Expose for the Sky

When taking landscape, portrait or travel shots, one of the most common problem is when and how to deal with the amount light, specifically with the sky as your background. The sky is dynamic and is constantly changing from its color, brightness and the type of cloud, presenting numerous photography challenges and opportunities.

By being aware on how the sky can affect your output, you can control how it impact your photo to show emotions and mood as if it was alive.

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Using the sky to help convey different moods is a great way to improve your outdoor photos. Giving it a unique style that reflects different emotions like gloomy, sad and colorful skies that invoke happiness and reflective ones.

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The photo above shows a great amount of sky in contrast to the structure below but notice that we still managed to maintain a good color temperature for the lighthouse, the trees and small flower in foreground.

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The clouds in this photo above added a dramatic mood that gives the viewer a sense of place, the windmill built on top of the hill. I intentionally exposed the clouds in this photo while bringing back some of the details in the foreground which is the hill.

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Knowing where to focus and the right amount of exposure will also determine the quality of your output. Keeping a flat focus of the foreground and the background will give your viewer a sense that that the statue is a known feature of your background subject.

Whilst producing a silhouette effect shows a more calm mood to your photo and establishes that it was a part of your main subject which is the church. The basic strategy you need to employ is to determine which side and shape of your subject you want to be in blacked out, in front of some source of light and to force your camera to set the exposure based upon the brightness.

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The best time for nature photographs and structures are morning and before dawn when the sunlight is soft and not too bright and sharp. Because of the softer shadows, late afternoon and morning light is wonderful for photographing landscapes features and structures.

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When you include a sky in your photo, remember to keep in mind the composition, and the rule of thirds to make your image stronger. This will also determine the sharpness of your image. Using the sky to help convey different moods is a great way to improve our outdoor photos.

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