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Making the Most of Bad Weather

Friday, March 7th, 2008 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

Making the Most of Bad Weather

When it rains, when lightning strikes and when it snows, you would rather stay indoors than go outside. Yes, we all love to be in our comfy little homes when the weather is bad, but that’s a big mistake if you’re trying to get some unique picture shots. In hindsight, you have a better chance of making your pictures speak “more than a thousand words” than when you shoot in perfectly normal weather. Here are a few ways you can use bad weather to your advantage. Let’s check it out!

Play With Light and Shadow

Two dimensional and three dimensional scenarios, brightness and contrast and light and shadow are all things that add special effects to photos taken in bad weather. Why do I say that? Well, different climatic conditions add different effects to your images. For example, when the sky is covered with clouds, the sunlight gets diffused and what you get is even lighting all around, which is great for landscapes. Then there’s the condition of the sun peeping out of the clouds. That gives intermittent light that creates somewhat of a spotlight effect. Similarly, incessant rain droplets can create reflections, which are great for macro or close-up photos. On the other hand, shadows do exactly the opposite. They isolate the subject and create visually interesting layers to your image by forming diagonal and vertical lines and framing your subject.

You could play with contrast using sunlight as well. Bands of clouds in the sky can be used to highlight or isolate your subject, while foggy conditions can reduce contrast and create a surreal, dreamy scene. Varying brightness also helps you play with exposure times. Bad weather provides an opportunity to highlight motion with long exposures, while artificial lighting will help you mark out areas of your subject you want to feature with greater emphasis. In addition, natural elements, such as clouds, fog, rain droplets, sun rays, river banks, backwaters, branches and trees help you create depth of field and give a 3D effect to your images.

Research the Weather

If you’re on vacation or stepping out for a “photo walk,” it pays to check out the weather beforehand. One way of doing this is to study the weather report on TV and in the newspaper. Now, all weather conditions offer numerous photo opportunities. So, once you know exactly what you’ll encounter on your photo shoot, you’ll be able to better prepare yourself for it.

Become a Photojournalist

Photo journalists are photographers who go to any place to take a photo, come rain, sunshine, hail or storm. That’s precisely what they need to capture devastation, scene of crime, news as it happens and candid photos. By going out into that kind of weather, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to capture the moods of a person, place or thing in unusual circumstances, which is something few photographers have accomplished.

Choose the Right Place

Sometimes it’s also about choosing the right place to set the mood in your photography. It could be the tiled pavement in front of a store front, the fountain in the city square or the skyscraper in front of a garden or lake. What’s even more important is being well aware of the place and what beauty it holds for you. It then becomes easier for you to photograph what is out of the ordinary, because you’re already quite familiar with everyday photography at that location.

Set the Mood

India’s Taj Mahal is considered one of the wonders of the modern world. But did you know it looks different at various times throughout the day? Be it sunrise, sunset, afternoon, evening or when it rains, it always looks different. So, just because you’ve taken pictures of the Taj Mahal at one point in the day shouldn’t stop you from taking some more when it rains or when it’s cloudy. The mood is different and your photos will capture just that.

Get Your Attitude Right

After it’s all said and done, your attitude toward your photography is all that counts. If you’re the kind who will do anything for a rare shot, you will step out in your pajamas so that you don’t miss the sunset even when it’s raining cats and dogs outside. That should be the spirit of your adventure! Once you have that kind of attitude, bad weather becomes your best antidote to uninspired photography. That also means that your camera equipment should always be ready, along with your umbrella, tripod, cell phone and whatever else you need for your photo shoot. Being prepared is half the work. Have fun!

~ Zahid H. Javali

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