Take photos in bad weather - that's how beautiful reality can be

If you look at numerous forums about traveling, leaf through the travel catalogs and websites of the tourism associations, you will encounter the most beautiful sunsets and sunny skies in all imaginable shades of blue. Quite a few travel blogs even edit pictures to turn a bad weather photo into a sunny picture.

How boring it is. True to the motto “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”, we show why it is worth going out and taking pictures even with drizzle and fog or boring gray skies.

We mainly move in areas where the weather offers all facets. The more north we are, the less volatile the weather. Along the Barents Sea, there can be capricious winter weather even in summer. All of this is no reason to hide or leave the camera in your pocket. On the contrary: Successful bad weather photos can authentically reflect the character of a region.

Kvalsund, Repparfjord, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar | © mare.photo

Light without shadow: gray and dry

Anyone can, at least one would like to think, good weather photos. But numerous motifs only really work when the weather is cloudy or even wet. When the sky is overcast, the shadows disappear and the colors are subdued.

Now is the time for the motifs that may not immediately catch your eye. Surroundings that are already “naturally” reduced in color are wonderfully emphasized in their sadness by gray weather.

With such pictures, the gaze often sticks longer than with the usual suspicious summer-sun-blue-sky photos.

But here, too, there are a few things to consider to get the best effect.

The sky should have structured clouds. Of course, they look like a large diffuser, but the diffuser is also illuminated from above by the sun. So you can use the time between morning and afternoon for such recordings. The central areas are exposed.

The environment should offer enough contrasts. So have different brightnesses and ideally horizontal and vertical lines.

If the sky is uniformly gray without visible clouds, you should overexpose the chosen motif by one or two apertures. This is less of a problem in analog photography, since you can usually expose to the darker areas. In digital photography, you have to make sure that there are no white spots in which no image information is left. In contrast to film, digital photography exposes the light areas. In this way, you can increase the brightness in post-processing as much as is necessary for the image effect. Motifs with less but strong structure are helpful here.

Clean air: gray and damp

Museum Bjorklundgard, Bjørklund Gård, Pasvikdal, Pasvik, Svanvik, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar | © mare.photo

Clean air and clear colors, without shadow, arise shortly after a rain shower. Dust is washed out of the air and from the objects, green gets new strength from the water, colors of the depicted motifs become strong. You should accept wet feet, but your head and clothes and especially the camera will stay dry.

Puddles have formed on the paths and squares, which reflect part of the landscape. Here you can take pictures close to the ground with a wide-angle lens.

In such weather, you can take photos in narrow street canyons or gorges that would otherwise sink into hard shadows when exposed to sunlight

Saltdal, E6, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph., Kodak Ektar

Opaque: drizzle gray

Drizzle is actually pretty awesome. Because you have a mixture of fog and rain. The landscape shows itself in new facets in seconds and minutes.

The rain is so fine that it is still bearable for the camera and lens and cannot be seen as rain on the pictures. Especially over meadows and lakes, the swaths lie close to the ground and above that, they open up areas for the view again. Colors are wonderfully subdued and give the picture a unique calm and melancholy. Strong wind gusts are rarely to be expected in such weather, so the water surface remains calm.

You can watch and see how the landscape changes in slow motion. This makes it possible to predict which visual elements will become visible and which will disappear in the veil. Finally, the camera is rubbed dry.

Since the tonal values ​​are in the middle of the range, you can rely on the automatic exposure control. The pictures should remain gray in the brightest areas to allow enough drawing of the swaths. Under no circumstances should the contrast be artificially increased. Such recordings live from very reserved contrasts.

Limited horizon: gray and rain

Stegastein, Aurlandsfjord, Aurlandsfjorden, Aurlandsfjellet, Aurlandsfjell, Kodak Ektar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph.

When the rain is pounding, it is usually accompanied by strong winds. There is usually a continuous cloud wall on the nearby horizon. The actually visible area is clearly limited and dissolves softly in the nearby background.

The clearly depicted areas have reflecting and reflecting surfaces. The existing colors are not bright, but are reproduced vigorously.

With the exposure one can expose to the middle tonal values. Take care when taking pictures: The floor, especially on wood, stone or in the bank area can be extremely slippery.

Saltfjellet-Svartisen-Nationalpark, Polarcircle, E6, Kodak Ektar, Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph.

Bad weather is also just a matter of attitude

The supposedly bad weather has a lot of attractions. Those who stay inside miss out on dreamy and authentic motifs.

The image structure should not be neglected. Especially with haze, drizzle and fog, the important parts must be in the foreground to give the picture a certain depth.

Which focal length I use has an influence on the contrast. Distant subjects can be highlighted with a low contrast using a telephoto lens. The shorter the focal length, the stronger the contrast.

In order to achieve the best results in such situations, you should not save on a good lens. And you can talk back and forth – a really good lens has its price. Because neither the best film nor the finest sensor is of any use if the lens in front of it does not also finely resolve the image. The strengths or weaknesses of a lens are particularly evident in fog or rain.

The same applies to film in analog photography. It should dissolve finely to finely shade the clouds and swaths.

Films with high contrasts, but also cameras that automatically sharpen an image, turn these motifs into fluffy, boring images. Especially in the case of digital cameras in combination with inexpensive kit lenses, there is a high risk that the automatic camera system “improve” the shortcomings internally and render such images unusable.

To protect the camera and lenses, provided they are not protected against splashing water, you can use a screen or a simple plastic bag. However, it is definitely worth investing in rain protection or even underwater protection (e.g. Ewa Marine) or taking an analog disposable camera for occasional shots in clear weather. In wet weather, it’s best to have the wind behind you so that the drops don’t get on the lens.

I took the pictures on this page with the Leica M7 and the Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph. exposed on Kodak Ektar.

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