How to Take Great Landscape Photographs in Rough Weather Conditions

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We've all experienced horrible weather luck, and when it comes to landscape photography , sometimes the weather is just not on our side. When you're finally going out to that amazing national park that you've been planning and looking forward to for months, you've saved up all your money to make the trip and are now ready to shoot your best landscape pictures yet – and it rains the entire weekend. Your camera is facing winds and storms, your clothes are soaked and your shivers cause your image to blur… Not exactly ideal. But fear not! With these tips you'll be prepared to shoot in (almost) any kind of weather, and may even end up taking greater shots than you would have on a plain and sunny day.

1. Plan ahead

This might sound like an obvious one, but plan ahead. Especially if you're on a tight time-frame, make sure you plan your shoot on a day that's not very likely to be filled with hurricane weather accompanied with thunder storms.

2. Come prepared

Prepare yourself and your camera for any kind of weather. Any kind. Weather predictions (although you should definitely check them out to have some idea of what you're up against) are not always very trust worthy. So make sure to pack your bags with at least the following things:

  • A rain jacket or poncho – you don't want to spend your shoot shivering because your clothes got wet in the first hour. An umbrella – does not only shield you from the rain storms, it's a friend of your camera too!

Plastic bags. Lots and lots of plastic bags – Although not the environments best friend, make an exception and embrace your old plastic grocery bags as your saving angels. You can wrap them around your camera, lens, tripod… Hell, you can even wrap one around your head if you're short on hats. Plastic bags will cover and protect nearly anything from rain and sand flying around, perfect for stormy days!

3. Invest in a weather sealed camera

I always say equipment is the least important thing when taking pictures. But when you're out in nature and have some unexpected rain falling on your camera, it might save you a lot of money if your camera is equipped with some good weather sealing. Most DSLR's and mirror less camera's today come with a weather sealed body, but not all of them are equally trustworthy, so make sure to do some research and read reviews before deciding on which camera to get.

4. Embrace the weather and use it to your advantage

Some of the best Landscape photography are shot in other than ideal weather conditions. Often the weather adds to the mood of the picture, and gives it that extra edge to lift it from good to great. If for example some morning fog is blocking half of your mountain landscape from view, why not use that to make an interesting composition? If it's rainy and grey all day without a ray of sunlight in sight, great! Your light will be evenly distributed and you'll have the perfect conditions for a moody landscape picture. If an unexpected thunderstorm is coming your way, get a great shot of that lightening next to the mountains before seeking shelter! Also, shooting in stormy weather allows you to shoot the whole day, since there's no horrible mid-day light to avoid if the sun is barely visible. This means you've suddenly got about 18 hours to shoot, instead of only 4…

5. Look for the details

Now that you've embraced the fact that your feet will be wet and your fingers cold, your mind is free to think about other things – such as great shots. Don't get stuck in the far-away mountain landscape with rain clouds and lightening though. Instead, take some time to look around you, paying extra attention to the details.

Did the wind make an interesting pattern in the sand or re-align the stones? Is the river rippled in a way you've never captured before? Are there raindrops on the flowers? Is there a single trail of bird's footsteps in the fresh layer of snow? All these things could make a great, original picture you only get the change of shooting if you're out there in the rough! Some Landscape photography might even argue that the best conditions for a great photo occur after some rough weather, because then the scenery is fresh, new, and beautiful.

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