Photo tutorial – Take advantage of bad weather to take beautiful photos

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Martí Micolau
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Winter is coming slowly, and with it cold, rain and bad weather. The rhythm of your photo outings decreases due to a light shower or a gust of wind. Whatever the weather, you have to know how to take advantage of all situations. Here's how to...



Go out well wrapped up, go out warmly dressed

Whether in the cold or the rain, before planning a photo outing in bad weather, it is important to think about dressing well and protecting your photo equipment. It's out of the question to ruin your camera in the rain or catch pneumonia for a photo, however beautiful it may be.

Question of clothing, everyone has their own style, parka or k-way, sneakers or hiking boots, we let you choose; just remember to opt for warm and waterproof clothing. Nothing is more unpleasant and prohibitive than a photo outing from which you come back cold and soaked. The most important thing will be to properly cover the extremities of the body, feet, hands and head, the cold infiltrating mainly through the extremities. Note that nearly 50% of our body heat is lost through the head; beanie, hood and hat will be your most faithful allies.


As for photo equipment, especially in the event of heavy rain, specific protection will be necessary. If a good number of cameras are said to be tropicalized or resistant to humidity, for the vast majority of them this remains purely theoretical. And even if the device is well tropicalized, this is not necessarily the case with the optics that you have associated with it. In fact, you can always take shelter under an umbrella that you hold with one hand while you shoot with the other, but agree that it is far from practical. Otherwise you can opt for a plastic protective cover that you will find on the market, or make one using a pierced plastic bag to get the lens out and a rubber band to secure it. We don't guarantee you a foolproof style, but your camera will stay dry, provided you store it in a waterproof camera bag afterwards.



Remember to protect your camera during rainy outings. © Samuel Boivin.

What to photograph?

Now that you are ready to face the bad weather, you still have to find something to photograph. If an overcast, gray and rainy sky makes a majority of people as gloomy as the weather, for a photographer this weather can become a source of inspiration and poetry. It remains to learn to appreciate the bad weather and to anticipate the possible compositions in order to be able to play with the elements.


The rain

When we think bad weather, we immediately think of rain. If it is far from being the only subject to be photographed, it is the one that makes people talk the most. We can also divide this topic into 2 parts:

The rain itself: The most obvious is to photograph the rain itself, when it falls. Whether in landscape photography, portrait or street photography, let your inspiration run free. Technically, you can decide the aspect that the rain will take on your photo by adjusting two settings: the aperture to give depth of field to your photo, and therefore more density to the rain, but above all the speed of shutter, which freezes the raindrops as they increase; conversely, a slow speed fades the rain. The good compromise is actually between the two, around 1/125 s, for visible drops, with a slight trail which reinforces the effect.



It is also possible to play with the exposure time with the snow to give more intensity to the bad weather. © Samuel Boivin.

After the rain: after the rain it's still rain! So rather than photographing it directly, why not suggest it instead. What better way to evoke the downpour, the deluge, the storm than to use the traces they leave behind them. Shoot your subject through the reflection of a puddle, incorporating vegetation beaded with raindrops, or shoot your portrait through glass on which the last drops are streaming.



The reflection in a puddle is a great classic of photography. © Samuel Boivin.

Fog

A true act of poetry on its own, the fog should be a reason to go out and take pictures when it appears. He transforms the atmosphere of a scene into something mysterious where the difference between sky and earth is no longer, where the silhouettes take shape and fade away with distance. Surely the best of bad weather.



The vaporous tablecloths immediately give an atmosphere to your shots. © Samuel Boivin.

The clouds

We all spent hours looking at the clouds in our childhood to find shapes in them. In photos, bad weather can delight your child's soul, not to flush out a cloud in the shape of a rabbit, but to play, compose with them. A sky full of more or less heavy clouds can give a dramatic aspect to your photo; while the same scene with a ray of sun piercing the clouds will give a touch of optimism. Likewise, a heavy sky on a rough sea will confuse one into the other to give only an impression of chaos.


Take advantage of the smallest gap in the sky to intensify your images. © Samuel Boivin.

People

Because sometimes the elements are imperceptible, because the cold without the snow is not visual, because the wind that blows does not blow hard enough to bend the trees, because the rain is too light, the best way to transmit this sensation of cold, wind noise or humidity still remains to do it through people (this person who fights with his umbrella blown by the wind, this other who jumps this huge puddle of water to avoid not getting her feet wet, this old lady with her head buried in her fur hat blowing on her hands to warm them...). No need to photograph the weather directly, sometimes it is much more obvious when suggested.


© Samuel Boivin.

Inspiration

You now have the keys to photographing in bad weather while staying warm. But as always in photography, in order to create a successful and therefore striking photograph, theory and technique will not necessarily be enough. Basically, everyone is able to take a picture of a person walking in the rain with an umbrella, the most difficult will be to find the little something that will identify your signature. This little something can be a way of framing, an original photo technique or a touch of post-production that inspires you at this moment.

Color or black and white

The question of black and white is all the more legitimate as the winter atmosphere lends itself very well to it. A cloudy sky, snowy ground, low light... so many arguments to develop your black and white photo. Everything is of course a matter of taste, but we must admit that the melancholy of rainy days lends itself perfectly to monochrome. Be careful though, photographing in black and white should not be a choice to “catch up” with a failed photo. A good black and white photo is visualized beforehand, it is a basic choice, not a default choice. Converting the file to black and white is a specific step.


© Samuel Boivin.

Long exposure

Lack of overall light around winter increases sensitivity over summer choices. Otherwise, you have to opt for a longer exposure time so as not to go too high in the ISO. Besides, bad weather can be an opportunity to play with the shutter speed and go even lower than acceptable speeds. In landscape photography, using a tripod, you can make the clouds and waves of a rough sea fluffy, blur the tops of trees that dance to the rhythm of the rising wind. You can also make a spinning effect on a person running on the sidewalk to shelter from the rain. In any case, playing with a slow exposure helps to reinforce the element's sense of urgency and strength.


© Samuel Boivin.

Play with colors

The worse the weather and the darker the day, the more the city is grey, sad and its inhabitants with it. Very often, the coats are black, gray, brown, like the umbrellas, the briefcases... and suddenly, in the middle of the sad crowd, appears a lady in a red coat, a child with a "frog's head" umbrella, a young man in yellow shoes. You have your picture! Play on color contrasts, in town or country, by the sea or in the mountains, the color wheel is always your best ally.


© Samuel Boivin.

Minimalism

The cold period also lends itself very well to minimalism. Associated with fog and black and white, there is no doubt that the final rendering will be striking if it is well mastered. Nature is stripped of its greenery, the branches of the trees are bare, the vegetation has gone underground to come back stronger in the spring, so compose in a minimal way, play on the silhouettes of bare trees lost in the middle of deserted pastures, the abandoned beaches where only those who reside there remain.


© Samuel Boivin.

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