Photography Tips for Rain, Mist, & Fog
So maybe you’ve mastered sunsets, and shooting in natural light. You’ve probably already read our post on composition….but you’re looking for something more, something a little unique. Maybe you’re ready to push the boundaries of your photography a little bit further and branch out of the “norm”. If you’re looking for an interesting take on photography, to add a new style of photo to your repertoire, then this post is for you! Today we’re going to give you a few tips for shooting in unconventional (and sometimes more difficult) weather conditions such as mist, fog, rain, and hail.
Photo by Ben Heine
Most of us photo nuts are disappointed when we see rain in the forecast, not only do we associate less than perfect weather with bad photos, but we don’t want to chance ruining our precious gear. Of course, wrecking your gear by taking it out into wet weather is a very valid concern…but just because the weather isn’t brilliant doesn’t mean you can’t shoot. In fact, shooting in less than perfect weather creates a whole new set of photography opportunities. If you shift your thinking a bit to begin thinking about “bad” weather as a unique shooting experience, much like shooting a 4am sunrise, you’ll begin to notice photo opportunities even on days when there’s no sun in sight.
Let’s talk practicality for a moment – if you plan to shoot in misty or rainy conditions you will want to ensure you’ve got enough protection for your camera. There’s a ton of options for keeping your camera protected, you can go the pro route and pick up a rain cover, or you can always go low budget and use a Ziploc or plastic bag. If it’s not raining very hard you may be able to find shelter under a tree, you could shoot from the car with the window open, or if you’re shooting in the city you can stand under an awning. What we’re saying here is get out there and take photos even if it’s raining, there’s always a way!
So now that you’ve got your precious gear covered, let’s talk shooting tips.
Bring a Tripod
Rain, mist, and fog means there’s clouds…which also means there’s less natural light available. Given that there is less light you may need to shoot at slower shutter speeds to allow more light into the camera. Avoid that nasty camera shake by shooting with a tripod or monopod.
Look for Fog and Mist
Into the Fog
Photo by Feldore McHugh
Fog and mist can add that something special to your photo, especially in the very early morning and late evening. Typically you will get the best results if you shoot fog and mist during what would normally be the “Golden Hour”. If it is a cold misty morning you’ll need to shoot fast before the sun burns through the mist. Look for water vapor rising from ponds, rivers, and streams, or swirling up from valleys and ravines.
If you are shooting in the fog take a look for interesting silhouettes that stand out against the swamp-like background. You can achieve some stunning compositions with objects emerging from the fog! Be aware of the objects around you and the way the fog affects those objects. Also keep in mind that fog is pretty dark, so along with shutter speed you might also need to consider exposure. Try increasing the f-stop by ½ or ¾ of a stop to ensure your photos aren’t too dark.
Shoot the Raindrops and Condensation
Photo by Valerie Pearce
The patterns that raindrops and condensation make on objects around you are like none other found in nature! They’re unique and often very beautiful. Look for raindrops on leaves, condensation on water pipes, rain dripping down windows or off of tree branches for inspiration.
Photo by José Eugenio Gómez Rodríguez
If you’re brave enough to go out in a lightning and thunderstorm, be ready to expect the unexpected. Shooting lightning can be really fun, even if it is a bit unpredictable! We could probably write a whole post on this subject (watch this space we just might do that) but a couple of things to remember for shooting lightning is keep your camera on the tripod, use long shutter speeds (as long as possible – maybe even the bulb setting), and set up your shot ahead of time. You’ll need to keep the shutter open as often as possible to capture the lightning, so just sit, shoot, and be patient. Don’t forget you can stack your lightning images to great effect in post-processing!
One final note before you head out into the rain…take a towel with you, the weather is unpredictable people!