Heavy Weather - tyneholm
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Heavy Weather

Heavy Weather

Assignment L35

The saying “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” could be your motto for this assignment. The idea is simply to head out and take some creative shots in bad weather. 

Of course, “bad weather” will mean different things to different people, but for most landscape photographers it is probably any conditions where the light doesn’t create some relief on the landscape. This could cover anything from dull, flat light on an overcast day through to pouring rain and howling gales. 

Match your approach to the conditions. On dull, overcast days, take a trip to the coast and use an extreme neutral density (ND) filter for long exposures. Depending on the length of the exposure and the movement, water can be recorded as an ethereal mist or a glass-like surface. If there are textured clouds above, include lots of sky and try a minimalist composition. 

When shooting in rain, set up under cover if possible (or use an umbrella if it’s not too windy) and avoid shooting into the wind to keep your lens free of rain drops. Contrast will be low and visibility limited, so look for bold shapes to use as a basis for your composition. A similar approach works in thick fog. 

Above all, remember that protecting yourself and your equipment is important. Wear appropriate clothing and try to keep your cameras and lenses dry. If the conditions are really extreme, stay at home. 

View the images

Technique

  • A polarizing filter is useful in rain or drizzle to reduce surface glare. 
  • On overcast days, graduated filters can inject drama into a sky. 
  • The low contrast of shots taken in rain or fog means that a high-key treatment in post-processing often makes compelling images. 
  • On windy days, you will need to shoot with faster shutter speeds, possibly handheld, so increase the ISO and open up your aperture if necessary. 

Special Kit

  • Neutral density (ND) and graduated filters
  • Rain cover and chamois leather 
  • Bungee cord 

Field Notes

  • Water and electronics don’t mix well, so keep your camera covered. There are plenty of commercial rain covers available, or you can improvise-the shower caps supplied in hotel bathrooms work well. A chamois can be used as a rain cover, and is also useful for wiping kit down if it does get wet. 
  • In windy conditions, hang your camera bag from your tripod to add extra weight and stability. Attach it via a bungee cord, so the bag sits on the ground and doesn’t swing around bumping into the legs and causing even more vibrations.