Why Photographers Should Get Excited About Bad Weather

Why Photographers Should Get Excited About Bad Weather

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of hearing about the golden hour; perfect photos are boring. Seeking the golden hour may be appropriate for some situations, but a good nature and landscape photographer should never shy away from bad weather. Setting aside the fact that shooting in only one hour of the day is incredibly restrictive, bad weather photography contributes to the mood and atmosphere, sets your photographs apart from others, and forces you to get creative with the atmospheric conditions. So, grab your rain coat and let’s talk about what bad weather can do for you.

Clouds

Stroll Through Vast Sand Dunes
When you arrive in Iceland at 4:45 in the morning you have no option but to explore.

The threat of rain typically comes with cloud cover; a grey, overcast day is the best time to shoot landscape photography and any landscape photographer should look at a cloudy day with with glee – here’s why.

  • More people stay home if they think it’s going to rain which makes cloudy weather the perfect time for landscape photographers to shoot popular locations.
  • Cloud cover reduces harsh shadows created by the sun and increases the amount time for optimal lighting – waiting for golden hour is not a concern.
  • Long exposures are easier to achieve with the reduced light; sunny days may require many neutral density filters to achieve the same effect. Those beautiful soft flowing waterfalls will be a breeze in cloudy weather.
  • Moody, dramatic clouds really liven up an otherwise unassuming landscape scene such as the case in the example photo.
  • Sun rays peeking through the clouds creates depth, adds layers, and places emphasis on the subject it illuminates.
  • Picturesque sunset photos require clouds as the sun reflects off them to give that beautiful glow.

Fog

Foggy Morning at Red Bud Isle in Austin, Texas
Location: Austin, Texas | Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T2i | Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm

Morning foggy conditions lend themselves to beautiful, mysterious and spooky vibes that are unique to fog photography. In addition to adding a bit of drama to your images, photographing mist can mask unattractive backgrounds making it easier to capture nature’s beauty in urban environments and trick the viewer into believing the photo was taken in a calm isolated environment.

Snow

Snow in Sedona, Arizona
Location: Sedona Arizona | Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T2i | Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm

Snowy, wintery landscape photos are magical works of art that give a sense of time and location as snow doesn’t happen everyday or everywhere. Snow can give a dreary vibe, but I associate it with joy and cheer because snow always meant no school… snowball fight anyone? When the snow is falling it’s fun to get creative with a macro lens and shoot closeups of snowflakes, icicles, or snow-covered plants. You can also add a sense of mystery by shooting the footsteps of a person not captured in the frame; who was here, where were they going?

Sun

Camera: Canon 6D Mark 1  | Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm

Shooting in full sun gets a bad rep in photography as sunlight creates harsh shadow. But who said shadows were bad? There are a variety of types of photography that have a lot to gain from the sun, so leave the sun alone with your golden hour, he did nothing wrong. The sun is just misunderstood.

  • Light and shadows are an artistic technique used a lot in black & white photography.
  • Composition techniques such as leading lines and frame within in a frame use harsh shadows to help frame the shot and emphasize the focal point.
  • Lens flare or sun rays peeking through the trees would be impossible without a little sun.
  • Silhouette photography requires shooting directly into a brightly lit source casting such a harsh shadow that only the outer edges of the subject are visible.

Rain

Rain on the pink walls of the Museum of Modern Art building in Seattle Washington.
abstract, art, artistic, backdrop, background, pink, color, colorful, design, light, material, paint, pattern, poster, purple, surface, texture, textured, vintage, violet, wall, wallpaper

If you’ve read my About Me page, you’ll know rain won’t stop me; I find accepting the imperfections of rain to be freeing. With a little creative thought, rain sets the mood with a range of emotions from chaos to serenity or from sadness to romance. Here are some unique ideas to help you embrace the wet weather rather than fear it.

  • Fun props such as umbrellas and rain boots bring a splash of color to an otherwise gray and dreary day.
  • Photographing after the rain makes way for some unique perspectives using reflections. Get low and see the world from a different angle to get the best rain photos.
  • If you’re lucky you may be graced with a rainbow to liven up your landscape photography.
  • Rain droplets add a bit of texture and turn something ordinary into something extraordinary.

The most important thing for new photographers to remember is there is no such thing as bad weather, only different photo opportunities.


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