Many city parks have lakes, water features and fountains to compliment the garden settings. These are perfect subjects for photographic compostions and are best captured on overcast days.
Overcast days are useful for capturing a full tonal range.
Water being a life force of nature, provides the perfect photographic accompaniment to garden scenes. A lake creates a tranquil and serene atmosphere. Fountains signify movement and energy and stand out nicely amongst the colours of the surrounding foliage.
When the sky is overcast the light source is diffuse and so acts like a soft filter to a photographic scene. This is fantastic for capturing a full tonal range from dark to light without any under or over exposure.
To best capture an interesting scene that involves moving water, overcast light is ideal because the ambient light is dimmer and so allows the use a slower shutter speed. This is essential for capturing soft, smooth water flow, rather than freezing the water in harsh looking droplets. You will usually require a tripod in these instances.
Captured at 1/30 second shutter speed movement is captured in the water fountain
A shutter speed of 1/30th of a second will usually capture some movement although slower shutter speeds will capture more. The more movement, the softer and more tranquil the scene will appear.
To allow longer shutter speeds without over exposing the image it can help to use a polariser or neutral density filter. These will cut out some of the light entering the camera and so allow for use of slower shutter speeds.
Shutter speed of 1/10 sec captures even more softened water movement
The most important thing to keep in mind when photographing on overcast days is to compose your shot so that the sky is left out completely.
Overcast skies can be very bright and prone to overexposure. They also most often appear as a dull white and so detract the eye from your composition and add nothing interesting to it. By removing this ultra bright white sky you will also allow your camera to more evenly balance exposure of the other elements.
By simply removing a dull overcast sky you will notice a huge improvement to all your landscape shots.
This image taken on a cloudy day was improved by removing the sky and adding vibrance in Photoshop
Keep in mind that colours and tones are muted somewhat in this light though and so may need some added vibrance or saturation during post processing. Using a polariser filter will help to saturate the colours more in camera.