There is nothing more frustrating than getting to a destination only to find that it is spoilt by the weather. It could be in an amazing landscape scene where the flat light from overcast skies is making the scene seem uninteresting. Or it could even be that the rain is stopping you going out to shoot in the first place. It can be disheartening and you’ll find yourself not being motivated. But there are ways that you can still be productive. Here are a few ideas on what you can on rainy photo days.
Getting on with admin work
To date, I have never met any photographer that enjoys the admin part of their job. Things like adding captions, metadata and keywords are an essential part of the photography process. So on those rainy days when you are stuck in the hotel room, why not get a head start and begin to add all of this stuff into your photos. Not only will it take the workload off for when you get home, but it will probably be easier as it will be fresh in your mind. You can also begin to take this further and have a look through your photos and flag the ones that you think are good or the ones you are going to reject (i.e. because of camera shake). If you can get some of this stuff done on a day that is being spoilt by the weather, then you will feel a lot better at the end of it.
Explore and scout
The reality is that in these situations, there is nothing that you can do about the weather. So why not use the time that you have, to explore places or areas that you were planning to shoot. You will benefit from scouting them in person and so when the conditions are right you will know exactly where to go and which angles offer you the best photos. Create a shot list of places you want to shoot from and it will mean that you can be a lot more productive when you are there to photograph it.
You can still photograph things
There are lots of scenarios that you can still photograph on rainy or cloudy days. In fact, some of these scenarios are best photographed in conditions where the light is flat. So whilst you may not be able to capture that amazing landscape scene you can still be productive and take photos that will tell the story of that destination. Here are some of the things that you can photograph on cloudy or rainy days:
Photograph people – whether it’s traditional head and shoulder shots or environmental portraits, photographing people is a great way to spend a rainy day. The benefit of doing it on days like this is that because of the flat soft light, you will not end up with harsh shadows across their face. Or you can capture environmental portraits where you capture some of the person’s surroundings showing what they are doing.
Photograph markets – often you will find that markets tend to be covered either fully or partially. As the key element here is the market vendors, the products and produce, it doesn’t really matter what the sky is like. In fact, as with photographing people the flat light will probably make photographing markets easier than on bright sunny days.
Photograph the details – close-ups should always be on your shot list for any destination. The details that are often missed by people make for great photos and also great subjects on rainy days. These details are everywhere and if you keep your eyes open you will no doubt see them. It could be as simple as an interesting door or even a beautiful engraving on a wall.
Photograph food – another great subject to photograph on overcast days is food. Whether that is ingredients in a market or a dish served in a restaurant, the soft flat light makes photographing food much easier. It will also give you a more natural and pleasing look for the final result. So if you can, sit at a table outside and make sure you photograph your food before you start eating it.
Photograph forests and waterfalls – often the best time to photograph forests or waterfalls is actually after rainfall. A mighty thundering waterfall will look more impressive than one that trickles down. But rain also brings to life the colour of the plants (i.e. greens) in the forest making the scene much more evocative. You may even benefit from some mist or fog that can enhance the photo further. As you’ll often be under a canopy of trees than you will probably be faced with low light conditions. So make sure you use a tripod to avoid camera shake.
Just do what you were going to do
Sometimes you will have no choice but to do what you were going to do anyway. For example, it could be that you only have a limited time somewhere and you want to see that famous monument. The worst thing that could happen is that you end up getting very wet and scouting the location for next time. But every now and again you might find that the weather gives you something dramatic and you end up with a stunning shot. In fact, one of the best times for photographing landscapes is just after rainfall when the air is clear and the sun begins to shine through the clouds.
Have a break
Travel photography often means long days with lots of walking and little sleep. So why not take the opportunity to just take the day off and relax. You never know by actually taking a day off it might refresh you and motivate more, to work harder the day after.
The most important thing when you are faced with a rainy or cloudy day is to stay positive. You can either take the day off and relax or if you think that you will feel guilty about doing so, try to do something productive. Whatever that ends up being, you will feel much better at the end of the day knowing that you used the time you had to achieve something.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.