When the Storms Come – Keep Shooting
By Cathy Cooper
Storms are an inevitable part of life. Whether it’s a storm in your personal life or a weather related storm, they often come without much warning and our normal response when they do hit is to run and hide from them. I have encountered many storms in my life, as I am sure you have also. I have challenged myself to embrace the moment and ride out the storm with anticipation of seeing what I can learn from them as I gain a new perspective in life.
I know many photographers who have the mindset that when a storm comes it is time to cancel all outdoor plans and stay home and relax next to a warm fire. Relaxing next to a warm fire does sound like a great plan, but I am going to challenge you to see stormy days as an opportunity to capture some very unique images to add to your portfolio. As you can see from these examples the colors become really saturated during rainy weather.
Weather storms can include clouds, wind, rain, snow, lightening, and if you’re lucky you may get to see a rainbow. Many storms do bring rain and snow which aren’t good for your expensive camera equipment; but with a little bit of preparation you can be out shooting when the next storm arrives.
First, you will need to protect yourself and your camera equipment from getting wet. I am normally inside my car most of the time when photographing in the rain/snow, but still use all the gear below since I roll down my window to shoot the scene and the rain does seem to make its way into my car.
I recommend being prepared with the following items when shooting in rainy or snowy conditions.
1. Clear UV filter (high quality). I have one attached to all my lenses for protection at all times. It even protects if you drop your lens. I have shattered filters but never the lens glass after accidentally dropping it.
2. Lens hood. This works to protect lens from rain and snow drops.
3. Rain sleeve or plastic bag secured with rubber band for your camera. I use a very inexpensive rainsleeve made by Optech. It can be purchased at http://optechusa.com/rainsleeve.html. They also have more expensive rain sleeves you can search for online.
4. Lens cloth or leather chamois to wipe off any water on your camera lens or filter.
5. Towel to dry camera body, tripod, and or inside of car when rain gets in.
6. Rain gear for yourself if you will be outdoors. A raincoat, rain poncho or waterproof jacket with hat and waterproof boots or shoes. You can use an umbrella but it’s hard to hold it and the camera at the same time. If you have a tripod or assistant to hold the umbrella that can work.
Now that you have yourself and your gear protected its time to find a subject and location to photograph. I shoot mostly landscape and wildlife, but you can also do portrait photography in the rain. My bird photos are the closest examples I have for portraits taken in the rain. Humans would probably be easier to photograph since they don’t spook and fly off when they see you, hopefully.
More Tips for a successful storm shoot:
1. You can use any lens. I use a wide angle, macro or zoom lens depending on my subject. With my bird photos I used a Canon 100-400 mm lens. With most landscape scenes I use a Canon 15-85 mm lens or a Canon 70-200 mm lens. I use a Canon 100 mm macro lens for flowers and portraits.
2. I shoot normally in AV mode (aperture priority) and let the camera determine the shutter speed. You can also use the Manual setting if you aren’t shooting fast moving subjects like birds or sports.
3. Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion of the rain or snow. I recommend 1/250 second to 1/500 second. Since the light will be low, you may have to increase your ISO to achieve a fast shutter speed, if not on a tripod. You can vary your aperture and shutter speeds to create different effects. Do experiment with your camera settings until you find a setting that works for you.
4. Shoot against a dark background if you want the rain drops to show up and your subjects colors to be more pronounced.
5. Use a tripod if you can. but I do most of my storm shots hand held.
6. Experiment with off or onboard flash. Be sure to have it protected from the rain.
7. Move around and try various locations, subjects and backgrounds. When scouting out locations, you don’t actually have to go far from home. These were taken in my yard with a Canon 100mm macro lens. I used a tripod and on-board timer.
Just after a snow storm has finished and the clouds begin to break apart can be a very beautiful time to photograph a winter wonderland location like Yosemite.
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N4C October Competition Results
Five of our DVCC members placed in the N4C monthly competition with a total of seven winning images. Congratulations goes out to Alan Moore and Jerome for their first place wins along with each having another image place. Grant Kreinberg, Chris Nelson, Betty Prange each had winning images.
To see a list of all the N4C winners visit the N4C website. The results on the DVCC STANDINGS page have been updated to reflect these latest N4C results.
DVCC October Competition
At our October competition we had 65 images submitted. Our judge for the evening was Dr. Stephen Weiss who always gives great feedback on our images. Keep in mind that our judges comments are their own personal opinion and if your images don’t place in this months competition, or at N4C, you can always resubmit it into another months competition with a different judge.
To view all the winning entries please visit our competition website.
Projected Image of the Night
Congratulations goes out to Cathy Cooper for her image “Jockey and Horse Jumping High Hurdles at the Petaluma Equestrian Horse Jumping Competitions”.
Print of the Night
Congratulations goes out to Jim Ludwig for his image “The Jenne Farm, Woodstock, Vermont”.
Editors Pick of the Month
Congratulations goes to Alan Moore!