Street Photography: Bad Weather Shooting

December 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Rain and snow are opportunities for fabulous street photography.  Reflections and illumination from neon, streetlights and cars provide that Bam! effect.  Lens flare and refraction enhance the slant of the rain or snow.  You get to capture the great motion of people rushing to get out of the bad weather.  All fantastic but there is a downside ~~ you are freezing or soaking if you are not properly prepared.  And what about your expensive equipment?

Here are some tips:

  • I always carry a couple of plastic bags just in case there is an unexpected rain shower.  One bag has a hole cut to the lens size and a rubber band to secure it around the lens.  The other plastic bag is if I want to get down on the sidewalk for a low shot.  Cheap way to protect your equipment.
  • Ran over to B&H to check out some rain equipment.  My guy recommended the Kata line of rain cover equipment.  Not cheap but probably a good investment.   For the time being I opted for Op/Tech USA Rainsleeve.  Two to a package and only $6.  They probably won’t last more than 4 or 5 outings but it’s what I could afford at this moment.  Used one today in the snow and it did protect the camera – a bit awkward at first use.
  • Weather proof camera bag –This is street photography not trekking through a rain forest or jumping into the ocean to swim ashore to land.  There are camera bags from several different companies that cover those needs with a wide price range.  For street photography, a bag that is weather proof with an all weather cover included should be sufficient.  If you already have a camera bag that you like, there are all weather covers that you can purchase.
  • Keep one of those little Silica gel packets in your camera bag.  They are meant to absorb moisture.
  • If you plan to be shooting in the rain, carry a small lightweight umbrella to protect your camera as you shoot.  Find dry spots from which to shoot — doorways or under awnings.
  • Carry paper towels just in case your camera gets wet.  ASAP dry your camera. Use that lens cleaning cloth.  Leave the camera out overnight when you get home.  This also goes for when you are shooting in very cold or snowy weather.  Put it in a cool place and leave it out overnight.  The same goes for your camera bag if it gets wet –- let it dry out overnight before putting your camera back in it.

The most precious equipment you have is you!    So dress right:

  • Rain ponchos with hoods are great for bad weather.
  • Hand warmers in your pockets for cold weather aside from gloves/mittens and all the other requisite winter clothing.
  • Moisture proof boots are a must.
  • Baby wipes in a sandwich bag – we street photographers tend to get our hands dirty.
  • Stay out of thunderstorms.
  • Check the weather predictions.

Many years ago, I looked out the window and saw it was snowing.  I immediately called a fellow photographer and said, “Let’s go to Coney Island and shoot.  It’ll be great.”  By the time we got there it was coming down so heavily that you couldn’t see but a foot or two in front.  As we trekked along for just a couple of blocks, I noticed the snow was covering up to my knees.  “Jeez,” I said, “These drifts are high.”  Frozen, we sought shelter and warmth at Nathan’s.  When we got back I turned on the TV and heard the news that the storm was dumping 26 inches of snow.  Luckily we had got one of the last trains out from Coney Island.

Happy and safe shooting!

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