Taking photos in bad weather – reality can be so beautiful

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

How boring that is. True to the motto “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”, we show why it is It is worth going out and taking photos even when there is drizzle and fog or boring gray skies.

We predominantly move in areas where the weather offers all facets. The further north we go, the more unstable the weather becomes. Even in summer, capricious wintry weather conditions can occur along the Barents Sea. None of this is a 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.

Light without shadow: gray and dry

Everyone can take good-weather photos, at least one would think. But numerous motifs only really work when the weather is cloudy or even wet. If the sky is overcast, the shadows disappear and the colors are muted.

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

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

But here, too, there are a few things to consider in order to achieve 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 middle areas are exposed.

The surroundings should offer enough contrast. So have different brightnesses and ideally horizontal and vertical lines.

If the sky is uniformly gray without any visible clouds, you should overexpose the selected subject by one or two f-stops. In analog photography, this is less of a problem, as you can usually expose on the darker areas. In digital photography you have to make sure that there are no white spots in which no image information is preserved. In contrast to film, with digital photography one exposes the bright areas. So 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 humid

Pure air and clear colors, without any shadows, arise shortly after a rain shower. Dust has been washed from the air and from the objects, green gets new strength from the water, colors of the motifs shown become strong. You should accept wet feet, but your head and clothing and, above all, the camera stay dry.

Puddles have formed on the paths and squares, in which part of the landscape is reflected. Shooting close to the ground with a wide-angle lens is ideal here.

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

Opaque: drizzle gray

drizzle is actually pretty great. Because you have a mixture of fog and rain. In seconds and minutes, the landscape shows itself in new facets.

The rain is so fine that the camera and lens can still bear it and is not visible as rain in the pictures. Especially over meadows and lakes, the swaths lie close to the ground and again reveal areas for the view. Colors are wonderfully muted and give the picture a unique calm and melancholy. Strong gusts of wind are rarely to be expected in such weather, so the water surface remains calm.

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

Since the tonal values ​​are consistently in the middle range, you can rely on the automatic exposure. The recordings should remain gray in the lightest areas in order to leave enough drawing of the plumes. In no case should you artificially increase the contrast. Such shots live from very restrained contrasts.

Limited horizon: gray and rain

When the rain pounds, it is usually accompanied by strong wind. Usually there is a continuous wall of clouds on the near horizon. The actually visible area is clearly delimited and dissolves softly in the near background.

The clearly depicted areas have reflective surfaces. The existing colors are not reproduced brightly, but vigorously.

During exposure, you can expose to the middle tonal values. Take care when taking photos: The ground, especially on wood, stone or in the bank area, can be extremely slippery.

Bad weather is only a matter of attitude

The supposedly bad weather has a lot of attractions. Whoever stays inside misses dreamlike and authentic motifs.

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

Which focal length I use definitely has an influence on the contrast. Distant subjects can be highlighted with a wonderful 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 shouldn’t skimp 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 provide a fine resolution. 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 give the clouds and plumes a fine nuance.

Films with high contrasts, but also cameras that automatically sharpen an image, turn such subjects into dull, boring images. Especially with digital cameras in combination with inexpensive kit lenses, there is a high risk that the automatic camera’s inadequacies will “improve” the image internally and render such images unusable.

To protect the camera and lenses if they are are not protected from splashing water, you can use an umbrella or a simple plastic bag. However, it is definitely worth investing in rain protection or even underwater protection (e.g. Ewa Marine) or using an analogue single-use camera for occasional recordings 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 / Leica M Elmarit 2.8 28 asph. on Kodak Ektar and exposed with Leica SL 601 / SL 2.0 75mm.

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