Why Shooting in Inclement Weather is a Good Idea – Part 1 Rain

When most people see that it is going to be raining or snowing they stay inside. Being a photographer shooting in these conditions can be amazing which can result in some unique and fantastic images.

Back in October I decided to head out to do some shooting in the rain. While I admit shooting in the rain is quite difficult, there are a number of things that make it easier. First would be to dress for the weather and the 2nd is never leave the house without a lens coat, lenscoat.com makes great lens coats and best of all they cover the body so its not just the lens that is protected. If you don’t have a lens coat you can always use a shower cap with a whole cut in it for the lens. I decided to head to the Basilica, the Basilica is one of the most photographed places in Winnipeg. Trying to find a unique way to photograph the facade is a challenge. This is why I thought that shooting it in the rain and at night would be something unique and different. I had shot the Basilica a couple of nights before in the rain but hadn’t gotten the shot that I wanted. Being able to visualize a shot before you shoot it usually results in a much better image.

My goal for this shot was to include the Basilica’s iron gate in the shot. In order to do that I would need to take multiple images as the dynamic range in the shot was quit drastic. The gates are black and aren’t well lit but the Basilica is bathed in light. I learnt the technique for the shot below in a book by Lance Keimig called Night Photography. Night Photography is an excellent book that I highly recommend. The below shot is was 7 images merge together with photoshop HDR. In order to take the 7 shots your camera should be set to manual, I used my auto focus to get the focus right and then I switch off auto focus before I started taken my shots. I used f/9 as an aperture and ISO 800. Make sure that your camera is on a tripod as you will have longer shutter speeds. Take 1 shot with what your cameras meter shows as a perfect exposure then take 6 shots from there 3 by stepping down your exposure by 1 stop each time and 3 others by stepping up your exposure by 1 stop each time. So you should have 7 shots with the following exposures +3 EV, +2 EV, +1 EV, 0(which is what you camera meter shows as a perfect exposure), -1 EV, -2 EV, -3 EV. You should have 7 different images with 7 different tonal ranges. See below images for examples.

Final Result

1. What your cameras light meter thinks is the perfect exposure for the scene

2. -1 EV

3. -2 EV

4. -3 EV

5. +1 EV

6. +2 EV

7. +3 EV

As I said above the reason why I took multiple images is because of the Dynamic Range in the scene. This makes it hard for the camera meter to get the perfect exposure. Image #1 is what the camera meter though was a perfect exposure and you will notice that the highlights on the basilica are a bit overexposure so you lose the detail. If you look at the images that are underexposed you will notice more details in the highlights (lighter areas in the scene) but you lose all the details in the shadows (darker areas in the scene). The opposite is true with the overexposed images you have detail in the shadows but lose all the detail in the highlights. By merging multiple images together you should get a much better dynamic range.

I used Bridge to merge the images into photoshops HDR. Once the images are merge together this is where you can adjust your HDR settings. With this image I only adjusted the detail which I set to around 100%. In photoshop HDR you can go as high as 300% for a surrealistic HDR look. I had wanted a more realistic HDR look so this is why I went with 100% detail. After making your adjustments you will have to save the image. After this I opened the image up in Camera Raw and adjusted the white balance – because the scene had a lot of yellow in it I add some blue to the image is cuts down on the overall yellow tone in the image. I also adjusted the blacks to make sure that the sky and gate looked black. I added some fill light to make sure that the gate stands out as much as possible without adding any noise to the image. I also added a little contrast +10, and a bit of clarity to the image. Below is the final image.


Part 2 on shooting in blowing snow coming soon!

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