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5 Weather Photography Tips

Self-Portrait in Ottawa

I got so many questions about photography I decided to share a few tips in a new ten-post series.

Check out “Just Blogging” for more tips or browse pictures taken all over the world!

You’ve probably been hearing me complain about Canada’s extreme weather, but sometimes, I actually enjoy it. First, you never get bored—this is the perfect place to experience weather phenomena described in Wikipedia. Second, extreme weather offer great photography opportunities. Stormy skies, snowy mornings and rainy days are all a chance to capture magical moments if you don’t mind getting cold or wet.

So here are five tips for anyone interested in weather photography.

Be prepared to face the weather

When the weather is nice and sunny, you can always find a bench to switch lenses, adjust your settings and review your pictures. But in extreme weather conditions expect soaked feet, frozen hands or way too much wind to risk changing lens.

Make sure to dress accordingly—waterproof coat, thick gloves, hat, anything that can help depending on the conditions. The key is to layer up.

Good shoes are essential too—I usually stick to sneakers or comfortable sandals in the summer. Photographers do walk a lot and a blister or high heels could ruin photo hunt.

It was bitterly cold the night I shot the Olympic Torch Relay last year in Ottawa and trust me, I learned my lesson! It took me two hot showers to warm up.

Protect your gear

You will face a few issues when taking your camera out when the weather is bad. First, your lens can fog up with condensation when temperatures change rapidly, such as going from a cold place to a warm place and vice-versa.

Second, batteries lose their charge much more quickly in cold weather. When I’m not using the camera, I usually remove the battery and put it under one of my gloves to keep it warm enough.

Cameras don’t like to get wet although you can probably get away with a bit of misty rain. I always carry a plastic bag to protect it if I need, and I do put the lens hood on.

Focus on interesting details

I always enjoy focusing on the little details that tell a much longer story, such as scarves covered with snow, frozen power lines, fir trees coated in ice, rain drops on leaves or footsteps in the snow. Learn to see what other people don’t! And don’t be afraid to get close to your subject to fill the frame. A strong focus is the key here.

But don’t forget the big picture

After focusing on the small things, think big and take a few grand overview pictures that illustrate your theme—flooded streets, a rainbow over the forest, a stormy sky in Paris, a snowy road during a blizzard or snow drift.

And pay attention to people

When the weather is bad, people tend to be oblivious to what’s going on around them. They focus on dealing with the situation and getting from point A to point B or performing their daily chores.

People crossing the street and jumping over slush, shovelling snow, scraping ice off the windshield or sheltering in unlikely places could be good opportunities for a great shot.

Go for it, you’ll get wet and cold but it may be worth it!

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