How do you solve a problem like dull overcast?

You are on vacation, and you want some fabulous photos of your trip (to make everyone at work jealous….oh, and precious family memories), but the sky is a dull, dreary, weary, overcast meh. It’s not a moody mystical fog or darkly lit storm clouds. It’s just blah.

Dull white/light grey overcast sky on a winter day.

You can’t come back to this same place every day to get the perfect sky; you are far from home and have to return to work in a week. Maybe you will come back one day, but you don’t know that all you have is this day, and it’s been cursed by Seth/Loki/Adad/Perun/insert your local mythical deity. What do you do???

There are a couple of options when this happens, but first, go ahead and take the photo; you might be able to do something with it later. Or get a friend who is great at photoshop to replaces that sky.

Step one, get close. If you are visiting, gardens get in close on those flowers. In a zoo, get up close and in that cage…oh no, wait, don’t get in there with the animals; just zoom. Are you looking at a city skyline, zoom in on one of the buildings. By zooming in, you are removing some or all of that lackluster sky.

Step two, move your feet. Walk around; don’t stay in the same spot, go left then go right, crouch down, or if you can, get to a higher location. It sounds cheesy, but a slight change can greatly impact your viewpoint. The first photo was my starting point of view; I moved to the left and zoomed in on some trees.

Close up on trees with an overcast sky.

Step 3, edit. I took my tree shot, cropped out the horizon and buildings, and then made it black and white. This is how you can go from the first photo to something more interesting to look at (below) but wait; there’s more.

You can also do a Gradient Fill or Gradient Map on your photo to give it bright light and colors. I use PhotoScape X (please note they do not pay me; I just love the app); it’s an App you can buy on Apple’s App Store for $39.99, but some other programs/apps can do the same thing.

gradient fill is a graphical effect that produces a three-dimensional color look by blending one color into another. Multiple colors can be used, where one color gradually fades and changes to the other color, such as the one below.

A Blue, Purple, and Red Gradient Filter was added to my tree close-up.

Gradient maps are a tool that creates a new adjustment layer that chooses a new color for each pixel of a certain value. The darkest areas of your gradient replace the shadows, and below of your image, the middle replaces your general exposure, and the end replaces your highlights. In other words, it replaces the colors in your photo with the colors of your choosing.

Yellow, Brown, and Orange Gradient Map effect added to a tree close-up photo.
Yellow, Red, and Hot Pink Gradient Map effect added to a tree close-up photo.

And now you know what to do with overcast skies, and knowing is half the battle.

Does anyone know what the other half is, asking for a friend?

Published by JMP traveler

I’m a world traveler and an amateur photographer, to date, I've visited seven continents and thirty-four countries. Due to bills (and a desire to eat), I am forced to work a mundane nine-to-five job to pay for my true passion. This blog is a way for me to share my crazy creative side, my travel photos with cheeky stories, travel tips, or details on how the photo was taken. Come join me as we travel the world together, without having to leave the house or get out of your PJs.

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