Even you are ready to shoot, that doesn’t mean the weather is ready for you! Whenever you tackle photography outdoors, you need to consider the possibility that the conditions will not be suitable– it could rain horrendously, there could be storm, it could be so hot that it is uncomfortable to work, there could even be snow. There are a lot of maybes there, because we can usually check weather predictions to prepare accordingly, but when it comes down to it, you just never really know what you may get.
Rain is perhaps the most common weather condition you may come against. It could be a light drizzle or heavy rainfall. First thing to do is to protect your equipment even if it is just a drizzle. Use a plastic sheet or bag if necessary, but don’t let the water unnecessarily fall onto your equipment. Rain is very likely to fall onto your lens so you need a cloth (streak free!) to wipe it away every so often.
Rain can cause reflections and make surfaces look glossy. It could also be overcast if it is raining so think about using graduated filters or a polarizer to bring out whatever sky there is. Could you turn the image into black and white later? If so the sky is less important, but think about how you can capture contrasts and shadows.
Rain equals lower light levels usually, so use a wider aperture if possible or push up the ISO (this can look nice if you do turn the image into a black and white one). Using a tripod may cause problems if you want to be able to move around in the rain as will using flash, as it may freeze the water droplets.
Snow is stunning to photograph, but there are a few things to remember. Snow is white and therefore will bounce a lot of light back into the camera. Therefore you get overexposed images with little detail in them. You need to underexpose the camera (an underexposed image can be rescued, and overexposed one, not so much).
You should also check the white balance settings to make sure you have the right hue – an image that is overly white and outdoors may bring up an overwhelmingly blue, cold tone.
Also remember that snow on its own doesn’t amount to much of an image. You need to find a focal point somewhere in the photograph, like a tree, a car, a person to add some kind of perspective.
Wind may seem like an odd one – after all we can’t photograph the wind itself, but we can photograph the effects of it. First things first, you need to make sure your belongings and camera is secure – use a heavy tripod and avoid any unnecessary accessories that can blow about. Look for the effects of wind in things like grass, bushes and trees.
Put you camera on a tripod and choose a slow shutter speed – use a neutral density filter if necessary, and take the photograph using a remote so not to disturb the camera. What you will get is a photograph capturing the blur and movement but to contrast that, still elements like the trunk of a tree or a rock.
Don’t be afraid of difficult weather conditions. Embrace them and look for interesting, new shots to take.