Cooperate with Mother Nature

March 3, 2010

Photo Tips

The weather has been all screwy this week here on Maui. We have had scorching sunshine, thick volcanic haze (which we call vog), strong trade-winds, and heavy rain all within a few days. I had to shoot two portraits during heavy rain, and both came out really well. Whew!

We photographers always keep an eye on the local forecast. Regardless of whether we are out to make an image of a person, or a mountain, messy weather can cause stress. So here’s my advice; cooperate with the weather, because you can’t change it.

  • If there are stormy looking skies, try shooting an HDR to enhance the ominous-looking clouds.
  • When the sky is cloudless, a polarizing filter will make colors really gorgeous.
  • During high winds, I enhance the motion blur of things like trees, and hair, and water, within photoshop by painting in some selective horizontal motion blur. This helps create a mood.
  • If there are scattered rain showers, drive until you find the rainbow.
  • If you are surrounded with a thick haze, smog, or vog; be ready for a gorgeous orange sunset.
  • Overcast skies make a wonderful giant softbox when shooting a portrait. Grab a small gold reflector and fill some warm glow onto one side of your subject’s face.
  • In heavy rain, just find a big awning or balcony to work under, and shoot a bunch of fun, experimental stuff, including off-camera flash, of your client. Then offer a second re-shoot as gift to them. They may actually choose the rainy day portrait over the sunny day shots!


This post was written by:

- who has written 13 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Randy is owner of Hawaii’s oldest fine-art photography gallery. He left the world of corporate & medical photography behind 20 years ago to realize his dream of becoming a professional camera artist. He is an avid outdoorsman who proclaims, “My tent is my castle, and my kayak is my limousine.” You can visit Randy’s website at

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5 Responses to “Cooperate with Mother Nature”

  1. Kirk Shorte Says:

    Good tips, thanks Randy. Over on the Kona side we often have Voggie days capped with orange sunsets… I’ve captured some nice sunsets despite the lack of blue skies.


  2. Neka Says:


    This is really great advice, I will be using this for sure. Thank you!


  3. Randy Says:

    Thanks Neka and Kirk! See you guys soon, I hope!


  4. Roland Pfeifer Says:


    Great tips. Keep ’em coming. Just got Photoshop CS$ and lightroom 2. I have lots to learn. Looking to upgrade my equipment from my trusty old Olympus E-500 DSLR (5 years old) to something better (Looking at the new Nikon D7000). Most friends are packing Canons. I need some faster lenses. Any suggestions?

    Your shots of Rachel & Duke’s wedding (saw them on her blog) were very nice. Such a nice couple.

    Your boot camp sounds great but a little out of my reach right now.

    Been in your shop many times. Very nice! Hope buisiness is good for you.

    All the best.

    Rol Pfeifer
    Morgan Hill, CA



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