We Simplify The Technical!

Joe Fitzpatrick gives us insights and ideas about what to photograph when the sky doesn’t cooperate.


Please scroll down for show notes.

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Understand Photography General Notes


Upcoming Trips:
Evergaldes 4 day Photo Adventure – January 31 – February 3, 2019 Only 2 openings left!!
St. Augustine – April 11-14, 2019
Florida’s Forgotten Coast – May 13-17,  2019
Ladies Only Trips:
Mt. Dora – December 5-7, 2018
Cuba – February 2 – 9, 2019

Check our Meetup site for more information.

New Book!  Peggy Farren and Joe Fitzpatrick have published a book highlighting Florida’s best photo spots!

Florida Photo Spots: Naples and Collier County by [Farren, Peggy, Fitzpatrick, Joe]

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August 10th is our 100th Episode!

The Understand Photography Show will be featuring Bird Photography Specialist Artie Morris.  We will have a LIVE Q&A session!  You can send in your questions ahead of time to be sure they are answered via [email protected]

Landscape Photography When the Sky Doesn’t Cooperate
Episode 95 with Joe Fitzpatrick

“A dead, flat white sky gives no interest to the image whether in color or black and white.”

How and What to Photograph When the Sky is Gray

  • Try not to get the sky in the shot.

       – Focus lower – use a mid-range or telephoto lens, isolate a tree, stream, or road and cut in to get rid of the sky.

      – Rethink the subject – focus on something more interesting.

     – Try a higher vantage point and shoot down on the scene.

     – If shooting reflections, add interest to the water with droplets, ripples, or other disturbances.

– Long exposures won’t need as many neutral density filters.  Shooting streams and waterfalls in this light will give soft, silky smooth water without bright spots or dappled reflections coming through the tree canopy.

           Fantastic for flowers and macro work.  It creates a diffuse, even light and gives desaturated colors more punch.

           Less dynamic range – you get more details in the shadows and highlights.

           Better light for portraits – although you still need a reflector or flash for under eye shadows.

           This is also a good time for perched bird photos.

  • Cityscapes – bright skies create a wide dynamic range that leaves one side of the street in deep shadow while the other is bright.  Gray skies lessen the dynamic range and allow for more even lighting on both sides of the street.

It’s raining!  What do I shoot now?
There are plenty of opportunities for great pictures indoors.

  • Botanical Gardens and Conservatories may have a greenhouse – out of the rain and diffuse light. (Phipp’s Conservatory, Pittsburgh)
  • Tabletop Photography – get creative with still life compositions! (Search the web for lots of new ideas.)

“Photography is about mastering and controlling the light on your subject.”

When It’s Extremely Bright and Sunny

  • Use a circular polarizing filter. 
    • *variable polarizing filters do not work well – your better option is a 3-stop or 6-stop filter
    • Using a polarizer with a wide angle lens may create a vignette effect on the edges.
  • Bracket your image – 3 shots, 2 stops apart (+2, 0, -2) will get detail from deep shaded areas as well as very bright areas. Blend the three images together with Photoshop or Lightroom.
  • Neutral Density Filters can be stacked to reduce the light coming onto the camera.  A polarizing filter can be stacked with them – put it on LAST so you can turn/adjust it.
  • Shoot in the shade!
    • Focus on a smaller subject – macro.
    • Use a scrim or collapsible reflector to shade your subject.



  • Capturing lightning in a photograph can be difficult. It’s easier with a Lightning Trigger – a device that removes the guesswork, luck and reaction time lag.  The sensor detects the “pre-flash” and triggers the camera in time to catch the lightning strike.
  • Time exposure – better in the evening or at night to capture the brightness of the strike without overexposing the surroundings.
  • Shoot with short bursts – hope to time it close and get lucky.  
  • How To Photograph Lightning

What Else Could I Do When the Weather is Lousy?

  • This is a good time to scout locations for when the sky is cooperating.
  • Great Apps for planning when the light is right:
    • Sun Surveyor
    • The Photographer’s Ephemeris
    • Photo Pills



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