49 Shades of Grey.
For the vast majority of photographers, myself included, finding time for your hobby can be tricky especially when juggling a day job, a family, or in some cases both. Add in to the mix the unpredictability of the British weather and for us landscape photographers those little windows of opportunity get smaller and smaller.
So when I find that break in the busy schedule to head to the hills, the first place I look is the weather Apps. It used to be a case of where is the driest area with Sun? But more recently its been a case of where are the most interesting conditions, and where do I know that suits them best? I guess having some knowledge an area helps. I have been shooting in the Cumbrian Lake District for almost 3 years now, going as often as my diary and other commitments allow. Having a feel for an area and an idea of what conditions suit its locations best, can give a photographer options to make adjustments to their plans at the last minute.
For lakeside reflections you need a perfectly calm day with little or no wind. To photograph an inversion, you need to get up high after a chilly night when you hope the warming rays of the morning sun will fill the valleys with mist. But what if the forecast says rain, wind and no sun? then what?
This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. The forecast sunny intervals had long gone from my weather Apps, and the odds for rain were shorter than the bookies will currently give you for Manchester City winning the Premier League. Bleak, wet and grey were all I could think of, so I needed to go somewhere where those conditions would suit and add to the compositions, rather than ruin them. After all, I strongly believe that you can still get a good shot with a great composition and poor light, but you’ll never achieve the same with great light and a poor arrangement.
With this in mind I headed for Devoke Water in the Western Lake District. A small lake on the edge of Birker Fell with a boat house which is partly a ruin. My target for that afternoon was to come home with a series of images that showed off the location from various angles, using a few different techniques or styles, embracing the grey. It had rained all the way up the M6 but it was too late to abort now. My camera (Fuji X-T2) has good weather sealing, as do the lenses. I had wellies, and a good coat, so with nothing really to lose, we left the comfort of the warm Landrover and made our way up the little path.
Using the boat house as a focal point, I photographed it from both sides of the Lake using standard exposure times as well as longer exposure images to smooth the choppy water and create an interesting, all be it unnatural sky. I generally only dust off the ND filters (I have 10 and 6 stop Lee Filters) at the coast, but I had a feeling they might work here. Other techniques that I could have tried were ICM (intentional camera movement) or ME (Multiple Exposures), both of which I think would work well here.
The point I am making here is that weather is there to be used. If you have the luxury of being able to go out and photograph whenever you want to, and you can wait for the perfect forecast the night before that’s great. But for the majority of us that’s just not practical. We should try to embrace what were faced with and use it to our advantage, after all, there is no such thing as bad weather….just the wrong choice in clothing.