Is sunshine the best weather to photograph in?
There are many weather situations, especially in the north of England, from bright sunshine through pouring rain through to snow and frost.
Sunshine in photos can often be overrated but it does depend on the subject and the reason you’re producing a photo. If you’re photographing a beautiful holiday destination in sunnier climes then sunshine is something you’d really need in your image. This shows the warmth of the sun showing through to give a lovely inviting atmosphere. However harsh midday sunshine does pose challenges creating harsh shadows, blowing out highlights and making colours appear washed out. If you’re photographing people, the lighting can be unflattering on the face. In addition they can often be squinting because of the brightness of the sun.
In the examples above the first image taken in full sunshine with the sun fully on the building is a vibrant image with contrast. This shows the shape of the building and highlights the details making a successful image. The second image has shadows and highlights halfway up the building making the contrast far too much to be usable. To make the most of this beautiful building I would either have to wait until another time of day when the sun is all the way on the building or wait until an overcast day to smooth out the shadows and highlights.
My preference for photographing things, especially buildings, is on overcast days, the clouds act like a large softbox creating soft shadows, reducing the harsh contrast. This creates a beautiful even tone over the image. If you’re photographing people they won’t be squinting with the added bonus of them having complimentary lighting on their faces.
What about rainy days? Rain can cause some challenging situations and if it’s blowing a gale at the same time it can be difficult to photograph. However stormy conditions can give very dramatic photos. This is especially the case if you’re photographing landscapes with amazing storm clouds in the sky. Personally I would avoid heavy rain and stormy weather when photographing buildings. Although I love photographing after it’s been raining as you get beautiful natural reflections on the ground.
Snow and frost can create very calm images especially landscapes often giving beautiful serene images. In the UK there is a very limited amount of time to capture snow or frost images, you have to be in the right place at the right time.
Ultimately the weather conditions and what you photograph depends on how you adapt to the conditions, the subject and what story want your images to tell. Nature provides a wonderful array of weather that, in the right hands, can challenge and create amazing situations to photograph.