Boosting Contrast on a Gray Day for Better Family Photos
Photographing a young family after the first child is born is a great honor, even if it's your family. I spend many vacations with my partner Kenn's sister Amy and her family. The arrival of Liam into the Gege family brought us all a wonderful little boy. I became a surrogate uncle and Godfather. I also earned the challenge to photograph the new arrival with his parents, and sometimes squirrelly dog Bailey.
The day we were able to coordinate everything for a family photograph turned out to be overcast and gray. My style of photographing outdoors was challenged because of the complete flatness of the light. The joy of the proud new parents really shined through on the gray day and we set up on an upper balcony of the house so I could "take my best" shot.
The flat, diffused light of the gray skies was my main challenge. Such light can render images with little or no contrast, so it's important to find ways to create more contrast in your setting. Here are my tips for boosting contrast in a scene when photographing on a gray day:
Tips for Boosting Contrast on a Gray Day for Better Family Photos
- Have your subjects wear a brighter color that will "pop" against a gray background.
- Shoot with backgrounds that offer some contrast to the gray and your subjects' clothing.
- Aim for shallow depth of field to enhance the sharpness of your subjects, but be careful not to lose focus on your subjects.
- Adjust your camera's white balance setting to warm the scene.
- Remember that your digital camera will think of neutral gray as the correct exposure, so experiment with a few shots to adjust your exposure manually and override what the camera says is "normal".
- Post processing can help warm a gray day. Understand how your photo editing software adjusts the "temperature" of your photo. Even the most basic applications will allow this and give you the freedom to "warm up" your photos.
These photos of the Geges took advantage of all 6 of these tips. The lighter clothing, white balconies, pillars and chairs with natural green foliage all helped bring more contrast and dimension to the photos. They allowed the subject matter to really be the shining star of the scene!