Sometimes we just can’t catch a break. No matter how much time we spend planning for the perfect trip, arriving at your destination at the perfect time, and setting up to capture the perfect shot, sometimes it just doesn’t go according to plan. Often, it’s bad weather that throws all the careful planning out the window. But bad weather photography can have its advantages.
Rain, snow, wind, fog – even smoke (which I discovered is a regular issue in Australia) can impede on even the best of plans. Some areas of the world are more susceptible to bad weather than others. Of course, this should all be taken into account when planning. Consider the time of year, or historical averages in the area you’re considering travelling to. Is it considered the rainy season? Are there times of year where, even in the windiest parts of the world, the wind comes to a standstill? It does happen, even on Everest. Everyone’s idea of a perfect photo is different but is entirely possible to get good photos in bad weather. You just need to be a bit flexible and consider pushing yourself to shoot outside your comfort zone.
Use the weather to your advantage
So you’ve arrived at your destination, and the weather isn’t cooperating. A camera is a flexible tool, but at the end of the day, it’s still just a tool. It will forever be an extension of your natural ability. It’s in these situations that you will need to rely heaviest on your ability to see something for it’s artistic components. Can you frame the shot you were looking for a little differently? Rain creates interesting reflections and, if shooting in an urban environment, can actually brighten up a scene with reflective light at night.
Bad weather photography. A cautionary tale.
You’ve no doubt invested in your photography equipment, and you want to protect it. Some professional equipment, like the Canon L series lenses, are weather resistant, however, you can never be too careful. On a recent outing on Vancouver Island, Canada, I got a little too confident in the weather resistance of my setup. Shooting in a driving rain, I thought my 5DmkII and 14-40L was safe enough under my jacket, with only the occasional exposure to the rain. Bad weather photography got the best of me.
Unfortunately, I was overly optimistic. That night, I noticed the LCD screen was on. I tried to turn it off. The camera did not respond. No buttons worked. The camera was dead. For the rest of the trip, I was stuck without my camera. However, once I returned to drier, sunnier Sydney, I opened the camera up and let it air out. Three days later, it started working again. I had dodged a bullet, but not everyone is as lucky. Be sure to look after your gear.
Bad weather inevitably results in muted tones. But while I love my vivid colours and eye-popping colours, I’m also a sucker for silhouettes and heavy contrast in black and white photography. Storm clouds pop in black and white, and sheets of rain bring new lines and change the composition of a photo.
Oh, and dress appropriately too. You don’t want to be soaked to the bone and shivering, hoping to get that wall hanger of a shot.