Worse Weather Makes for Good Photographs
I was commenting on a photo that I recently saw on Facebook where the wind was blowing so hard that the photographer had to take the photo from inside her car. The photo was a scene of a beach on the east coast that was accented with snow, waves were crashing to shore and dark clouds hung overhead. This gave me inspiration for a new blog topic, since a number of my most popular photos were taken during some of the worse weather.
I have always been a weather watcher and growing up in the southern U.S., I've seen my share of interesting types. The trick with photography is to use adverse weather to enhance the scene while keeping yourself and the camera safe and out of harm's way.
One of my first adverse weather photos was "Snow Tree at La Madre Springs". It was during Thanksgiving weekend and a major winter storm brought cold temperatures, rain and snow to the Las Vegas Valley. I ventured out to the Red Rock Canyon Conservation area for photos. When I turned on the La Madre trail to get some macro photos of cacti in the snow, I noticed the trunk of a bare tree standing out in the distance. I decided to take my chances with the macro lens and managed to get two exposures before the low clouds covered the outline of the tree. My shutter speed just happened to be fast enough to catch the falling snow and create a Monet effect.
Cold weather can be a very harsh extreme for photography and so can the heat. I was at White Sands National Monument in June to get a sunrise and even in the early morning hours there was no relief from the blistering heat. Hiking up and down on the white sand dunes became a major chore, but when I noticed the pyramid shaped dune with the setting moon I had to get closer for a better camera angle. My effort was rewarded with one of my most popular photographs, the "Morning Moon".
I love the rain and enjoy being out in it, however moisture is not good for the camera. For this reason, I always carry plastic bags to protect my equipment. During one of my autumn photo shoots in Zion National Park, I noticed the trees in the picnic area with the leaves covering the ground. There was a mist in the air and I had just taken a few exposures when the rain started pouring down. Grabbing my camera and tripod, I managed to get back to my truck without getting soaked!
Lightning has always fascinated me and even more so when it occurs in the desert. When I saw thunder cells develop over the near by Spring Mountains in the early evening, I decided to go out and take my chances on filming some strikes. I positioned the camera and tripod next to my truck door just in case I needed to quickly jump in. Luck was with me when I got a two minute exposure in the photo titled "Summer Storm", right before the storm moved in my direction.
El Nino can bring a lot of rain to the southwestern desert. That January, the weather had been exceptionally cold and wet. One morning, I received an early call from the ranger station in the Red Rock Canyon Conservation area that there was a huge waterfall flowing at Lost Creek Canyon from the rain and snow melt and they did not know how long it would last. Rushing out with camera in tow, I made the 400 meter hike, scrambling over the rocks and cold frosty trail as fast as possible. Setting my camera and tripod in the water at a low angle, I was able to slow the fast moving "Waterfall at Lost Creek" to a gentle flowing stream.
As soon as I heard that the last full moon of the 20th Century would also fall on the Winter Solstice, I knew that I had to get photos. Since Red Rock Canyon has always been one of my favorite places for the full moon, this was where I decided to do the photography. Well, the best laid plans are always conginent on the fate of the weather and on this special night the winds were forecast to be very strong! For a low light photo, my shutter speed was going to be slow and more susceptible to camera shake. After finding the right location, I positioned my truck to block some of the wind while trying to time my shutter release in between the gusts.
Maybe it's my sense of adventure or love for a challenge, but being out in the elements and getting that once in a lifetime photo makes the effort even more rewarding.
If you are interested in reading about more of my adventures in weather photography, please check the links below.
What an exciting and interesting photo-adventure this day has been. I love it when I am drawn to an area and not knowing what to expect I get treated to new experiences.
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Photography places me in the moment where I can share that moment in time. It becomes a life story as represented by my interaction with the scene. The happiness and beauty or the sorrow and strife; how I focus leaves a lasting impression that might touch the viewer on a spiritual level.
"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"
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