Like any landscape photographer worth their salt, I do my "nature homework" before a shoot. I check the weather forecasts. I look up the sunrise and sunset times. I know where the sun will rise and set in the sky. I consult the tide charts. And so on and so on...

Of all these things, the weather forecast is most important to me. I thrive on partly cloudy skies, when there's something in the sky to catch the sunlight and throw off palettes of color. Overcast days aren't bad either since the light is diffused and softer. Rain is rarer in Southern California, and we don't usually get dramatic, stormy skies. An occasional downpour, but it's more of a gray void that spits rain all day long.

Knowing the weather helps me prepare for the shoot. For boring skies, be it solid blue or gray, I'll de-emphasize the sky in the frame. That means I will need a strong foreground subject. On those partly cloudy days, I'm watching the sky, waiting for those bursts of color.

No matter what the weather forecast calls for, I will go out on location with the intent to shoot. And recently I was reminded of how having this philosophy let's me capture some great pictures. 

A few weekends ago, I'd made plans to meet another local photographer for a sunrise shoot along the shores of La Jolla. As the weekend approached, the forecast called for rain. All day. He asked me if I was still planning to go. I replied I was. I'll make the drive and see the actual weather conditions on location. Pre-dawn was abysmal. Steady rain. Not a downpour, yet umbrella worthy. Solid gray skies. Cold. Dank. At sunrise, it was not much better. The skies were a slightly lighter shade of gray. The rains lighten some.

And then it happened. Thirty minutes after sunrise, the rain stopped. The clouds loosened their grip on the sky. Color creeped in. Beautiful, soft, diffused light. These conditions continued for about an hour. It was one of the most relaxed paced sunrise shoots I've been on in quite a while.

If I'd not made the trip, I would have missed out. Big time. And I'm also very glad my new friend Joe made the trip down as well. It was a great morning of shooting.

So... do the homework, know the conditions, get the ideas flowing in your head. Then go shoot.. And then never mind the weather.

/ January 2015 /