When It Rains, Get Out And Shoot!

Grand mountain vistas, spectacular Autumn color, and a beautiful mountain top sunset,

are what I wanted for my trip to the White Mountains to capture fall foliage images this past Sunday, but what I got was rain. Not a heavy rain, but on and off, mostly on, showers all day long. And when it wasn’t raining, there was always a steady drizzle. Not that I minded much, the color in norther New Hampshire was spectacular! And the overcast conditions really made the colors all the more vibrant and saturated. The colors were popping in the Whites, that’s for sure!

Vertical image looking from the base of Silver Cascade in Crawford Notch State Park, Crawford Notch, New Hampshire. Bright autumn foliage in red, yellow, and orange hues line both sides of this tall, narrow waterfall as it desends out of the mist.

Silver Cascade, Crawford Notch, NH.

(Arguably the most spectacular falls in the White Mountains that you can see from your car).

Stay home where it’s dry?

Not likely. With a tight schedule, and a short window of opportunity for the best fall color in White Mountains, I wasn’t about to let a little rain put a damper on my plans. I packed a few towels, several plastic bags of various sizes, and I headed north.

As soon as it became clear that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate, one word popped into my head, “Waterfalls!” New Hampshire’s White Mountains are loaded with waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. I haven’t photographed many of them, and none of them in Autumn, so if I couldn’t capture the mountain top sunset I had hoped for, then a few nice waterfalls surrounded by some spectacular Autumn color would have to do.

Panoramic image of Lower Falls on the Swift River, Kancamagus Highway, NH. Autumns vibrant colors line the far shore of the river, and upstream of the falls.

Lower Falls on the Swift River, Albany, NH. 

(Not quite peak color yet. In the summer, Lower Falls is a very popular swimming hole, and the rocks and water would be covered in people)

Vertical image from the base of Ripley Falls, a red maple leaf rests on a large granit boulder in the foreground

Ripley Falls, Hart’s Location, NH.

(This was my first visit to Ripley Falls, but unfortunately it was a short one. Since the rain was getting a little heavier, I took off my sweatshirt and grabbed my rain jacket. All day long I was constantly using a micro-fiber cloth to wipe rain drops off the front of my lens. I kept the cloth in the front pocket on my sweatshirt, guess where it stayed after the wardrobe change. I was only able to make three exposures before I lost the battle with rain drops on my lens. This was the only “keeper.” In an effort to keep the rain at bay, I held my hat over the lens, so of the three exposures I made, one had my fingers in it, and another had the bill of my hat, both deleted)

Vertical image of Rocky Gorge on the Swift River in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Vibrant fall foliage can be seen on the far bank above the gorge.  

“No Swimming.” Rocky Gorge, Swift River, Albany, NH.

(My favorite image from a wet day in the mountains, and my favorite so far of Rocky Gorge).

Tips for shooting in the rain.

Keep it dry, as much as possible anyway. Unless you have a weather sealed camera body and lenses, try to keep as much moisture from them as possible. While there are many commercially available rain covers on the market, I went the DIY route with large clear plastic bags to help keep the elements at bay. Though if it was only a light drizzle, I just kept a had towel with me to periodically wipe the camera down. I also took the camera out of whatever bag or “rain cover” it had been in and set it on a towel on the car seat while driving between locations, giving the camera a chance to dry out a bit.

Keep a micro-fiber cloth handy, and use it. Constantly check the front element of your lens for water droplets. There isn’t much worse than having to delete that “winner” shot because you didn’t notice the water drop on the lens.

Use a circular polarizer when shooting on rainy, foggy days. It will help remove the glare from wet foliage, and really make the colors pop.

Finally, if it isn’t already, get your gear insured. Adding it to your homeowners or renters insurance is pretty cheap, and takes some of the stress out of shooting in potentially camera killing conditions, knowing that should anything go wrong your gear is covered.

Focus on the intimate.

With even the lowest peaks in the White Mountains with their heads in the clouds, grand scenic images were all but impossible. A good idea is to focus on small portraits of the beautiful color before your eyes.

An intimate portrait of the gorgeous fall color to be seen in New Hampshire's White Mountains. A small stand of bright white birch trees among the vibrant red, yellow, orange, and remaining green, fall foliage.

Be careful, use your head, but most of all, don’t let a little rain keep you from that fall color. It’s only here for a very short time, enjoy it while you can.

 

This is also part of Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Challenge, the theme is Foliage. You can see more entries here.

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42 thoughts on “When It Rains, Get Out And Shoot!

  1. Beautiful job Jeff – even in the rain :). I love the shot with the single bright red leaf in the foreground. Was that there already or did you put it there? Whatever the case, I love how it adds a little burst of colour to the bottom of the scene! I too spent my time out last weekend constantly drying off my lens :).

    • Thanks a lot Cindy. In this case, the leaf was there, as was the one a few boulders into the frame. But I’m not opposed to strategically placing a leaf or two if I think it will add to the photo. As long as it appears natural, a little staging, including removal of an unwanted leaf, is fine by me.

  2. OH JEFF. OMG. Wow. The next-to-last, No Swimming, is a stunner! It’s simply gorgeous! You know how sometimes one photograph just appeals to every little aesthetic you have? Yeah, that one does it for me. It’s PERFECT.

    Absolutely stunning!

    Now I need to know your prices. 🙂 I need this photograph. WOW!

    Brilliant work! Just brilliant!

    • Thank you so much Karina, that one is my favorite of the day as well.

      This photo hasn’t been added to my website yet, but the pricing starts at $10 for a 5″ x 7″ for all my prints. To get an idea of pricing for other sizes, just head on over to http://www.jeffsinon.com. This particular image will be in the Land And Sea gallery very soon.

      And again, thank you for your unbelievably gracious compliments!

    • Thanks Bashar! I used to be terrified that I’d kill my camera if even a drop of water got anywhere near it. Now, as long as it’s just a light rain, I will venture out if there is something worth shooting, like our great fall foliage. And the overcast conditions are great for really making the colors come alive.

  3. Oh man, Jeff, I love that last waterfall shot of yours. The colors in the trees to the right of the image and in the background are beautiful, and as always, the rocks along the water’s edge are so sharp and detailed.

    I really wish I was home in New England so I could have gone on this shoot with you. :/
    Hopefully you’re still feeling up to shooting some frozen falls a little deeper into the winter??!

    I’m taking my camera into the mountains tonight (assuming the weather stays the same) to go shoot some stars and hopefully the Milky Way Galaxy. Nothing bight bright blue sky out right now. I’m excited to try the 11-16 f/2.8 on the night sky! 😀

    Nate

    • Me too! But part of me is glad it’s winding down around here. I need to catch up on some sleep. One too many 3:30 mornings lately 😛

  4. Couldn’t agree with you more Jeff: “When It Rains, Get Out And Shoot!”

    I’ve been shooting some rain shots now and then, but lately I’ve actively gone out with that in mind. Too many photographers are afraid of shooting on the rain and I can totally understand that: most people don’t have waterproof cameras.
    I don’t have one either, but there’s always places with natural cover like caves, tunnels, under large trees or a roof. Alternatively you can bring a helper and a big umbrella.
    You don’t need a waterproof camera – just a waterproof bag.
    Rain changes the light conditions and it can often lift a somewhat dull scenery into something a bit more magic (people just have to remember to check the White Balance settings).

    • A whole list of great tips and ideas Cardinal!

      My 7D isn’t weather sealed either, but I’ve got it insured, and I take precautions. Crappy weather can make for some of the most dramatic photographs, and another plus if you photograph places popular with tourists, the rain keeps them inside and out of the photo 🙂

  5. Excellent tips, Jeff. I’ll have to get busy on that insurance part. Another photographer I know lost her Canon Mark II when the tripod latch failed (she was on a pier), and the camera fell into the water. Beautiful photos, too. I’ve always found that waterfalls photograph best on overcast or rainy days.

    • Thanks again! That would have made me cry, losing a camera like that.

      Definitely, look into insurance, I can’t tell you how much of a stress relief it is knowing it’s there, and even though I treat my gear very well, it allows me to be a little more adventurous as far as weather goes.

      You got the overcast/rainy thing 100% right! That’s why, even though I had to change my plans from a hoped for sunset on a mountain top to waterfalls, and I knew I was going to get wet, there was no way I was staying home. 🙂

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