Cloudy Day Portraiture

There are all kinds of cloudy days, especially this time of year. There are the heavy overcast lighting conditions that produce what I like to call “muddy light.” On those kinds of days it’s difficult but not impossible to create good looking portraits. A little supplemental lighting helps.

On the other hand, there are those cloudy days that back in the heady days of film that Eastman Kodak famously referred to as “cloudy bright” that are the best days for photographing people outdoors because the light scattering through the clouds produce wonderful wraparound lighting that is soft, non-directional and bright enough to keep the subject’s eye sockets unshadowed without having to worry about them squinting or the effects of backlighting. It’s the best of all worlds.


On this particular October day, Mary Farace made the above “cloudy bright” portrait of a photographer’s wife in the front yard of a friend’s home. In a typical cloudy bright setting the subject will be relaxed while soft light wraps around them and leaving their eyes bright with no dark shadows. Exposure was 1/125 sec at f/4 and ISO 200.

At right is the Kodak film data sheet for their Gold 100 and 200 color negative films that are “designed for general picture-taking situations in daylight or with electronic flash.” Notice the different lighting conditions that Kodak mentions, including “cloudy bright” that is the subject of today’s post.

Author: Joe Farace

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