Overcast Versus Sunny: photographing the garden

The general rule for photographing the garden is to pick an overcast day or places in the garden where there is even subdued lighting. This helps prevent colors from being washed out. A good source of tips on the subject can be found in the article garden photography 101, with ken druse. Ken Druse has authored many books on gardening for which he is the photographer.

But, there are times to break the rules. The high contrast of strong sunlight and deep shadow portray a very different mood than the even lighting of an overcast sky as well as serving  to create a focal point in a picture.

In the following two pictures, the first one was taken on an overcast day and the second one on a sunny day.

dogwood  leaves with inchworm eaten holes

In the first picture, the goal was to show the holes eaten by inchworms this spring. Having low contrast lighting made the  focus on the holes easier than with bright light and high contrast.

bald cypress tree branches

In the second picture, the only way to capture how light transforms the needle-like leaves from a medium  green to a bright green, is to take a picture of the leaves when they are backlit by bright sun. Here, it also creates a focal point in the tangle of branches and leaves.

I often buck the general rule of photograph on overcast days and not in bright sunlight with dramatic results that I find pleasing. Here are a couple more sunny day pictures:

twig fence in sunlight

Here, the focus is on the twig fence border which is highlighted by the deeply shadowed background. This was a very bright, sunny day for which the shadows were deep and what was in the sun appeared washed out. This picture captured the mood of a sunny day well.

tree silhouette

This was a lovely sunny winter day expressed by a bare oak tree silhouetted against a sky with covered with cirrocumulus clouds.

I find that revisiting the same subject in different lighting, whether due to being overcast versus sunny or due to different time of day, yields very different results which are sometimes more effective or pleasing than others. The key is to experiment with different lighting conditions if you want different results.

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