I own professional photography equipment and I know how to achieve correct exposure. I also use adobe lightroom. I use auto white balance but I am usually pretty good at eyeballing color corrections post processing. I noticed that I can use the same camera and lens for different shoots sometimes I will have a hard time editing / color correcting one shoot and the other shoot is a breeze to color correct.

I noticed it might be possible I have a harder time color correcting on cloudy days? I can't seem to figure out what else the problem might be. I figure a cloudy day should be great for portraits because the clouds act as a diffuser. However I noticed my photos turn out so much better on sunny days or partly cloudy days when I place the person in open shade in the evening. On sunny days in open shade the colors look much more true and quality of photo MUCH better. On cloudy days I noticed the skin never looks good...almost muddy... it's almost too yellow, then too blue and my eyes play tricks on me, and the shadows don't look very good. Everything just doesn't look as good, I don't get it. Sometimes I don't have this problem on cloudy days, but I noticed more often when I have a problem color correcting it's usually a cloudy day.

Does anyone have any experience with this and can offer any advise? I would like to shoot any day of the week in any weather without having so many problems and delivering the same quality of photos to all my clients.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Please post example images or image sets. I'm pretty sure your images taken on an overcast day simply lack contrast. But that's just a wild guess, we need to see images, please post them. \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Nov 4, 2015 at 0:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ POSSIBLY due to ultra diffuse nature of light providing "fill" for all features contours details ... from many angles and softening up and decontrasting details. Mayhaps a degree of fill flash to provide increased directionality without having so much that it visually dominates or that its presence is even obvious. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2015 at 2:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Your description sounds like what I perceive in indoor situation lit from many light sources ()also at different colour temperatures). eg wedding in church or reception with windows, highlights, main lights, broad 'spot' over central area etc. If additional lighting not used very soft de-featured results are easily obtained. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 4, 2015 at 3:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ What changes do you make when shooting under the different conditions? ISO? Aperture? Shutter speed? The need for a higher exposure value on the overcast day means you are changing at least one of these. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Nov 4, 2015 at 5:23

2 Answers 2


Color balance is as much about what "looks" right than about meeting some idealised concept of "correct".

Without examples of what you are talking about any answer is pure speculation but I can list a few things that may be different between sunny and overcast conditions.

  • Direct vs diffuse lighting. Sunny days have a high contrast between parts of the subject lit by the sun and parts in the shade, whereas overcast days are by nature diffuse, and not necessarily in a flattering way because it's still light that's coming predominantly from above.

  • Effect of blue sky (atmosphere). On a sunny day the blue sky adds a blue hue overall, and particularly to shadows - that is, all reflected light from the sky is more blue, and this is more noticeable in shadows because it's not competing with direct light from the sun - whereas direct light from the sun is warmer, giving a contrast. On overcast days there isn't this same balance and the hue of all light will be more uniform.

  • Dynamic effect of clouds. The varying types and thicknesses of clouds and the fact that they move relatively quickly can mean that on a cloudy day, the exposure and color balance changes throughout the length of a shoot, making it hard to get consistency between shots both in exposure and in color balance.


You could try the "color by the numbers" approach in Photoshop advocated by Dan Margulis. This acknowledges that the visual system adapts to what it is currently seeing and hence that color corrections based purely on appearance can give results that won't look good later. There's a free panel at https://www.ledet.com/margulis/ppw that offers guidelines as to what LAB values faces and other type of objects can reasonably take on so that you can avoid "impossible" skin coloration.

That being said, I still do almost all my color balancing by sight:)


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