You turned up at the spot for that great sunset shot to find the clouds rolling in. Travelling through a spectacular location on a rainy day? Too late for that magical morning or evening light?
It’s not the end of the photographic world, there are other options. Let’s look at some examples of what is possible.
One of my favourite locations is less than 10 minutes’ drive from our (suburban Auckland) house. The Tamaki Inlet has moods that go all the way from the calm and restful to the incredibly busy and sometimes wild and stormy. I arrived one evening on the eastern side of the inlet hoping for some spectacular light as the sun set across western side of the waterway. Good sunset shots need a bit of cloud for interest, so it all looked promising for something like this.
What I got was the clouds rolling in as a sharp westerly squall blew in, and it was going to rain real soon. Time to go home? Maybe not. A closer look suggested that the dark sky would give another interesting choice so the ‘sunset’ photo ended up being this.
The day for a previously organised trip to the Karangahake Gorge arrived with windy weather and lots of rain with maybe a few fine breaks. We were still going (as organisers for a group on the Hauraki Rail Cycle Trail) but the photography prospects did not look good. We set off in the pouring rain on one of the narrow trails that form part of abandoned hard rock gold mining – good rain protection including my waterproof Lowepro Dryzone camera bag definitely required! Emerging from one of the old tunnels on the trail provided a unique perspective on the narrow gorge - brightened by the strong colours of the rainwear of other walkers. A super wide angle lens enabled this shot with it still raining steadily.
A late departure for a planned trip on one of the spectacular but less travelled scenic coastal roads in the far north of New Zealand’s North Island pointed to missing the prospect of the early morning light on this eastern coast. However the low winter sun still provided some interest as shown in this image of Waipiro Bay.
There are a few things that will increase your chances of making the most of the conditions. My list includes:
Always bracket your exposures - different light can really be helped by a different exposure
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different vantage points to get the best from the light
Shoot raw if you possibly can – post processing work will be required to bring out what you saw at the location, and raw gives you much more latitude.
So be prepared to take some chances with less than ideal conditions – the results can be really worthwhile.