This is part two of the Shooting in Bad Weather series. Part one talked about getting out to shoot even if the weather seems like it will be a complete waste. Here we talk about finding bad weather to shoot in so that you can photograph somewhere in a situation that few if anyone will ever see.
Finding bad weather can be easy. First of all it comes when you plan on it not being there. Taking it to the next level you can do these things to almost assuredly get bad weather to shoot in.
Follow the weather channel, watch those radar readings, satellite imagery and weather forecasts for indications of where bad weather will be. If you miss the bad weather because a forecast miscasts, you will still likely find yourself mostly there alone. I am amazed at how many people will cancel a trip or outing because of only the potential for bad weather. How often are they always right?
Visit in the off season, this usually means the more interesting and weather influenced season! Many famous places are free from crowds at off peak times. I have visited many famous places in the middle of bad weather, and during the off season and found myself there all by myself.
Look at historical records of when rain and snow are most likely to come to an area. This isn’t a guarantee you will find weather, but if your stuck planning trips far in advance this may be the key to more likely finding weather different from the common blue sky and sunny days.
Look up once in a while and with practice you will be able to tell most likely where what weather will hit on an hour by hour basis in a day. This is hard to do in forests or canyons, but wide open places make it possible. When I was in the Grand Tetons a while back I would get out of the tent and be able to tell where the mountains might be visible, and guess what might go on in the next few hours by the clouds in the sky and watching how fast they were moving and in which direction. This can be totally ineffective at times but it can also be very effective if you practice continually.
These are a few ideas for finding bad weather to shoot in. There are other ways I am sure, but these are usually my starting point for planning on what to expect when I head out somewhere to shoot.
Remember weather is usually only really bad if your totally unprepared for the elements that you are dealing with. There are many situations that are dangerous to be in. I personally won’t go near lightening, or potential flash floods. Those are some things that no amount of gear or preparation can negate the consequences of if you get “struck” by them. So remember safety first, but most of the time you are dealing with only a small amount of inconvenience for great opportunities to photograph an areas in an entirely different character and light from what most people will ever see it in.
What do you do to find great opportunities to photograph places in different weather conditions?
This is part two of Shooting in Bad Weather. Check out part one Shooting in Bad Weather to find out why you should even try getting out to shoot in bad weather at all.