Go Black & White
White skies look fine in grayscale photos because they can be a light shade of gray. This is not as noticeable as a light gray in color images.
|In this color photograph, the white sky draws the eye up and away from the log cabin.|
|In black and white the sky does not seem so noticeable, in part because we are used to seeing historical photos with light skies.|
|Low clouds and snow mean this color image is almost black and white already.|
|A black and white version is equally effective.|
Smoke from forest fires in Glacier National Park in 2003 produced a similar white sky. In this case, turning the image black and white removed the strange color cast from the smoke.
|Smoke from wildfires created a white sky over McDonald Lake.|
|Changing the image to black and white makes the white sky work without the color cast.|
At other times of year, a very light sky can be effective as a monochrome photo.
|Just at sunset the sky to the east was very light compared to the reflection.|
|Changing to black and white focuses attention on the trees and reflection.|
Create a Clean Background
Studio photographers purposely hang up white background paper in front of which they pose their models. White skies provide a plain background for your subject, whether a tree or a person, for free, especially when there is fog. In the photo at the top of this post, a cloudy sky created the clean background.
|Fog settled in over the harbor, hiding the other docked ships from view.|
|The fog along the Blue Ridge Parkway hid the other trees and hills from view, setting off the delicate spring leaves.|
Try High Key
White skies work well to create high key images. High key images usually have lots of white and light tones with few blacks.
|Intentional overexposure created a white background that adds to the|
feeling of bright light coming through the leaves.
|Snow and a cloudy white sky help unify this winter picture.|
So the next time you are faced with blank white skies, don't give up. Think black and white, "portrait" backgrounds and high key images to take advantage of the conditions.