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Taking Pictures in Bad Weather part 2

By Eric Hartwell

In part 1 we looked at ways in which photographing in the rain could produce dividends. Now we turn our attention to mist, wind, and snow. Mist or fog, like rain, has a certain charm and quality. Contrast changes and hues and shapes take on a subtle aspect. Almost everything looks better in the mist. Pictures will look mean and moody and sometimes have an added artistic look to them without you even trying. The brightness of the scene might fool your camera's meter, but with some alterations to the exposure you are bound to get it right. And, of course, with digital, if you don't like the result, just take it again with different settings and see if it's any better. Look for areas where there is standing water as this will be where mist forms first and lingers longest.

Wind is unsettling. You can be buffeted wildly in some case and your equipment (especially a camera on a tripod) can be damaged. The movement created on trees and other objects can look dramatic but with longish shutter speeds you will get blur. This can be pleasing if you are trying to convey movement. Just be aware that you might need to experiment a little to get the result you are looking for.

Snow brings great opportunities but also added difficulties. The whiteness of the scene can markedly fool the camera and to get the right exposure you may have to compensate (overexpose) by 2 stops. Experimentation is the key. But look for objects and vegetation covered in snow and ice. Check for familiar objects with unfamiliar appearances. Falling snow can make dramatic shots and people will always be wrapped up warm which makes candids a must!

A good tip: have some plastic bags in your camera bag. These fold up small and are lightweight and easy to carry. They can be used to cover your camera and lens and to put down on the ground to protect your camera bag from water seepage. They are inexpensive, can be wiped and reused or simply thrown away and replaced. Using a lens hood will prevent water droplets collecting on your lens. It might be useful to carry a soft cloth or towel so you can periodically wipe your hands or your equipment.

Eric Hartwell runs the photography resource site and the associated discussion forums as well as the regular weblog at

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