Every photographer is familiar with bad weather. In this line of work, contending with a thunderstorm or some snow is simply a fact of life.
But bad weather makes for a bad excuse when it comes to a shoot, though. To those with a keen eye, poor weather conditions have plenty of opportunity — if you’re prepared for them.
Bad Weather Leads to Stunning Shots
Before I talk about how to shoot photos in bad weather, let’s talk about why you’d even bother.
Ask yourself: What happens before a beautiful rainbow is revealed across a lush valley?
That’s right — a storm.
Braving Mother Nature presents the opportunity for photographers to take stunning, emotional, and atmospheric photos.
Ominous and dark storm clouds cast a sense of mystery over a landscape. Drops of rain hanging from a leaf can create interesting and thought-provoking reflections. Snow can evoke feelings of coziness or add a layer of texture or mystique to a shot.
More, photos taken in and after bad weather can be added to a library of shots to be used in editing projects or more artistic works.
Protect Yourself and Your Equipment
It’s important to protect both yourself and your gear when shooting in bad weather. While camera equipment is expensive, it’s ultimately replaceable. You, yourself, are not.
Preparation starts long before you even venture out into nature. Start by making sure your camera and lens are weather-resistant. Once you’re sure your gear is weather-resistant, be mindful still to protect it from moisture.
Stow away some napkins and microfiber cloth to wipe down your camera when needed. Try not to put your camera too near your body, as the warmth can cause issues with any collected moisture.
Before heading to a shoot, check the forecast for what to expect. A light thunderstorm or snowstorm isn’t anything to scoff at, but it’s cause for concern when inclement weather becomes severe weather.
Check in with a family, friend, or peer before heading to a more remote or dangerous shoot. If you’re going hiking or delving into the wilderness, let someone else know your plans. In a worst-case scenario, rescuers will have some idea where to start searching for you.
Don’t rely on a single device for plotting your route. If the batteries die or the device is broken or lost, you need to have a backup. While you’re at it, plan multiple routes to and from your shoot. If weather conditions make one route impassable, having a second already plotted can get you out of a hairy situation quickly.
Most importantly, don’t forget to pack warm clothes, a change of clothes, an emergency blanket, snacks, and any other equipment or tools you’ll need to combat bad weather.
How to Shoot in Bad Weather
Once you’re onsite and marveling at the wonders of nature, it’s time to get shooting.
Certain weather conditions enhance a given shoot, like the backdrop of a cloudy sky vs. an impressive waterfall surrounded by lush green. Likewise, light can complement or frame the colors of a shot.
Sometimes, however, the toughest part of shooting in bad weather is the wait. Some of the best opportunities come shortly after clouds part or immediately following a storm when the landscape is shown in a completely new (and renewed) way.
Consider what time of day you’re shooting, too. Weather makes for a different effect on a shot taken at morning, noon, or night. What impact would an early morning rain have on a shot you’re planning to take? What about a light snowfall at dusk?
While you’re likely using a lens hood, don’t be afraid to take advantage of water droplets on the lens. Allow yourself to be creative, even when it comes to your equipment. Change the aperture or rig an umbrella to your tripod (when weather permits). As you experiment, you’ll make the bad weather work for you.
Explore the Effects of Bad Weather on a Shoot
It’s not always comfortable or fun to be under the effects of bad weather. But by properly preparing for inclement conditions, you can capture some of the most interesting and beautiful shots of your career.