Bad Weather, Good Photography. Really.

Several years ago, I went to Inner Mongolia, China,  to photograph the beautiful rolling hills of the vast grassland.  One day I was calling my mother from the hotel, and she asked:  “How is the weather?”

“Blue sky every day.”  I told her.

“Great! You must be very happy.”  Mom said.

“No! I am very disappointed!”   I replied.

Landscape photography and “good” sunny weather are like oil and water. They normally do not mix well.  For the most part, the featureless blue skies are very boring and do not add much interest to the picture. In addition, the light under such conditions is often flat.

When the weather looks menacing, however, it is often the best time for landscape photography.  The sky is often filled with dramatic clouds. The weather often changes rapidly, creating fast-changing, theatrical light conditions, and landscape photography is all about light.  In fact, “Bad weather means good photography is the slogan of most landscape photographers.

Here is one picture as an example.  I was shooting the legendary Colorado fall colors a few years ago. My trip was not very productive, as most leaves were gone because of an expected early storm.  To pour salt to the wound, the weather was not cooperating. I had cloudless blue sky day after day.

The weather started to change during the last day of my trip.  On that morning, my buddy John and I woke up to a gloomy autumn morning. It was cold and drizzling. However we did not give up. We drove to this previously-scouted location, and waited in the rain. It was way past the sunrise time but the rain did not stop. Then all of sudden this beautiful double rainbow appeared right before our eyes. What an experience!  We managed to capture a few frames before it went away.

Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40mm F4 L, CPL, soft GND, two images stitched together.
Double Rainbow and Fall Colors

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