3 Ways to Take Advantage of Bad Weather

0Comments

In Norway we grow up hearing, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”. While this wasn’t what you wanted to hear when you were eight years old, and had to go to school even though it’s -20c and a snowstorm, it’s what we are used to. Instead of complaining about the cold weather we would wear an extra layer of clothes and go about our day as normal.

Foggy sunrise at Covadonga cathedral in Asturias, Spain

Foggy sunrise at Covadonga cathedral in Asturias, Spain

This way of thinking has in many ways impacted my photography and made me go out with a camera, even though it’s rainy, windy or just bad weather. What many seem to neglect is that even though the weather is bad, there are still a whole lot of great images waiting to be captured. They are just a little harder to find. Here are three ways to take advantage for bad weather conditions and still get good photos.

#1 – Drop the sky and zoom in

Bad weather often means a grey sky without contrast. Personally, there’s not much I dislike, more than that in a landscape image. Most of the time this uninteresting sky will take unnecessary attention from the subject, and do more harm than good.

Jotunheimen-Cabin-Fog

Remote cabin in Jotunheimen in foggy weather

So, instead of including a sky that lacks contrast, use a telezoom and focus on a smaller detail in the landscape. Perhaps there’s a cabin, a river, or maybe even a deer in the area around you. Use your zoom and make these subjects into the main part of your image.

This can also be a good exercise for your creative vision, as it forces you to slow down and pay attention to your surroundings. It forces you to carefully look through the landscape and notice every single

In fact, I’ve found using a telezoom beneficial for my photography in general, as I’ve become more aware of the scenery, and I’m constantly searching for something that sticks out.

Geirangerfjorden-fog

The low clouds made an interesting framing of this waterfall in Norway

#2 – Photograph waterfalls

On sunny days it’s very hard to get good images of waterfalls, as the light is hard and the reflections are bad. Most likely the water will look hard and “shiny” even though you’re using a long exposure.

When the sky is grey, it’s raining, or when there are a lot of clouds, you’ve got the perfect excuse to go photograph waterfalls. Since the sun is not an issue, the light will be softer, and you’ll have no problems with hard light on the water. This lets you do both short and long exposures, and still have decent light.

Hraunfossar-snowstorm

A quickly passing snowstorm gave interesting light to this waterfall on Iceland

If it’s raining you should consider using a polarizer filter, though, as the rocks (if any) around the waterfall might reflect some light. The polarizer will kill most of the remaining reflections and you’re left with a great result.

#3 – Take a hike in the woods

My last piece of advice on how to take advantage of bad weather, is to take a walk in the woods. This is something I often do when it’s a rainy day, both with and without my camera. Sometimes it’s nice just to go for a hike in familiar terrains, while other times it can be really rewarding to bring the camera.

ShenandoahMistFall

Misty morning in Shennandoah National Park

Personally, I do not often bring my camera in the woods when I’m going during the daytime. The reason is that I find the mood to be much more compelling when it’s early in the morning, or late at night. At this time the light is even softer, and you can get some dark moody images, or perhaps you’re lucky to even get the light shining through.

Another benefit of going early in the morning is that you increase the possibility to encounter deer or other animals. Just be sure that you don’t make too much noise when hiking, as that will scare away most wildlife.

Dyrholaey-people

Bonus tip: Bring rain gear for both yourself and the camera! Also, bringing both an air blower and a microfiber cloth is important when you’re photographing in bad conditions.

What do you prefer to photograph when the weather is challenging? Let us know in the comments below, and share your images of bad weather as well.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Christian Hoiberg Christian Hoiberg is a Norwegian landscape photographer and the founder of Capture Landscapes, a website to improve your landscape photography. His images can be found on his website or Instagram.Β He's also the author of the well-received Ultimate Guide to Long Exposure Photography

  • jessica-terry
  • maxxxxx

    It could be worse. In Los angeles you have only perfect weather which is really challenging to take pictures in. It’s just boring

  • Von Will

    You poor human!! all kidding aside I live in a place with the tag “Land of The Living Sky”
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/phyguy/

  • maxxxxx

    This looks nice! Although I don’t think I could take the winter there.

  • Annie Metcalfe

    If all fails with colour, go black and white! One I took in the Lake District, England last summer, on a really grey, dull, drizzly morning

  • SDHarleyguy

    Hi Chris,
    Very nicely written and informative! Similar to Maxxxx, I live in the southwest of the U.S. and it is sunny pretty much all the time. I have shot in Northern California in the rain, and ruined a camera. I’d like to learn more about rain gear for the camera! Maybe a future article?
    I must say I love the look of your misty, foggy offerings. Someday, if I am lucky, maybe I might get the chance to visit your beautiful country and see for myself…
    Cheers to you,
    Duffy

  • Christian Hoiberg

    Thank you for your comment Duffy!
    I agree that sunny conditions are just as bad (there’s a reason I don’t photograph as much during summer!) but even in the sun there are possibilities. During sunset/sunrise the light gets much softer and often you will get a nice red/orange sky. An idea could be to include more foreground than sky in a situation like that.
    Funny you should mention that for an article as it’s something I’m currently writing on my website. Will run it through the editors here πŸ™‚

  • Christian Hoiberg

    That looks beautiful! B&W is always a good choice on moody days.

  • Christian Hoiberg

    As I mentioned in a comment above I agree that sunny days are just as bad. I think the biggest different between “bad” weather and “perfect” weather is when you choose to bring out your camera. In sunny LA you get some nice soft light during sunset or sunrise that I’m sure you could work with – just try to include more foreground and less sky. With “bad” weather going out later in the morning or earlier in the evening is a better option as during sunset it just gets dark and you loose all light.

  • Christian Hoiberg

    That’s a cool shot! Could you send a sky like that in my direction sometime? πŸ˜‰

  • pete guaron

    I loved your article, Christian, but I’d be terrified of taking an expensive digital cam out in wet weather, after all the reports I’ve seen of “a little bit of moisture” causing massive damage because of all the electricals in these things. Maybe it was safer with analogue cams !!

    I like switching to street photography in wet weather – also available light stuff. Cowardly, I know, because it’s another way of shielding the gear from the weather (there are generally bolt holes, like verandah roofs in front of shops – or even sitting in a bar or a restaurant & shooting through the window).

    I also like the “shoulder” of a period of wet – after a heavy downpour of rain for some time, the sky and the air take on a different quality – there’s a clarity in the air, and the colors in the sky and around us are quite different for some reason. I’m still chasing the “why” and the “wherefore” on this one, but it makes for more interesting shooting conditions. AFTER the wet, when it’s safe to haul the cam out of its protective bag.

    And after the wet, you often find cloud, light, sky effects which are quite surreal – especially for sunsets, but also in other situations.

  • Christian Hoiberg

    Thank you for your comment Pete!
    When it comes to the “danger” of bringing your gear out in wet weather I think it depends a lot on your camera and how you treat the weather. I often go out in pouring rain with my D800 and it’s never been a problem. If it’s raining too much I have a raincover for it. I’ve also been standing more or less in waterfalls where both the camera and I were soaked and it haven’t been a problem. Mostly it’s about being wise and not do anything too dumb.

    You have some great tips of what to photograph in wet weather!

  • pete guaron

    My main cam is a D810, Christian – but the lenses are Otus, and much as I love Zeiss glass, they’re not weather proofed.

    I loved your suggestion with waterfalls. Not too many of them where I live (Australia – the driest continent on the planet – LOL). But if I do see them, I like the sparkle of the falling water and can’t warm to the idea of long exposure, to smooth them into something like custard pouring down the slope. I did like your shot of the waterfall though.

  • Annie Metcalfe

    Thanks! It’s saved many a dull-looking photo before

  • FLORINA BELU

    Hello!Would you please somebody tell me what lenses do I need to shoot in golden hours portraits?I have a Nikon d 5100 and 18-55mm kit lenses,and when I try to shoot in golden hours,I can’t get a shutter speed more than 30s,which blurr my photos.Thank you.Keep up with your articles.

  • Genevieve Laurin

    When we went to Iceland last year, I was a little disappointed that the weather was cloudy, misty and generally wet. If I had waited for sunny conditions, I would have had pictures of only one day in the trip! But afterwards, when I looked at my pics, I was happily surprised. I think the mist and overcast skies really give a peculiar mood to the scenes.

  • Ian MacAskill
Join Our Email Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!


DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed