5 Tips for Shooting in Inclement Weather
Not many of us will risk our lives racing into the path of a tornado to photograph the funnel, but many of us will risk our cameras in the rain trying to get a shot of a kid’s soccer game or an impressive cloud formation. Here are 5 tips for taking pictures in foul weather:
- Shoot quickly: When photographing in the rain, you don’t have the luxury of standing in one place for long. That will help to ensure the camera doesn’t get too wet, even in driving rain. To get those quick shots, set everything on the camera except focus before stepping into the damp. When not actively shooting, just tuck the camera under your rain jacket.
- Towel off: Carry a lot of towels. You can buy packs of them at most discount stores. Dry your gear if it gets wet. Just make sure you wash the towels first to minimize lint. (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.)
- Bag it: There are many commercially available rain covers ranging in price from $10.00 to well over $100.00. I have also had success with covers I’ve jury-rigged. I have had luck with rubber bands and Wal-Mart sacks, or duct tape and a garbage bag. But take the sack off as soon as possible. It can trap moisture, which can then seep into the camera.
- Stormy weather: If you are trying to catch dramatic weather shots, you’ll want to set your camera manually. Raindrops can confuse the automatic focus, and overcast skies can confuse automatic exposure. One of the first things I learned shooting clouds or snow, is you have to overexpose or it comes out an unpleasant grey. Go up one extra stop. So, if the camera meter says f5.6, go to f4. I would also encourage you to bracket, meaning to overexpose and underexpose the same shot, as you learn how it affects your shots.
- Twilight, the photo: A great way to get a dramatic shot is a timed exposure as the sun goes down. Morning and evening light are the best. These times are often referred to as the golden hours. You can often get great shots up to an hour after sunset. You wouldn’t see it just standing there, but if you shot a one-second exposure, you’d see a sky color mixed between turquoise and cobalt blue. You need a tripod for that shot, and a cable release so you don’t shake the camera when you press the shutter. Or you can try another trick, most cameras have a self-timer release, so set it for a two second delay and step back.