Thursday, October 1, 2009

Photographing the Weather

BY SUZANNE WILLIAMS

Storm Clouds
Storm Clouds

Weather is more of a secondary subject in an image. To explain, each photograph must have a main focus point, an object you are pointing your camera at. In the photograph above, it is the distant house. In the photograph below, it is the dew drops. But in each of these two photos, I was also trying to capture the weather.

Dew Drops
Dew Drops

Unusual weather always sends me outdoors with my camera. In the early morning I can often find fog and dew. Rain storms bring heavy, sweeping clouds and sometimes rainbows. Even lightning can make for an wonderful image (though you should never stand outdoors in the open during a lightning storm).

The key to using weather properly is to combine the primary subject with the weather itself. For instance, if there is a "blah" white sky, try looking for close ups. Overcast skies make for wonderful flower images and are useful in photographing running water, where the shadows sunlight creates are then eliminated. Rain drops make for fascinating reflections, almost mirror images of the scene itself.

Storm Clouds at Sunset
Storm Clouds at Sunset, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

This brings me to timing. A lot of weather images require great timing. If there are clouds at sunrise or sunset, watch the sky carefully for its most colorful moment. I find the best light on clouds is often just before the sun itself rises and just after it sets.

At certain times of year, early mornings will bring in fog. I love fog in an image. In the picture below, the side direction of the sun both both created a silhouette of the bird and enhanced the fog itself. Just minutes later the light was too flat and you couldn't really see the fog at all.

Anhinga
Anhinga, Saddle Creek Park, Lakeland, Florida

Use weather to create a mood in your photograph. You can change the same scene from happy to sad or peaceful solely by your choice of days. Watch your local weather forecast and instead of crossing out the rainy days, deliberately go somewhere and take photographs.

Working with the unusual lighting different weather brings is also a way to further your understanding of proper exposure. After all, it is by trying things we are not comfortable with that we can grow and expand the most.

Alien Landscape
Alien Landscape


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Suzanne Williams Photography
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Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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