Cloudy Day Portraiture

“I’ve never taken a photograph of someone and created a persona, I’ve just discovered what was already there.” ― Anthony Farrimond

There are all kinds of cloudy days, especially this time of year when there is always a threat (but never the rain) of a thundershower late in the afternoon. Then there are the heavy overcast lighting conditions that produce what I like to call “muddy light” that I seldom encounter in Colorado but used to all the time when I lived on the east coast. On those kinds of days it’s challenging 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 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.

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.


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.

Available Light Glamour Photography


Joe Farace’s book “Available Light Glamour Photography” is available from Amazon with some of their associate vendors (non-Prime) selling new copies of the book for just $9.99 plus shipping.

Author: Joe Farace

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