Outdoor photography is highly dependent on the weather and depending on where you live, you might be enduring weeks of rain, observing a thunder storm, or trying to beat the heat.
Every great landscape photographer needs to know how to make the best of any type of weather. Autumn’s unpredictability makes this especially so. Understanding how to make the most of light is an important photography skill to master to ensure that you are always prepared. Photography can sometimes even be more about the light a subject is in and less about the actual subject itself. In fact, bad weather can create some of the most beautiful lighting, imparting your images with a unique sense of feeling and drama. Also, if you’re the one venturing out to shoot while everyone else hides inside, you’ll be photographing scenes that nobody else will be capturing!
Shoot towards the light to bring out the shine refracting through every falling drop. The shutter speed you decide on will depend on the effect you are looking for – either blurring the rain to show the trajectory and movement or “freezing” the water’s motion to look like you captured a moment in time.
Try taking advantage of the moment right after the rain has stopped. This moment can allow for some dreary, grey feelings or it might infuse your photo with rich colors, amazing reflections, or maybe even a rainbow. Rain often creates colors that are much more saturated as well. With that being said, consider using a polarizing filter to cut down on unwanted glare. If you’re interested in experimenting with macro photography, the drops left on leaves and flowers make for some great shots.
Dark rain clouds are extremely dramatic and as they part and move, they can bathe the sky in beams of sunlight. If you’re not impressed with your landscape options, try to look to the sky and see what kind of scenes the clouds are creating. Like suggestion above, experiment with a polarizing filter to emphasize the clouds.
Fog can be magical. It is great for creating ethereal photographs or for emphasizing distance, space, and isolating foreground from background (due to the “thickness” of the fog in the foreground). The tiny, floating water particles that make up fog, diffuse the sun’s light and create a soft, hazy atmosphere with little contrast and no shadows. The light level is low so you’ll need to use longer shutter speeds or wider apertures to let enough light in to get the proper exposure.
The refracting light can sometimes confuse your camera. Experiment by adjusting your exposure compensation dial. Sometimes a little over or under exposure can yield a very dramatic image you may not get any other way.
Crisp Autumn days can also be full of sunshine and chilly temperatures. As the amount of daylight hours begins to decrease, consider getting out and photographing the sunrise. Instead of waking up at 4am, you can take advantage of waking up later and still getting a great shot. A sunrise over fall foliage can make for some majestic photographs. Looking to capture the sun in your shot and create a sunburst? Make sure you use a small aperture.
Use the weather to your advantage and try to portray the mood through your photograph. Is the location feeling quiet and romantic? Use the light to create a soft photo. Try using a shallow depth of field or a slow shutter speed. For cold, wet, and dreary, try going for muted colors and low contrast. Crisp and brisk? Use faster shutter speeds, higher contrast, a cool white balance, and a smaller aperture.
Want to expand your knowledge of photography? Need help understanding how light affects your photographs? Check out Camera Land’s Learning Center to see the class and workshop offerings: http://cameralandny.com/camera_land_educational_center.html