When Bad isn't So Bad
Now You See It...Cold temperatures and early morning rain create rolling waves of fog which alternate between transparent, translucent and opaque - occasionally exposing a wonderfully moody scene at Balanced Rock.
Maybe it's all a matter of perspective.
Of course it's disappointing if the conditions make it impossible to create the type of image you had in mind - but that doesn't mean you can't make good photos.
Similarly, a lot of people will tell you the only times worth shooting are during the golden hours.
Those who wait for ideal conditions spend a lot of time waiting and miss scores of opportunities along the way.
"Bad" and "good" are simply labels. Bad weather can actually be quite good. As for the quality of the light, compelling photographs can be made at any time of the day. Bad weather or bad light might turn out to be...nearly ideal.
It's more constructive to think in terms of what's possible given the conditions.
Don't be afraid of rain and/or snow. Your camera can take it; so can you.
One word of caution: remember to check the surface of your lens frequently for water spots. They may not be visible when looking through the viewfinder but the camera will see them and they can ruin an image. Keep a lens cloth handy.
The photograph at the top of the post is an example of interesting conditions created by "bad" weather. This early morning in Arches National Park was cold and windy with squalls depositing mixed precipitation. Rain, then sleet, then snow, then back to biting rain. Thick fog rolled across the landscape, sometimes completely obscuring Balanced Rock.
It was definitely uncomfortable out there but fascinating to watch the fog; it put on quite a show. I waited for an opening during which Balanced Rock was mostly visible but with enough light fog surrounding it to wash the scene in white. By making this a panoramic I was able to provide more context, both in terms of the weather and the surrounding landscape. SkylineNear Moab, Utah Bad Light
Mid-day light is probably the most maligned when it comes to what's considered "bad." While its quality is much different than what you'll encounter at the edges of the day - and it behaves differently - you can create interesting images in bright light. Keep your eyes open and the camera handy.
I made the photograph above near Moab, Utah in the middle of the day with a little bit of a smorgasbord in the unsettled sky, including a few small patches of blue. Even in the absence of full sun the scene was very bright with quite a bit of haze which washed out the color in the rock. Both above and below the colors were distractions. Going with black and white eliminated that issue and also changed the character of the sky. Black and white intensifies the high contrast, renders the rock in silhouette, and simplifies the scene. It underscores what caught my eye in the first place: lines and shapes.
The photograph below was made just before noon, also near Moab. The light couldn't have been more harsh but it's precisely that strong backlighting which made the tree pop. It nearly sparkled; the delicate twigs were rendered silvery white. The appearance of depth is magnified because the subject is lit from behind.
Standing as it does beneath a huge red rock wall, the tree is in full shade for much of the day. But for the bright noon-hour sunlight you'd probably pass by this scene without seeing it.
Weather is weather and light is light: neither is inherently good or bad. Successful photographs can be made in all sorts of conditions.
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