All outdoor photographers, but especially landscape shooters are at the mercy of the weather. Every shot stands and falls with the behaviour of low and high pressure systems. In some parts of the world the weather is more or less predictable and stable, in others weather forecasts can’t really be trusted and conditions can change from beautiful to abysmal in minutes.

Streams and rivers are at their best during and after heavy rain. Find a spot with some trees, wait for a wet and dull autumn day and you have all ingredients for a good image.

Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, 24-105mm F4 @ 35mm, FS22, 20 sec. @ ISO 100, polarizer; tripod.

For the photographer this either means going into hiding until the winds have died down, the rain has eased and the sun comes out again or go out and face the elements.
In a country like Ireland with its changeable and unpredictable weather patterns you learn very quickly to embrace the bad and ugly and make the best of it. 

Digital technology has made capturing good images in bad weather much easier. To the naked eye the sky in this scene was a bland grey. Using the HDR technique and applying a digital tonal contrast filter brought out detail and colour.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 24mm TS-E, F14, 1/13 sec, HDR (+/- 3 stops), tripod.

Woodlands

This woodland scene was made on one of those dull and grey Irish winter days. Using a soft-focus filter felt right at the time to enhance the mystical element of the scene. 

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24mm TS-E, F22, 0.6 sec @ ISO 400, polarizer + soft-focus filter, tripod. 

When the wind is blowing and the rain is pouring down the first choice is to retreat to the woods. Woodlands not only provide some protection from the elements they can also be at their most photogenic in bad weather. Wet foliage and soaked mosses seem to emit a glow that can add that special something to an image. An important tool here is the polarizing filter. It both increases contrast and saturation and controls reflections from the wet foliage. 

The day was a mix of drizzle, rain and hail and this particular shot was made during a heavy hailshower. I couldn’t use a lens hood because of the attached polarizer so my main problem was to keep the lens & filter free from droplets. I made 4 exposures with frantic cleaning actions between the shots.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24mm TS-E, F16, 1/6 sec @ ISO 200, polarizer and tripod.

Constantly moving branches and undergrowth can be a problem in high winds. You can however use this to your advantage and deliberately choose long exposure times to blur the scene. If you have a static counterpoint in the scene like a rock or tree trunk this can create interesting images. Exposure times depend on the strength of the wind and the effect you want to achieve. Anything around the 4 second mark usually give a slight blurry effect that gives a sense of movement in the foliage. Longer exposures of 20 seconds or longer (even minutes) remove all detail and result in a more abstract image.

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