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What to Look for on Dull, Grey Photography Days

Misty morning

Most photographers love frosty winter mornings, mornings when fog has shrouded the landscape in mystery or mornings when snow has transformed the landscape into a winter wonderland.

These are the mornings when winter yields some wonderful landscape photography.

But these types of winter mornings are not common in my part of the world.

Instead, we get a lot of dull, grey mornings, when the light is poor, and everything seems flat and boring.

So, what do we do on mornings like this?

Here are a few tips for what to look for on dull, grey photography days, which can occur at any time, not just in winter.

1.    Look for a strong subject

When the light is flat and boring, a strong subject can draw the viewer’s eye and provide an interesting focal point.

reflection in puddle

This was taken just after a rain shower. The man's reflection in the rainwater puddles provided an interesting subject.

2.    Look for interesting colours, textures, pattern and shape

Colour can be difficult to find on grey days, although when we look closely we often find little unexpected splashes of colour. Texture, too, can provide interest in our images, while including examples of strong shapes and patterns give us subjects that can compensate for dull conditions and lack of light.

Marlay house in the light

Just moments earlier, this building had looked grey and uninteresting but an unexpected burst of sunlight bathed it in light and colour. The unexpected can happen on any day!

3.    Look for contrast

On grey days I frequently take the opportunity to do black and white photography. Good contrast can elevate an image from ordinary to compelling, often by adding mood, drama and atmosphere. The key is to look for compositions with good natural contrast.


4.    Look for compositions where you don’t have to include a lot of sky

leaf in the water

When the sky is grey and lacking in drama it is a good idea to get closer to your subject and avoid having too much sky in the frame. Alternatively, you could fill the frame and avoid including sky altogether.

I often include a small section of sky in my photograph and try to recover detail in Lightroom. This can be as simple as selecting a sky mask, reducing the exposure and adding some dehaze. Subtle editing can make a huge difference to a dull sky.


I like to go out with my camera as often as I can.

If I wait for ideal winter conditions, I might not get out very often, so I try to make the most of those very common dull, grey winter days.

By going out with my camera and using the ideas mentioned here I often return with an image that I like, and which would not have been possible had I not seized the opportunity.

Dull, grey days have their special moments, we just need to go out and look for them.


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