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Suggestions for overcast ocean

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Hope this in the right section, it's a bit of both effects and lighting/shading! I am working on a shot that involves an ocean surface in overcast lighting and I'm really struggling to get it right. I am aiming for something like the attached image but my attempts have come out looking way too glossy/specular by comparison. When I try to push the overcast lighting, I also run in to the problem of the scene really flattening out. How do I keep the detail and contrast in the waves without any bright highlights? I am currently working with mantra but hope to switch to htoa. Thank you!



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Your photo ref has a lot of color correction on it, by the way. A big part of that look is manipulated in post.

Take a look at some reference without all the heavy color correction:



Looking over Mulroy bay to  the Harry Blaney bridge

First try matching the angle to your reference. Reflections are angle-specific, based on angle of incidence. Work from there. Most of the look of the ocean in your ref is from reflections. Get a HDRI image that matches your look and go from there. Small pinpoints of reflections indicate a small, bright light source or bright spot in your HDRI. So, make sure your HDRI is giving you what you need.

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