When you think of good photography weather, you probably picture a bright sun beaming down from a clear blue sky. That’s a beautiful sight indeed, but you might be surprised to hear that a lot of photographers actually root for a lousy day. It’s partly because the old blue yonder gets old after a while, but mostly it’s because clouds, fog, and even rain present some amazing opportunities for great photography. Here’s how a rain storm got us the best photos we took all week while we were in Miami:
1: Bad Weather Means Fewer People
By the time we pulled into the parking lot of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the darkness on the horizon was almost oppressive. The big lot was almost empty, and there was only one other family waiting for the ticket booth to open. Dannie and I gave each other a high five and double checked to make sure we had two umbrellas in the storage compartment of Lisa’s stroller. The whole time we were there we saw maybe ten other people and five of them were a pregnant couple and their team of maternity photographers (who were also overjoyed at their good luck)!
I was glad to spend less time waiting for someone to walk out of our shots, and Dannie was glad to spend less time in Photoshop removing shirtless man in sandals.
Bad Weather Means Easy Light
Sunny skies are pleasant in person, but for photography, they mean harsh light and ugly shadows. Nobody wants to have raccoon eyes in all their photos (except maybe raccoons, but they’re nocturnal anyway). Harsh light is caused by small, but intense light sources and the sun is the smallest most intense light source you’re likely to get. But on cloudy days, the world is bathed in nice diffuse light that casts no shadows and makes everything look nice and soft. It doesn’t always make the subject “pop” very much, but it’s flattering and it’s easy to deal with. If I can’t have golden hour or sunset, I want clouds.
Fog is great too. Not only is the light incredibly soft, it adds a sense of mystery and magic to any photo. Just check out the last photo in this post of new World Trade Center under construction on a foggy morning. If I could make it foggy every day, I think I would. The only catch is that you lose a little detail in the background, so you just have to make sure your subject is close enough to the point of interest.
Bad Weather is Dramatic and Romantic
Not only are cloudy skies easier to photograph without overexposure, they’re also beautiful in their own way if you can capture them correctly. The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens looked just like ancient ruins to me, and I felt like the foreboding sky added to the effect. Dannie and Lisa look like they are exploring the remains of some long gone civilization.
And once it started to rain we each pulled out our umbrellas and took a few more photos before we left. Brides always worry about rain on their wedding days, but I think there’s nothing more romantic than a photo under an umbrella. The only problem arises if it is rainy and windy, in which case you have to worry about the subjects clothes (and your camera).
Since we depend on our photography to make a living, we may be more determined than most to make lemons out of lemonade. But bad weather doesn’t have to mean bad photography. It just means you have to be prepared, careful and, as always, creative. Happy photography!