Travel Photography Tip # 2: Bad Weather Makes Good Pictures

Travel Photography Tip #2:  Bad Weather makes Good Pictures (or at least interesting ones)

Everyone wants perfect blue skies for their holiday – it’s much less fun sunbathing during a typhoon, and even indoor pursuits like shopping can be seriously marred if you run the risk of getting drowned by a sudden deluge between the exit of the shopping centre and the car.

But if your holiday does get marred by less than perfect weather, don’t despair – this is often the best time for travel photography!  Stormy skies, snowstorms or fog – all are unique opportunities to show your location in a different light.

Picture of benches in Major's Hill Park in Ottawa during a snowstorm, Ottawa

Here are 5 ways bad weather can present great opportunities for travel photography:

1. Interesting light: Photography is, fundamentally, all about light, and bad weather can do all sorts of interesting things to light.  The light immediately before and after a storm can add drama to any subject.  Rain can turn city streets into reflecting pools, and  snow can turn a landscape into a giant reflector, casting light into all sorts of places that may normally be in shadow.

2. Great Skies: Stormy skies are an atmospheric addition to any landscape, and this alone can really add that ‘Wow’ factor.   While blue skies are wonderful to experience, photo after photo of them can get a little old sometimes.

3. Fewer Tourists: Bad weather can keep less hardy travellers indoors, so you are more likely to get that picture of that Iconic Location blessedly free of other people.  And this doesn’t just apply to Iconic Locations – the lack of people can make for striking pictures of normally bustling places.

4. Authenticity: Weather that keeps the tourists at home often fails to daunt the locals, and capturing the way they deal with extremes that daunt out-of-towners can make for fascinating pictures.

5. A different take: Everyone is used to the picture-perfect postcards of a location.  Bad weather may not be ideal, but it forces you to take a different look at your location, which is not always a bad thing.

I had to limit it to 5 things, or this post was going to go on forever, but this is just the start: bad weather can offer innumerable opportunities for photography, regardless of where you are.   The key is to work with it, not against it.  Make the most of the opportunities it offers, and incorporate the snow, rain or storm clouds as a key part of your picture, and you’ll find that bad weather days can be some of the most rewarding for travel photography.

So, the next time the weather outside your window looks bleak, don’t hibernate in your hotel room – get out there and take some pictures!

(If you missed it, you can read the first of the Travel Photography Tips here)

21 thoughts on “Travel Photography Tip # 2: Bad Weather Makes Good Pictures

  1. It is so weird I got this post this morning……presently my husband is out taking pictures of the snow we got during the night in Tucson, Arizona!! Snow and cactus…….makes for a great pic

  2. Oh – I have to agree. I much prefer photographing in less than perfect weather than under blue skies and bright lights. The resultant images are so much richer for the ‘bad’ weather!

  3. Yes yes yes! Perfect blue skies are oh so dull. It’s one of my complaints about where I live. Too often we have a solid blue sky, or a solid white sky. Both are pretty horrid for photography (although solid white is the lesser of both evils). Bad weather makes for such lovely lit and interesting scenes. Awesome tips here!!

  4. A few important considerations here and I agree with them all. Some of the best pictures comes with your object offset by storm clouds (uniform dark grey) behind it, while the sun behind you lights up the same object. Amazing results. Even better than golden hour shooting (late afternoon light).

    A clouded over sky can be bad news if you want to shoot something like a bird in the tree. The white background (you are pointing the lens upwards) reduces the object to a silhouette – loss of detail. But then a clouded over sky also means the absence of shadows – great for portraits.

  5. Pre, during and post storms are great, downpours are great, fog is great … but too often here we just experience *dull*, blanked out and grey, when there is little merit in the sky. As it’s something that’s clearly not going to go away (!) I’ve tried to alter my mind-set about this and *find* the positives. Well…It makes for good silhouette shots…! 😀

    I’m enjoying this series. Keep ’em coming.

    • Completely white or grey can definitely make things difficult, if you want to include the sky in your shot. But as Louis mentioned, the flat light can be good for portraits or macros, or anything where harsh shadows are a drawback.

  6. Pingback: Sydney Opera House, Australia | Journey Photographic

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