Must-Have Landscape Photography Tips for Any Kind of Weather
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Image Credit: Biletskiy_Evgeniy via iStock
Sure, it would be nice to have the weather cooperate each time you venture out to take landscape photos.
But the reality is that there are far more times when we have to deal with fog, mist, rain, snow, and other elements on our landscape photography adventures than when we have perfectly still, Golden Hour moments free from crazy weather.
That means that being prepared for these different scenarios is a must.
The landscape photography tips that I've outlined below will give you better footing for using the dramatic possibilities that weather brings to create the ultimate photos.
How to Photograph Fog and Mist
Photo by Lukas Neasi on Unsplash
The cool mornings of the fall mean that fog and mist often form in low-lying areas. And that means that you can use that to your advantage to create a photograph that has a little mystery and mood.
When photographing fog or mist, most photos that go awry are due to the light.
Since fog and mist diffuse the light, a foggy or misty scene can look extremely flat from a light standpoint.
What's more, foggy and misty photos are often underexposed because the light reflecting off of the fog and mist can easily trick your camera into thinking that the scene is brighter than it actually is.
That being the case, you should use your camera's exposure compensation feature to purposefully overexpose the image.
Typically, one or two stops of compensation will be enough to bring the exposure level to normal.
Additionally, err on the side of longer shutter times so your camera has a greater length of time to collect the light it needs for a properly-exposed image. We're not talking five-second shutter speeds here, but opting for 1/50 seconds instead of 1/200 seconds will make a world of difference.
For more tips and tricks for taking and editing photos of fog and mist, be sure to check out the video above by Tony & Chelsea Northrup.
Lightning Photography Tips
Image Credit: mdesigner125 via iStock
Lightning is perhaps one of the most beautiful occurrences in nature, but it is as beautiful as it is deadly.
The primary thing to consider when photographing lightning is your safety - no photo is worth life and limb!
In addition to the dangers inherent with lightning, it is also extremely difficult to photograph well.
To increase your chances of getting an ideal shot, there's a few things to keep in mind.
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
The best chance you have of capturing a lightning strike is to slow down the shutter speed.
Slowing down the shutter means that you'll have to mount your camera on a tripod, which means you'll need to be prepared well ahead of time so you can set up your gear and be ready to trigger the shutter when the lightning starts to occur.
In addition to a tripod, you'll also need a remote trigger, that way you don't have to press the shutter button on the camera each time. This will help avoid blurry images due to camera shake.
On the camera settings front switch your camera to Manual Mode and dial in the following:
It's important to remember that these are merely starting points. The exposure settings you use will be highly dependent upon the specific situation you're in and how much light is available to you.
Since the shutter speed is the critical component here, adjust the aperture and ISO values as needed to brighten or darken the image.
Another option is to use Bulb Mode and keep the shutter open until you see lightning, and then close the shutter after lightning strikes. This method allows you to take the guesswork out of when to trigger the shutter in the first place because the shutter is already open.
Have a look at the video above by Andrew Marr for some pointers on how to use long exposure times to photograph lightning.
Quick Tip: When composing images of lightning, it's often more impactful to include other elements in the frame. That is, a photo with landscape features, trees, a city's skyline or other elements will give context to the shot and give the viewer a better understanding of the size of the lightning and its associated storm.
Image Credit: DOUGBERRY via iStock
Often, the issue with photographing rainbows has less to do with camera settings and other technicalities and more to do with composition.
That's because when we see a rainbow with our own eyes, we're taking in the totality of the scene - the rainbow in the context of the surrounding environment.
But when you photograph a rainbow - even with a wide-angle lens - much of the surroundings are cropped out of the frame, leaving the rainbow more or less on its own. That can lead to a pretty boring photo.
With that in mind, compose your photographs of rainbows in the context of their surroundings.
Whether that's accomplished by taking a low shooting angle and incorporating foreground interest or shooting through foliage to create a frame within a frame or composing the shot with a leading line to direct the viewer's attention deeper into the shot, being purposeful about placing the rainbow in context will get you a better result.
Likewise, resist the temptation to try to cram the entire rainbow into the frame.
For starters, rainbows are often too large in scope to fit in a single frame anyway. Besides, you can create a more detailed and intimate photo if you focus on just one part of the rainbow and its surroundings.
Get more tips on photographing rainbows in the video above by Outdoor Photography Guide.
Image Credit: mdesigner125 via iStock
Like lightning, thunder clouds can add all kinds of drama to a landscape, even landscapes that don't have much in the way of drama to begin with.
Where photography of storms tends to go wrong is in a lack of preparation and patience.
Photographers often must track the weather and travel with a storm (and get ahead of it) as it develops, that way they can be in position and have all their gear setup when the storm really gets going.
But in many cases, the jaw-dropping scenes like you see above are the exception rather than the rule, so an abundance of patience is needed.
When you find a storm and find yourself in position to photograph it, one of the most important camera settings is again the shutter speed.
Since there is usually wind - and a lot of it - with thunderstorms, you'll need to dial in a fast shutter speed to avoid blurry movement of things like trees and other plants in the shot.
In many cases, a 1/250 or 1/500 shutter speed will do just fine for this purpose, but it's still a good idea to use your camera's LCD to zoom in on the shot to make sure that everything is nice and crisp.
It's usually easiest to photograph thunderstorms in shutter priority mode.
Doing so allows you to determine the shutter speed and ISO while the camera selects the appropriate aperture to get a good exposure.
To see what's possible when shooting in stormy, windy conditions, have a look at the video above by Thomas Heaton.
Quick Tip: Constantly check the exposure of your images as the lighting conditions during a thunderstorm can change dramatically. You might begin with a good deal of light, but during the height of the storm, it can get quite dark. Then, once the storm passes, you should have much more light available to you.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
As I noted in the introduction, it might be ideal to come to your favorite landscape photography spot and find perfect weather, but in all reality, that seldom happens.
Learning how to use weather to your advantage will be a key element in becoming a more accomplished landscape photographer.
So, take the tips we've explored here to heart, seek out different types of weather, and see how you can use things like lightning and storm clouds, rainbows and fog to create more unique, eye-catching landscape images!