When you get ready for your next great traveling adventure, no matter how hard you research and plan, remember that the weather almost never cooperates. It will either be sunny when you want it cloudy, or vise versa. In nature photography weather opens the door to creativity and endless possibilities.
Planning for light
At Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park (Washington State) the weather can change in minutes. On top of the ridge, we got caught in one of those nastier changes. Abandoning the top, we headed down to the campground. Upon arrival there, the weather lifted. Brent caught a ray of sun coming through the clouds illuminating the dense forest. The moment lasted only a few minutes but Brent was able to get a couple of pictures before it was gone.
Sometimes finding the magic light is serendipitous, but most of the time it is carefully thought out and planned. We rely on planning for the light, and then taking advantage of what we find when it happens. There are many methods to assist you in “planning for the light”.
- Planning involves preparation and scheduling. Many calendars list the different phases of the moon and tide charts. If photographing sunrise and sunsets, tide pools or shore birds, these kinds of calendars are critical information. Calendars are planning tools for scheduling when you need to be at a specific spot for the light to happen.
- Computer programs
- Many programs are available for computing phases of the moon, sunrise and sunset times, and even for charting the course of the sun and moon across the sky. On the Internet you can find weather reports and other resources. We’ve listed a few at the left.
- Consistent Weather Patterns
- Learn about “consistent” weather patterns in the area you are exploring. Florida is typically clear, humid, and warm year around, though in winter a sudden downpour can catch you off guard. Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park, Washington, is well known for constantly changing weather; one minute sun and the next rain. Once you learn about the consistent weather patterns, you can plan your photography around it.
- Weather Watching
- Study weather watching. Learn how to pay attention to the details that announce shifts in the weather. It’s helpful for hikers and climbers since mountain weather can quickly change from peaceful to deadly. Learning how to predict the weather conditions helps you be in the right place for the right light.
- Look outside
- Seems obvious. The weather on the news says sunny and warm and it’s raining. Look outside and see what it really looks like yourself.
- Sunrise and Sunset
- The best times for photography are just before, after, or at sunrise and sunset.
- Hit the Internet
- One of the most exciting aspects access to the Internet provides is instanteous weather reports and information. And it isn’t limited to weather reports or forecasts in your region. You can find news on the weather conditons all over the world with a few clicks of a button. Both Yahoo and Google provide weather information, and there are many sites dedicated to providing weather information on a local and world-wide basis. We have a list of some of those sites in our newsletter on weather to help you get in touch with your Internet weather resources.
Remember, if you want to be a nature photographer, the weather isn’t your excuse not to go outside. It is your excuse to head out the door and look for those weather-related moments and subjects. After all, weather is just part of nature.