Recently we planned a family vacation in Vietnam as a nice break from the cold of Shanghai. It was 24ºc (75ºf) in Hanoi so we booked the tickets and suffered through a few more weeks of the big chill. Suddenly the holiday was here so we dusted off the swimsuits and threw our t-shirts and shorts into the... Holy Crap 12ºc! For once planning ahead was not a good idea. We were booked during a rare and short lived cold spell in Hanoi. I mean that literally. A few days after we got back the temperature returned to 24ºc.
I had some nice photos for our holidays planned and my wife and daughters had some beautiful dresses arranged and colour coordinated but that was all replaced by chunky sweaters, scarves and wholly hats. So how do you take any family snaps while on an overcast vacation? Here are some tips on how to still bring home some memories in inclement weather.
The worst thing about vacation photos in dull weather is the sky. A stormy or rainy sky can work great but there is nothing you can do about a blanket white overcast sky. Everything will look dull no matter what you do and it can’t be ‘fixed’ in Photoshop. So don’t shoot the sky. Aim your camera downwards to exclude or minimise it and concentrate on your family and the environment.
Don’t shoot wide
Keep your compositions tight and concentrate on your subject with a little bit of environment. Stay away from that wide angle lens.
Find interesting enclosed locations
Seek out parks or city locations where the sky in not really visible anyway and you don’t have to worry.
Another element of the dull weather is the ‘flat’ lighting that envelopes everything. This is most evident in colours as they are lifeless and lack contrast. No, don’t boost the saturation in Lightroom, that will look overdone and artificial. Either desaturate the colours to embrace the natural look or even better go B&W. Black and White looks great in any type of lighting.
Unless you’re in a beautiful snowscape or a wonderful windy Autumn afternoon no one is going to look to comfortable wrapped up in coats and scarves. So if you find a great location or the weather briefly picks up, even for a few minutes, momentarily ditch the heavy protection for some more relaxed photos.