No such thing as bad weather.

Approaching storm clouds in southeastern Oregon.


I know more than a few photographers who refuse to leave the house unless an epic sunset or sunrise is promised.  At the same time there is a running joke amongst some of my photographer friends about how I have unbelievable luck with “good” weather.  This has been tested over the last three weeks on my weekly outings to the various bridges.  Every time I invite others out with me, they tend to glance apprehensively at the looming rain clouds while joking that my streak with good weather may just be coming to an end.  Then of course we show up and the clouds break and the sun beams through and there are rainbows and unicorns and elves and we get amazing photographs.

Or something like that.

This coming from the guy who over the past two winters has taught a “Winter landscape” class through Newspace expressly geared toward getting the rainiest, worst weather possible.  The first year I did that, my good luck almost was my undoing and the class was graced with a rare gorge snow, making things unarguably beautiful.

I did much better this past winter at Cape Kiwanda getting some of the wettest and most blustery conditions I have ever experienced out there while trying to take pictures.  We got shellacked by the weather.

And you know what?  Out of all the classes I have taught, that one probably produced the best pictures.

I like tell people several things when it comes to weather.  The first is that good and bad really have no relation to the weather.  Weather is like light, it is just is.  There is no good or bad weather, it is all in your approach to it, how much you are chained down by your own perceptions and expectations.  As photographers we like to blame light and weather for a lot of our own shortcomings.  “ah, the light was horrible” or “the weather sucked”.  But you know what, if you didn’t get any shots it is your own fault, not that of the weather.

Second, and following the first then, when my friends now joke with me about my good luck with good weather I tend to joke back that for me all weather is good, be it rain, ice, sun, etc.  I am sort of like how the post office used to be.  Yes, neither sleet nor dark of night slow me down as well.

Third, I prefer the so-called “bad” weather because all the places I like to go such as downtown, the Gorge, or the beach are all much less crowded on those days.

Fourth, as a photographer who photographs in “bad” weather you tend to get all the pictures the fair weather photographers miss.  In a time where some of us hoard locations like precious minerals, it is amazing the change in the quality of your images you can bring about simply by going out in crummy weather to the usual spots.

Fifth, you never know.  You just don’t.  “Bad” weather tends to be more dynamic and more prone to rapid change.  It can pour one moment but the next those storm clouds may ease aside for a brilliant sunset.  This is less likely to happen on sunny days it seems.  I tend to go out with as few expectations as possible and see what I can find.

Sixth, I just love rain and wind.  They make me feel alive.  I was out in the Gorge this weekend in the rain.  My coat still smelled like wet moss today.  It was great.

Anyway, so if you know a fair-weather photographer, the next time the skies gray up, kick them in the rump and drag them out with you.  You’ll be amazed at how differently beautiful the world is in the rain, or sleet, or dark of night…  ;-)

One Comment

  1. Posted August 5, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Hi Zeb, I couldn’t agree more, some of the best photos I’ve taken have been in ‘bad’ weather. And living in the UK I do get a lot of rain!

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