Old 10-01-2008, 01:22 PM   #1
Chris Z
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Default Why no cloudy shots?

Why are cloudy shots considered bad? They are a bit more of a challenge. I try different shots like that and they get rejected. I guess I will no longer submit things like that, but I do find them interesting. Here is one of the rejected pics.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...d=582298&key=0

Thanks for any input.

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Old 10-01-2008, 01:31 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Z
Why are cloudy shots considered bad?
Because the identical picture taken in sunny conditions just looks a whole lot better. That is, if the cloudy shot is a common ordinary composition with lots of visible sky.

Photography is, to a large extent, about interesting light (or the absence of). Cloudy day wedgies have none of that.

Quote:
I do find them interesting.
Ah, that's the rub! So, back at ya, why do you find cloudy day shots interesting? For example, your rejected shot has a large expanse of dull off-white that, to my eye and I suspect to many eyes, detracts from the image. Do you find that not to be the case, or is there something about those conditions that trumps that? (In the latter case, one approach is to minimize the extent of dull sky visible in the shot.)
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Old 10-01-2008, 01:32 PM   #3
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Cloudy shots are just something RP prefers not to accept...usually. There are exceptions though.

For your shot though, the clouds don't enhance the scene at all. The sky is blown out and the boost in saturation is not enough to offset the dominance of the white washed out sky.

I'm guessing someone will chime in here about "all light is good light," but for RP purposes, standard shots like this are best served without the clouds...
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Old 10-01-2008, 01:38 PM   #4
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You have an interesting question. My thinking is that the light on cloudy days can be some of the BEST light of all! It's soft and shadowless, meaning you can take photos that you just can't on a sunny day. I don't know if RP accepts cloudy day shots all that often or not--maybe someone else keeps up on that and can weigh in. I will say this though. Too many people try to take the same kinds of shots on a cloudy day that they do on a sunny one, and that normally just doesn't work. Your shot is an example of that. Few people would find the blinding white sky very attractive. You could probably convert it to b&w and work on the tones, but that would be a lot of trouble and I'm not sure the basic compostion is worth it.

On sunny days, shots with blue sky will work. That same kind of shot will generally not work on an overcast day. It will defiinitely work on days that have very dramatic storm clouds though. For sky conditions like you had, a strategy that works is to decrease the amount of sky in the shot or even eliminate it. Can't do that on your shot, but if you were to find a high vantage point and shoot down, that's the idea I'm getting at.

Another idea is to use the light for close up shots or people shots. The soft light is excellent for portraits! Here's a shot I made last July of a cable car operator on a typical overcast San Francisco day. On a bright sunny day this shot might have been tougher because there could have been more contrast in the scene. Shot with the superb new Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lens, my new favorite!

All light is good for specific kinds of shots. The trick is to learn to match the light to the type of shot. I encourage you to keep trying. It's how you grow as a photographer.


Kent in SD

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Old 10-01-2008, 03:03 PM   #5
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You can pull a cloudy shot off easily if you can compose it nicely, meaning not a wedgie and/or including some pretty interesting "stuff" in the shot, an example comes to mind in one of AB2's shots:

Image © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
PhotoID: 227163
Photograph © Andrew Blaszczyk (2)



Very nice Autumn scene, you can tell it's cloudy but there isn't much sky to tell since the scene was supposed to be set up in the woods where most of the sky is blocked by trees. If you're brave enough, and it's kind of late now depending where you live, right before a storm find some trains. Stormy cloud shots can be pulled off quite nicely. There's a few of Travis' shots I love:

Image © Travis Dewitz
PhotoID: 242560
Photograph © Travis Dewitz



Light is the key factor, but you can pull a nice cloudy shot off if you expand your composition quality a little bit and try to stay away from the "norm" wedgies. Good luck!

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Old 10-01-2008, 03:37 PM   #6
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Sometimes it is great to have clouds or fog as shown in the two photos below.

This angle is almost impossible to get a decent photo at unless it is a cloudy day.

Image © WalterS - www.scriptunasimages.smugmug.com
PhotoID: 240320
Photograph © WalterS - www.scriptunasimages.smugmug.com


How about with rain and clouds!

Image © WalterS
PhotoID: 236205
Photograph © WalterS

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Old 10-01-2008, 04:24 PM   #7
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I feel that they do go overboard with the cloudy rejection, but when it's a wedge shot with a large expanse of blown-out sky, I'll side with them. For instance, I like this shot because of the depth of colours and all the texture. They don't like it because it's cloudy. I guess they'll only accept cloudy shots when they're HDR
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Old 10-01-2008, 04:31 PM   #8
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That is quite a nice array of texture, thanks for sharing that one!


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Old 10-01-2008, 04:49 PM   #9
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Echoing what's been said here already, cloudy is by its nature always harder... and a dreary day basically eliminates one's ability to simply go out and point the camera at the train and get into the data base (something I'll admit I myself have done on some sunny days).

But if you are going to try on a cloudy, overcast day, rule number one is do not aim your camera at the flat grey, blown out, sky. Keep it out of the frame. If there is cloud texture and a lot of differentiation in the tone of the clouds, sure, show that... but if it looks like a grey wall, don't point at it.

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Old 10-01-2008, 05:10 PM   #10
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If you want to have a decent chance at some cloudy day shots you need clouds with some texture. A flat white textureless cloud or blown out clouds don't cut it.
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Old 10-01-2008, 05:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trainboysd40
For instance, I like this shot because of the depth of colours and all the texture. They don't like it because it's cloudy. I guess they'll only accept cloudy shots when they're HDR
I don't see this particular shot as you do. The textures will be there whether it is cloudy or instead you have dawn/dusk light, as will the color. I find the shot a bit on the dead side; not enough low light "mood" for me so just a dull cloudy day shot with nice composition. I look forward to seeing a second attempt.
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:13 PM   #12
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I thought that I didn't have any cloudy shots on RP (other than winter shots), but I double checked and found these two:

Image © Mike Lockwood
PhotoID: 239929
Photograph © Mike Lockwood


Image © Mike Lockwood
PhotoID: 245917
Photograph © Mike Lockwood


As said before, you really have to have an interesting composition to get a shot in... not a regular wedge shot. Personally, I think average cloudy day shot just don't draw the eye like a nice, sunny shot. They are good days to shoot angles that would never get good light, though submitting a shot with the rider "angle never gets direct sun at anytime of the year" might not grease the wheels enough to get in.
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Old 10-01-2008, 06:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lock4244
Personally, I think average cloudy day shot just don't draw the eye like a nice, sunny shot. They are good days to shoot angles that would never get good light, though submitting a shot with the rider "angle never gets direct sun at anytime of the year" might not grease the wheels enough to get in.


EXACTLY! Especially after this time of year, around the end of november/start of December where after the leaves fall of the trees, up here in the north at least, and everything looks, as I call it, "blah". There's a reason why we say during the summer months to shoot during the morning or evening. Not only because of the angle but because of a very important element in photography itself, color. The sun gives everything color. Yea there's color when there's clouds, but it's very diffused and is not as "popping" as a sunny day.

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Old 10-01-2008, 07:15 PM   #14
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Found one more of mine:

Image © Mike Lockwood
PhotoID: 183205
Photograph © Mike Lockwood


Winter yes, but I think this one got in for the composition, certainly not for the snow.

And one more:

Image © Mike Lockwood
PhotoID: 188746
Photograph © Mike Lockwood


Shooting on cloudy days generally sucks, but can vield some surprising results if you can envoke a sombre mood in the shot. I recall a shot of stored Chessie GP's taken during the recession of the early 1980's (can't remember the photographer), possibly published in Trains. Taken on a gloomy, overcast day, combined with the subject matter and the hard times, it was almost poetic. I bet RP would have rejected it, but for an article on the recession... perfect.
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Old 10-01-2008, 09:43 PM   #15
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Here is another reject from the same location.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...&key=496929989

I would rather have dull shots while railfanning than have a good day at work. They are shots for my personal collection then. I'm sure sunny days will be here again. Since I'm still a newbie at this it does give me practice for when the sun shines. It was just a mistake submitting these to RP but I still like them. Here is another one taken on that day that has a bit of a personal history.

http://forums.railpictures.net/attac...tid=3392&stc=1

The abandoned track led to a rock quarry. When I was a teenager, a train leaving Proviso yard, with ore cars and a GP7 on the front stopped on the tracks in front of three of us railfans. The engineer asked if we were railfans and were interested in a cab ride. We all shouted YES. We vere in the cab in no time and had a very memorable experience. Unthinkable by today's standards.

Kent has made some important points on lighting on cloudy days. I have taken a similar shot of my first one posted and the vegetation almost comes out black. One thing that has been floating around in my head is to take two shots. One over and one underexposed and merge them into HDR. I haven't tried anything like that but it has caught my attention on this forum.

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Old 10-01-2008, 09:49 PM   #16
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Good thinking, it's practice for a sunny day. You got better with that photo tho, including some more UP freights instead of a standard wedgie of one. Nice composition. RP isn't saying that they are bad shots, RP just doesn't accept standard cloudy shots. I think they should take out the "common power" wording though. Should just read:


- Poor lighting (Cloudy): Common angle cloudy day shots of common/standard power are generally not accepted.




Good luck!

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Old 10-01-2008, 10:07 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Z
One thing that has been floating around in my head is to take two shots. One over and one underexposed and merge them into HDR.
That isn't going to help. HDR is for cases when there is too much dynamic range between light and dark - when the bright is so much brighter than the dark that the camera has trouble capturing it. The problem with images like the one here is that the sky is too bland and uninteresting and the shot becomes blah. Changing brightness levels in parts of the image does not fix that.

Even if you replace the sky with a blue one, you still have the problem with the light in the rest of the shot being bland. And worse, the sky no longer matches the rest and it looks fake.

Not much you can do about shooting average wedgies on overcast days. You have to hide the sky or do something else. If it is raining, you have to do something to emphasize the rain, emphasize wet surfaces, catch the drops coming down, find puddles, etc.
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Old 10-01-2008, 10:11 PM   #18
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There's been a lot of discussion about HDR, but I thought I would add to J's response in saying that you'd have to capture a parked train. HDR I would think would be a help with a harshly backlit situation.


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Old 10-01-2008, 10:20 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asis80
There's been a lot of discussion about HDR, but I thought I would add to J's response in saying that you'd have to capture a parked train. HDR I would think would be a help with a harshly backlit situation.




I agree with both you and post immediately before. HDR requires a series of duplicate shots to be superimposed, and that's sorta difficult when the image keeps rapidly changing as the train runs by. Second point is HDR would help to bring the levels down to better show the color in the sky, but in this shot that color is still going to be quite unattractive. If it was a blown out blue sky you might have been on to something.


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Old 10-01-2008, 10:23 PM   #20
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It does not matter for the shot in question, but when shooting raw one can do pseudo-HDR by processing the image twice and then merging the two images in an HDR-like way. That technique is applicable to a moving train. It doesn't allow one to capture as much dynamic range as true HDR, but for some shots it is enough to make the difference.
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Old 10-01-2008, 11:41 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
It does not matter for the shot in question, but when shooting raw one can do pseudo-HDR by processing the image twice and then merging the two images in an HDR-like way. That technique is applicable to a moving train. It doesn't allow one to capture as much dynamic range as true HDR, but for some shots it is enough to make the difference.
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Old 10-02-2008, 01:03 AM   #22
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And i add they have to control bandwidth some how , not letting cloudy shots helps keep the number of shots down. But they don't say it, but think that's why some nice shot don't get on at times.
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Old 10-02-2008, 01:52 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milwman
And i add they have to control bandwidth some how , not letting cloudy shots helps keep the number of shots down. But they don't say it, but think that's why some nice shot don't get on at times.
Good point, Richard.

Chris Z., the difference between a cloudy day shot and a sunny day shot can be quite dramatic. Here are two examples:





And..






The others have already pointed out the issues with the pictures you've posted, so I just wanted to show you examples of the same scene on a cloudy and sunny day.
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Old 10-02-2008, 02:14 AM   #24
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Nice examples, Jim, thoughtful and constructive of you to put them together.
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Old 10-02-2008, 02:32 AM   #25
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Image © Travis Dewitz
PhotoID: 242560
Photograph © Travis Dewitz



When you say cloudy shot that is what comes to my mind, a lot of the others is like shooting against a bright white background. Just my 2 cents from the peanut gallery.
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