There's something wrong with me. Most photographers like bright, sunshiny weather. They like the added dimension that deep black shadows lend their photographs. They "ooh" and "ahh" over the fading rays of an orange-red sun at dusk.
That's all very nice, to be sure. But I go absolutely nuts over a cold, early-morning mist hanging thickly over a patch of wildflowers. or pea-soup fog crowding the lakefront. Or even out-and-out rain. Is there hope for me, doctor?
Actually, if a poll were taken, I'll bet plenty of you reading this would confess a similar affinity for foul weather. Sunshine is great for picnics, sun bathing, and watching a baseball game. But there's an exotic, mysterious feel to a photograph taken in less-than-ideal weather.
Imagine a small stand of speckled toadstools nestled up against the trunk of an aged, weathered tree. What kind of light is called for? Of course! Soft, diffused light with a hint of mist in the air. Full sunshine would provide more contrast, producing a sharper image on film. But it would also destroy the mood of the shot.
There's another reason for taking foul-weather photographs: Nobody else does. Or so it seems. Think of the great number of kids' shots you've seen in magazines, newspapers, and in galleries. Now think of the percentage of kids' shots you've seen with the children out playing in the rain. It's pretty small, I'll bet.
That's not because kids-in-rain shots aren't interesting. It's because photographers shooting kids-in-rain shots are abott as rare as spotted zebras. Nobody wants to get wet. And - to a greater degree - nobody wants to get that expensive piece of mechanical and electrical gadgetry known as a camera wet. So those fantastic foul-weather shots go largely unexplored.
You can greatly expand your photo-taking successes if you get your body out of the house on those misty-foggy-drippy days and take your camera along with you. Here are a few suggestions on how to get the best shots.
1 - Treat your camera with some degree of respect. While you shouldn't shoot it unprotected in a downpour, it can tolerate a light drizzle. Wipe it dry before storing it afterward.
2 - In heavy rain (or in a lighter mist over a long period of time), protect your camera by enclosing it in a large plastic bag and securing the bag's opening to the lens with a rubber band. Leave only the lens' front element exposed, and keep it clean by wiping from time to time with a special lens cloth or lens tissue. You can view and manipulate the controls through the plastic bag.
3 - Since available light is limited in foul weather, use the fastest film (film with highest ASA rating) possible.
4 - For the sharpest shots possible, mount the camera on a tripod and use a cable to release to trip the shutter.
5 - When changing film outdoors, be careful to keep water out of the film compartment. Do the [LINE ILLEGIBLE] the inside of the camera from rain. The same holds true when changing lenses.
6 - Be on the alert for unusual atmosphere conditions that might add excitement to your photographs. A barn under cloudy skies pocked with lightning or a ship sailing through a rainbow are just two possibilities.
7 - Except for special effects, don't stand too far from your subject on thick or rainy days. The farther you are from your subject, the "softer" the focus will be.