Cloudy Sky

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

Cloudy days at Walt Disney World can be a disappointment. I mean, we go there for the Florida sunshine, right? On my last trip, I was lucky enough to get a few cloudy days. Lucky? Yes, lucky. For when the sun is above a large cloud bank overhead, it creates a huge softbox. A softbox is used by photographers to put their flashes in and it spreads out and “softens” the light of the flash. Cloudy days do the same thing. They spread out and soften the bright light from the Sun. Shadows are not as dark and colors brighten. This kind of outdoor light is good for making photos of your family and friends. They won’t squint and the dark shadows under their eyes and noses go away.

I do have a caution for you. Like any softbox in a studio. Try and keep it out of your viewfinder as the contrast will cause overexposed areas or blowouts. Aim your camera down or across but not up at the sky. Let me demonstrate with a couple of examples.

The first one is Jessie from Toy Story II in the Magic Kingdom’s Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Parade. It was a very cloudy day and the colors in this parade was popping. Jessie glowed in her red hat, hair and green eyes. I zoomed in to remove the sky above..

Jessie waving during the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Parade in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Jessie waving during the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Parade.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/200s, f/8, ISO 200, EV +1.0, 165mm focal length

Later in the day, I watched the afternoon Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade, which has tall floats to deal with. I needed to get some princess and prince photos even with the bright cloudy sky. To counter the sky, I tried to eliminate it as best I could with backgrounds and cropping (the photo below has a lot of sky cropped out) in the photos. I used fill flash to help balance the light coming from the sky to photograph the proud Prince Eric with Princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid in one of the tall floats.

Proud Prince Eric with Princess Ariel in the Magic Kingdom's Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Prince Eric with Princess Ariel in the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade.
Nikon D70/18-200VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 1250, EV +0.7, 200mm focal length, fill flash at -1 power

A little fun bonus for you. Can you spot what is wrong with Eric? Leave a comment!

For more information about how to take advantage of a cloudy day for photography, here are a couple of excellent links on the subject:

It’s Cloudy – Don’t Put that Camera Away

The Softbox in the Sky

Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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12 Replies to “Cloudy Sky”

  1. Scott

    I have noticed along with the button that Eric has a very badly fitting wig. If this is Eric’s normal hair then please do accept my apologies.

    Scott replies: LOL Hopefully somebody at WDW is reading and will get poor Prince Eric some help.

  2. So very true Scott….I figured out the ‘cloudy day’ thing a long time ago…and I am always ecstatic when I get one! Things just look so much better! just like when everything is wet….colors and things just pop!

    Scott replies: Yes, inclement weather does have advantages in photography.

  3. I believe the epaulet on his right shoulder is positioned incorrectly. Oh, also, the third button down on his shirt on his right is missing the blue “gem.”

  4. Eric has one gold button rather than having all blue buttons!

    Scott replies: Well, almost, there is supposed to be a blue jem in that button.

  5. his third button is missing the blue star in the center of the button, there is just a star shaped hole where the blue inlay used to be…very unusual for Disney to let stuff like that slip…lol

  6. Um, is Prince Eric wearing a Vera Bradley sash? Anyway his sash is definitely wrong.

    Scott replies: LOL No that’s not the problem but I do agree with you.

  7. The third button down on the left looks like it’s a different color. Is it just the angle or is this what is wrong with Eric?

    Scott replies: Nope, that’s what is wrong. Time to call wardrobe!

  8. I’m only taking a guess here, but his button is missing a gem? 2nd one up on the left chest? Just a guess as to what might be the answer!! 😀


    Scott replies: Yep, you got it Mark. Mark was first! Congrats but, unlike Barrie, I don’t have a gift for ya. How about a slap on the back?