Prepare for bad weather photography
Capture great images and keep your gear safe this winter
Winter offers a wide range of photographic opportunities unique to the season. Snow is the most obvious benefit in certain parts of the world, but other weathers provide engaging image possibilities too. However, regardless of whether or not you are actively looking for brooding stormy scenes, or simply having to contend with them as an unavoidable aspect of this time of year, being prepared for harsh conditions is always advisable. Here are some easy solutions to the key challenges of shooting in bad weather.
Scout your location
Before heading out on your shoot, it always pays to visit it beforehand to gain a better idea of how it will be lit, where you can safely set up your gear and where you can take cover should conditions deteriorate. If you can’t visit in person, use Google Maps to explore from home.
Check wind direction
Always assess the location for wind conditions before heading out on your shoot. This will help you predict where you can viably set up your gear safely and the extent to which the wind will influence your minimum shutter speeds. If the wind direction means you will have no place to shelter your gear, you may decide to alter your shooting strategy before arriving on-location, increasing planning time and the likelihood of usable images. Alternatively, knowing which way the wind will be assaulting your intended location will provide you with the required information to intelligently pick a shooting spot, selecting a better-sheltered area for minimised camera shake.
Monitor the weather
Regularly check weather websites for up-to-date reports on expected conditions in the area surrounding your shooting location, This will ensure you aren’t presented with any surprises! This might sound obvious, but it makes sure both you and your equipment is safe, as well as is increasing your chances of capturing successful shots. It’s easy to make assumptions about your exact location, based on weather being experienced nearby – conditions can be very region-specific and can change quite unpredictably, especially in winter. Current information is power when it comes to shooting in changeable conditions.
Use a rain cover
An essential addition to any photographer’s kitbag, when operating on winter days – a rain cover – will allow you to shoot with peace of mind. Although enthusiast and pro-grade cameras are often well protected against testing environmental conditions, entry-level models tend to be equipped with less sealing, so an accessory cover is a good investment if you intend to be out regularly or for prolonged periods, during inclement weather.
Plan your images
Leaving the house with preconceived ideas about the images you want to capture is not always advisable, due to the risk of creative disappointment if you are unable to capture these. However, if you are venturing out in conditions you are able to predict will be challenging, planning the type of shots you want to extract from a location can save you a lot of time in-the-field. If rain is forecast, regardless of whether or not you own a rain cover, being able to ‘jump in’, shoot and leave in a minimal amount of time is a great advantage. You can extend this further to planning around specific weather conditions, using the attributes of what nature provides you with, for creative effect. Wind will often generate fast moving clouds, so if you can maintain a steady tripod setup, longer exposures will reduce them to streaks of colour. Meanwhile, overcast conditions open up opportunities for punchy flower portraits and urban long exposures. Being prepared is a professional’s main weapon.