SUNLIGHT AND DARK CLOUDS: A RECIPE FOR GREAT LANDSCAPES
This simple photo of a wave crashing on a rock is effective because of that dramatic contrast of the white water against the dark sky. Let’s look beyond the image to the elements in the shot, and consider the process I went through to achieve such a result.
The clouds were grey; dark-ish but not quite so dark as you see them here. The sun was shining on the rocks and the water in the foreground, and the sunlit white water was by far the brightest part of the scene. In order to prevent overexposing the crashing wave, I had to take a darker photo than the camera wanted me to. As always I was shooting in Manual mode, so this was a simple matter of setting the shutter speed a few stops faster than indicated by the light-meter.
But when I darken the exposure to control the water, I also darken every other part of the photo including the clouds in the background. So at the same time as not overexposing the water, I have actually underexposed the sky, making it look darker and even more ominous. Whenever you find yourself in a situation with a sunny foreground and a dark sky, you can take advantage of the naturally occurring contrast to produce dramatic results.