Never Let The Weather Deter You
Weather is an all-important factor for any photographer. I'm okay with the notion of getting soaked outdoors for the sake of a good shot, but when you have to use your camera in extremely murky light, you really have to think outside the square.
In those conditions, there's no point using your camera just as you would in bright light and then shaking your head and scrapping every shot when the results are sub-standard. So you just take a different approach and try and shoot your subject with a different emphasis.
If this first shot (and the others that follow it) make you look twice, then I guess I achieved my goal. Simply by looking at the first frame, were you able to correctly identify what I've shot?
Just for the record, it's a US Air Force F-16 Falcon. But this is the story of why you should never despair in unfriendly weather.
Sometimes you have to make a snap decision. You make the judgement call and then you wonder whether you should have taken a different option instead. A couple of weeks ago, an extraneous factor got in the way of my plans to get to the 2009 Australian International Air Show.
I literally had a five-minute window of opportunity to decide whether I would go (chronically late) that evening, or whether I would hold off and go the next morning, giving myself plenty of leisure time at the show, shooting in perfect light.
Friday evening? Or Saturday morning? Friday? Saturday? The weather had changed rapidly on Friday evening and I knew it was going to be very cloudy and hazy by the time I made the long journey to Avalon airport. If I waited until the next day, I would have many hours to explore the show.
If I persisted on Friday, I ran the risk of arriving there at dusk, in unfriendly light. If I chose to postpone my plans and go on Saturday, I would be able to shoot several hundred images in daylight.
Let me put this into context for you. The show is only held every two years, so if for some reason I missed it, I would have to wait until 2011 for the next opportunity.
Accordingly, I made my decision and pressed on. Friday evening it had to be. I caught a V/Line train from Southern Cross station and during the train journey to Avalon, I watched with growing dismay as the quality of light started to deteriorate.
I reached into my camera bag to remove the 18-125mm all-purpose lens that I normally use. Off it came, to be swiftly replaced by my 70-300mm lens. As the last vestiges of blue sky vanished, to be replaced by 360-degree haze, I knew that I would have to rely on fairly tight compositions instead of wide, generous frames of expensive flying machines from every era.
So there I was at the show, in a light drizzle in the swiftly-gathering dusk, trying to shoot an sleek grey supersonic fighter under a glowering grey sky with very little variance in colour. No sunlight. No contrasts. No shadows. No easy answers. So I ducked around the back of the huge open-air enclosure and opted to embrace the fact that this fighter was basically the same colour as the sky.
I decided to shoot the tightest frames possible. And I opted to shoot each composition as a monochrome. As you know, I do not use filters, nor do I edit my photographs in any way. But because I embraced the challenge, I ended up with a set of half-a-dozen or so images that I'll always be proud of.
Oh, by the way, I'm glad I stuck out my neck and went on Friday. The long-awaited rain bucketed down on the weekend.
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