Go Graphic in Flat Light


Going graphic in flat light can save the photographic day.  Many photographers are repelled by flat light.  I think the most overused excuse for a photograph not working out is “the light is boring”.   Depending on what you like to shoot this can be the case, but with an open mind, high overcast can be quite beautiful.  First, let’s set some parameters for what is meant by flat light.  There are big differences between high soft overcast light and low hanging storm clouds.  The former can be a blessing, the later is much more difficult.  In either case, I start to look for graphic qualities in photographs when the light provides little or no shadows to work with.  By the way, color also can create interesting graphic images in these lighting conditions.graphic image of pipes

I always love high overcast light for shooting interiors.  Many a time I’ve arrived at a location to face a freaked out editor bemoaning the fact that there is no streaming brilliant sunlight blasting through the windows.  I quickly explain that this light will be our friend.  I could work much quicker and make beautiful photographs in “ping pong ball” light.  Meaning what it looks like if the world was covered by half a ping pong ball. This type of light made California the car capital of photography.  Metal shines evenly, shapes are highlighted gently, colors look more saturated and with digital, contrast can be added back at will.Graphic Brick Detail

Flat light is the great friend of digital photography.  We strive to record a flat curve so we can play endlessly in post with no limits.  Graphics seem to jump out at me more in flat light as well.  Maybe I’ve trained myself to look this way when  no shadows are present.  Color relationships also become prominent when light and shadow even out.  The moral of the story is don’t fear the flat…triptyych of pipes and bricks



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