Photography in Bad Weather Conditions

When dark clouds roll into the sky most photographers run for shelter, but the ones who stay out and brave the weather can sometimes capture the most amazing photos. Bad weather can give photographers a chance to capture rain photos, snow photos, or even lightning photos. In the world of photography the rarer and harder to capture photos tend to sell for a higher price; so there is a potentially large market for bad weather conditions if you are a photographer.

weather-photo-tipsRain Photography

When it rains outside the moisture tends to create a shiny surface on most materials. In the cities the rain causes the streets to shine and the buildings to look gloomy. In the countryside the grass can shine with the right amount of light and droplets of water hanging from branches and leaves often sparkle. The clouds that accompany the rain also diffuse the available sunlight spreading it equally and removing shadows. I have found that rain can create amazing landscape, wildlife, and even portrait photos. Animals tend to curl up or tuck their heads into their fur in order to keep dry and warm offering some amazing nature photo opportunities. Portrait photos in the rain can also be very compelling because the light reflected off of people’s faces can often dominate the frame because the rain dampens the light reflected off of surroundings.

When it rains you will probably have to use either a longer shutter speed or a wider aperture because the clouds tend to also block out direct sunlight. In order to be prepared for rain you should have a waterproof bag for your camera as well as an umbrella or something else that you can use to shield the top of the lens so water doesn’t reach the front of the lens and leave water droplets. I also always carry a tripod in the rain so I can make sure that I can do a long enough exposure without having the results blurry from cold shaky hands.


Many photographers spend hours trying to capture a bolt of lightning lighting up the scene in their photos. Lightning is definitely one of the hardest things to capture in a photograph. It definitely requires a tripod and often requires a very long shutter speed. Most photographers try to capture lightning by using the “bulb” option of shutter speed where the weather-photo-tips2photographer simply just manually holds the shutter open as long as necessary until a bolt of lightning streaks through the sky and then the photographer closes the shutter right after the lightning passes so it is as bright as possible in the frame.

Snow Photography

Snow can change a landscape photo into a winter wonderland photo. The whiteness of the snow tends to add a nice contrast to the normal colors of a scene which makes for very effective photos. Snow photos can also make for unique nature photos and can often sell for a higher price because they are so appealing. Unfortunately some snowy locations where the very rare animals live such as penguins and polar bears are very hard to reach and require a great deal of risk and effort.

Bright and white snow can be trickier to capture effectively then most photographers think. The light readers on cameras tend to see snow as very bright so it sets the exposure for the brightness of the snow leaving the background and other objects almost as dark as a silhouette. Most experienced photographers overexpose the snow photos they take leaving the snow as bright as it is in real life and the rest of the frame well-exposed as it should be. Snow can also disrupt the camera’s automatic white balance sensor so you should also make sure that you either adjust the white balance to suit the snow or switch the auto white balance mode to the snow white balance mode.

Storm Chasing

There are many serious and adventurous photographers that have devoted their careers to getting the best photos of hurricanes and tornadoes that Mother Nature has to offer. This type of photography is very dangerous but can also provide some high priced photos that are demanded by magazines and news conglomerates all over the country. Extreme storm photos are one of the only types of photos that can bring fear to the viewers who have the privilege of seeing them. They can also inspire wonder in viewers at the destructive power and forces of nature.

weather-photo-tips3Storm photography requires some durable equipment and different techniques then other more normal types of photography. Some photographers stay relatively far away from the storm and just have to deal with rain and high winds. These photographers usually have covers and lens cleaners that they can use to clear the lens of water droplets quickly before they are ready to take a photo. Other photographers commonly leave cameras set up on tripods in the paths of a storm that they can operate by remote control from a safe location. These cameras are put in protective cases and have special tripods that can be drilled into the ground.


Bad weather should be looked at as an opportunity by photographers instead of as a nuisance that is avoided. Some of the best photos that I have taken have been in situations where there was rain, snow, or wind. I recommend that all serious photographers should carry a tripod and some kind of covering that can be used shield the camera from wind and moisture if they are going on a long trip with unpredictable weather. The successful photographers are the ones that are ready and willing to deal with difficult circumstances that other photographers would normally avoid.

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