Bad Weather Photography

The Benefits of Photographing in Bad Weather

We run our Sunset Photo Safaris every night in the summertime, but as you can probably guess, it’s not away sunny in Alaska. Sometimes it’s cloudy. Sometimes it even rains. On some nights, we don’t even see the sun for the entire tour.

Does this mean you should reschedule or stay home that night? Absolutely not! There are some real benefits to photographing under rainy, overcast skies. In fact, some some subject matter actually works better if you shoot it under cloudy skies.

Also, a large part doing an Alaska Photo Treks tour or workshop is learning how to photograph in a variety of light and conditions. Our goal is to teach you how to get great pictures of Alaska in any kind of weather.

1. Overcast Skies Mean Less Contrast


Sunny skies are great, but if you try shooting in the forest under direct sun, you’ll have way too much contrast. Chances are, your subject will either be lost in the shadows, or else, you’ll be fighting to get a good exposure. We’ve been seeing lots of moose calves around Anchorage this week, and since they usually like to hang around thick forests, it’s to the photographers’ benefit to capture them when there’s no direct sun.


Last night, we were treated to quite a show, where a mama moose was defending her two little mooselets against a very inquisitive black bear. If it had been sunny out, this would have been very challenging scene to photograph.

2. Cloudy Skies are Better For Closeup and Nature Scenes


When the sun is hidden behind clouds, the sky acts like a giant softbox that softens shadows and produces more even lighting. As with forest scenes, subjects like wildflowers and nature closeups are much easier to photograph under overcast skies.

We have lots of flowers and interesting plants around Anchorage and the Chugach mountains, and during those nights when we have lots of blue sky, we’re usually too busy photographing the broad scenes to look down and notice those wonderful details.

With that in mind, we sometime welcome the occasional cloudy day, because it forces us look closer and notice the smaller details in nature, which photograph better in those conditions.


3. Rain Adds Interest to Nature Scenes

Water droplets on grass

Rain can add an intriguing aspect to your intimate nature subjects. It’s fun to photograph water droplets on wet leaves and grass, especially closeup, especially if you get really close with a macro lens. Imagine this picture above without the drops- it just wouldn’t have the same impact, would it?

4. Stormy Days Often Mean Dramatic Skies and Cloud Formations

Summer rain storm over the McKinley River gravel bar, Denali National Park, Alaska

Stormy rain clouds can add a tremendous amount of drama to your photos. These types of scenes can be much more compelling. and in many cases, more accurate. As I mentioned above, it’s not always sunny in Alaska, and if you don’t weather the weather, you’ll miss out on those opportunities to capture the majesty of the true Alaska wilderness, which was born and shaped under dramatic skies and violent weather.

The rain will eventually stop. In fact, even on the wettest days, we often see the skies clear right before sunset. If you stay inside where it’s safe and dry, you’ll not only miss out in the drama of the storms, you’ll also miss out on any post-storm beauty that may ensue.

Rainbow over Tikishla Park, Anchorage, Alaska

So, THAT’S why we go out every night, no matter what the weather is doing. The important thing to remember, is that outdoor photography opportunities are always good, even if it’s “bad,” (I actually prefer the term “misbehaving”).


By | 2017-01-19T22:06:04+00:00 June 7th, 2016|Creative Tips, Photography Advice, Photography Tips|0 Comments

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