"You don’t have to go storm chasing in the USA to get great weather shots"
Jeremy Walker shares his Top Tips for shooting Weather Photography:
Dress appropriately for the conditions. If you are heading out and the forecast is for rain and storms you are going to need wellies and waterproofs. If you are shooting in the winter make sure you have enough layers on to keep you warm. Your feet, fingers and head will feel the cold the most and if you are cold you wont be able to concentrate on your photography.
Metering. Whether you are using a compact or a DSLR you will have to meter correctly for the conditions and subject matter. Sometimes, particularly when shooting clouds or into the light you will want to override what the meter is telling you and perhaps increase or decrease the exposure. Learn how to do this with the exposure compensation dial or meter manually.
Use a circular polarising filter to enhance the contrast and colour saturation between fluffy white clouds and a blue sky. Using the polariser will make the clouds really stand out from their background but this will only work to its maximum effect when the sun is at ninety degrees to the angle you are shooting at. The more you look toward the sun the less the effect the polariser has.
Include other subjects in your weather shots to give a sense of scale and place. Landscape in the foreground of your image with people or buildings will lend a sense of scale and show how big and dramatic clouds are. Including people in your image will show their interaction with the weather and how it affects them, think puddles, brollies being blown inside out, yachts at full sail, sunbathers and sandcastles etc.
Experiment with different focal lengths. It is not just all about wide-angle lenses and big vistas. Use longer lenses to isolate just part of the subject. Use the compressed perspective a longer lens will give you to make the shot much more moody and dramatic.
Use an ultra violet ( UV ) or skylight filter not only to protect the front element of your lens from getting scratched but to help cut through haze and give you a clearer sharper image. A polariser will also help do this.
Use a tripod if you can but for some subjects it will be absolutely necessary, for example shooting lightning. To shoot lightning (at night is easiest) set the camera up on the tripod and point the camera toward the storm. The cameras shutter speed should be set to ‘bulb’, the ISO to 100 and the lens aperture relatively wide open, f2.8- f4. You then just fire the camera and expose, trying to coincide the lightning with the shutter being open. It will be very much trial and error but the results can be worth it. If you attempt to shoot lightning be safe, stay away from the tops of hills and keep out of the actual storm (the tripod will make for a great lightning conductor!) If you can, shoot from inside a building.
If you find yourself shooting in snow, rain or drizzle, protect the camera. Modern Nikons are incredibly well weather sealed but persistent and continued use when there is a great deal of moisture around is never fun! Try protecting your camera and lens with a leather chamois cloth, even a carrier bag held in place with an elastic band will add protection, a camera cover for 5p !
Look for alternatives. If you can’t get out and shoot the big storm or the fiery sunset look for close-ups and detail shots. Raindrops on plants or windows can make for interesting subject matter as can detail shots of frozen puddles or close-ups of snow flakes. Look to see what is on your doorstep, you don’t have to travel too far to shoot the effects of the weather.
Use what you have. We have a great variety of weather in the UK from rain to fog, snow, high winds, sunshine (sometimes!) lightning, rainbows, mist and much more. They are all opportunities for shooting images so make the most of them. You do not have to go storm chasing in the USA to get great weather shots.