IN THE FIELD: Even Light The Sequel

In keeping with the topic of my last post “Even Light”, I wanted to expand on the advantages of shooting in these conditions. In my experience, most colors are rendered better and are more saturated under even light. For example, I have found it easier to get a proper exposure of white and yellow flowers.

When it is overcast yet still bright enough, there is more latitude in the choice of depth of field, shutter and aperture settings. Slower shutter speeds are easily obtainable since there isn’t as much light as on a sunny day. No need for a neutral density filter here.

The only trade-off in shooting under these conditions is higher ISO settings may have to be used. But most cameras these days can handle higher values and still provide an acceptable image.

I have been wanting to photograph these purple irises for a few years. They always bloom long before any others I have seen. But every time I was in the area where they are growing, the sun was high in the sky. With the plants in the full sun, the color was washed out and the delicacy of the flowers was lost. I wanted to photograph the flowers in overcast light, and didn’t want to set up some kind of shade device. Shading the flowers would have worked, but the resulting light is a bit warmer than overcast light and was not the effect I was hoping to achieve. So I had to be patient and hope I would be in the locale when the light was more even, and they were still in their prime.

Yesterday was an overcast yet still bright day, and I was lucky enough to capture them in their glory.


  1. April 27, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Great post about even lighting, David. Since this is the sequel, is there a movie in your plans? 🙂

    • April 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks Bob, Hmmm not so sure about a movie…don’t think I have the looks.

  2. April 27, 2012 at 10:15 am

    These are absolutely glorious! Thanks for the advice re even lighting. I’m beginning to learn that just before dusk is a good time for my flower/garden shots.

    • April 28, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks My Beautiful, They sure are pretty…and dusk is a perfect time for floral photography…or early morning if that works too!

  3. April 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Great tips and beautiful flowers! I so need to learn patience with lighting.

    • April 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks Teri, early morning the light is cooler and late afternoon the light is warmer. In between those times work also if you can find subjects that are a bit shaded. Or underexpose just a tiny bit..1/3rd or a 1/2 stop.

  4. April 27, 2012 at 10:37 am

    So pretty, David! I don’t see this color here in GA – just the light purple.

    • April 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      Thanks Karen, no dark purple?? Hmm I wonder if the dark ones need cooler temps. Our white ones and the peach colored ones should be opening soon! I drove past these again this morning and they are still going strong!!

  5. April 27, 2012 at 10:53 am

    love the colours on this one david!

    • April 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Thanks Nitzus, that is some royal purple I would love to have in our yard!

  6. April 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I share your love of these intense colours in bright overcast conditions. This image is beautiful; the colour and structure of the flowers combined is quite mesmerising!

    • April 28, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      This was a clump or grouping about 3 feet square. I couldn’t decide which section to focus on at first, so I just kept crawling around on my knees until I found this composition. I wonder if the owner would be willing to divide some. I think they would go well with the ones we have!

  7. April 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Nice shot! I like how you were able to capture the intensity of the purple. I love this kind of iris. I usually have difficulty when it is overcast, but I’ll have to try it more often now.

    • April 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Thanks Fergie, I have challenges with purple flowers at time also. With my camera I found if I underexpose just a bit , it renders the color better. Or change the white balance to shade. I hope you get out more when it’s cloudy or overcast…it’s rewarding!

  8. April 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    David, great example of the saturation that you can get with grey skies-love the colours and focus on the fuzzy parts-sorry I am not a botonist. I think I will take your example from an earlier blog and go visit a greenhouse-it is snowing again today-third time this month, but the buds are opening and i see green, too.:)

    • April 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      The color is pretty amazing on overcast days! More snow?? Jeez! Go hit a greenhouse or two..or three. Just ask if you can shoot some flowers and have fun!!!

      • April 29, 2012 at 11:03 am

        you know the saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes” It is warm and sunny today…Yes!

  9. April 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Wow, that is an amazing image. You have captured the intense colour perfectly.

    • April 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm

      Thanks Jo, I finally got this one!!! The color was/is amazing and they are still blooming! The folks who live there always have something nice blooming at the end of their drive. Can’t wait to see what they have out there this summer!

  10. Nandini
    April 28, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Wow purple is so cool! Loved this photo, David. It made me say – “OH MY GOD!” 😀 😉

    • April 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this one Nandini, I love this color also! Sure is pretty!!! I can’t get your email from your blog to work. Could you send me your e-mail address so I can send you the picture of the azalias?

      • Nandini
        April 29, 2012 at 11:53 am

        I have sent you an email, David. Thank you so much 🙂

  11. April 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    That is really wonderful color!

    • April 29, 2012 at 10:41 am

      Thanks Montucky, sometimes purple doesn’t render well with my camera unless the the flowers are in shade of overcast light. Not always, but they tend to show up more blue than purple. I think it may be a white balance issue or maybe the way I have the camera set up. I wish it was a constant thing because I could anticipate it better. Oh well.

  12. April 29, 2012 at 10:53 am


  13. April 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    WOW! What a beautiful colours and great shot. Thank you dear David, with my love, nia

    • April 30, 2012 at 9:19 am

      Thanks Nia, I think the purple is my favorite! I will be showing peach and white ones when the bloom.

  14. April 29, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    “In all their glory” is right! That purple is just gorgeous.

    • April 30, 2012 at 9:21 am

      The color reminds me of robes or clothing royalty would wear. I have to say, you’re right…that color is gorgeous. I want some for our front garden bed to go along with the white
      and apricot colored irises we have. I think that would be stunning!

      • April 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm

        I agree! Perhaps whoever owns these purple ones would share some with you next time they divide them.

  15. May 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Beautiful photos David. I love shooting in overcast days myself for the same reasons above!! The color of the irises are so rich and vibrant..

  16. May 1, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks MD, overcast days sure do have their merit! I love this purple too…I’ll have to stop in and see if theses folks would like to share some of them.

  17. May 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I like colours here.

  18. May 4, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Photography is all about light.

    • May 4, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      You are so right…it is all about the light ! Thanks for stopping by and the comment!

  19. May 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

    And a glorious capture it was!

    • May 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      These are finished blooming now, but in a few days you will see white ones and hopefully some apricot colored ones!

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