston that just set the sky on fire. I have an entire library of sky images that I’ve captured, just because skies are my thing. But one thing that overcast skies do so, so well is make any light hitting you immediately become soft and diffused. Think of them like a set of sheer curtains on a bay window, like I used in this picture of my daughter.
That light, softly touching her face, is gorgeous. And this was taken in my office, which normally has a blast of harsh direct light in the afternoon on a sunny day. Light is EVERYTHING. No squinting, either - she may actually be squinching, and now I’ll have to see if she’s been watching posing tutorials on YouTube to know THAT trick.
Fast forward to a NYC trip I made a week ago. Up there, winter is still in full effect, and I had to break out an actual wool coat for her. It’s a lifestyle image, since I was pretty much hiding in a bush across the street like the paparazzi, so she wouldn’t start posing for me. I wanted THIS moment, where my little Southern Belle was genuinely expressing her opinion of actual northern winter temperatures. It was noon, which would normally have her squinting with a cheese smile, and hard shadows, and too much contrast - not what my artistic side really enjoys. Sunset photoshoots are ideal for a reason, and I will always encourage my clients to have their family sessions right before the golden hour. However, since I had this glorious-yet-bland slightly overcast sky, and happened to bring my daughter to this playground that sat right next to the Hudson River, I captured this. Because life can’t always wait for sunset to come around.
Bam. I’m normally not a fan of monochromatic winter colors unless we’re talking fresh snow with bright pops of color, so after a bit of digital painting with my drawing tablet when we got home, this winter sky is no longer “blah” and will likely be printed on my lab’s Hahnemuhle watercolor paper and up on my wall within the next few weeks. The sky became a canvas - goodbye gray, hello soft colors that complement the scenery!
So with spring arriving in a few more days, I say embrace the inevitable overcast days. We have them in the winter, and you know we’ll have them in the spring (yay, five minute thunderstorms and downpours!). Color can be found (and yes, enhanced) everywhere, and for me, those skies are perfection as a canvas.
Oh, and I forgot to mention - if we’re talking about posed portraiture, using off-camera lighting on overcast days will add that little extra bit of drama and pop. I plan on covering this in the upcoming weeks, so please check back, and also visit me elsewhere on: