Bad Weather

The more photography I do : the more convinced I am that there is no such thing as bad weather! I'm just back from the isle of Harris, conducting a workshop there, and everyone as usual, put 110% into getting out there - regardless of the weather to shoot some of the most dramatic light I've seen in ages.

Eigg, this winter in a Storm

The most dramatic images are often shot on the edge of a storm, either when the storm is coming in, or when the storm has just passed over. It's an exciting time to be out there with the camera, braving the elements.

One thing I keep coming across is participants timidness at using their cameras in wet weather: I've yet to see a camera malfunction in even the wettest of weather. It's amazing when I hear people go on about having a camera body with full weather sealing: it's marketing hype. So long as you're not stupid with your camera, then most of them will be more than fine in bad weather. The only things you need to watch out for are keeping it out in prolonged rain, and drying it off each night. It's wise to take it out of the camera bag and let the moisture in the air that's been around the camera evaporate off.

I remember in 2001 going up a glacier in New Zealand for the entire day with my Mamiya 7 and lenses stuck in some pockets in the 'waterproof' jacket. Let's first get rid of this notion that things are 'waterproof'. There is only a certain amount of rain that something will take before it starts to leak. 7 hours late, I got back to the base of the glacier with the camera completely soaked right through. I sat it in the sun the following day and watched all the condensation evaporate off the lens elements. 7 years later I was still using the very same Mamiya 7 outfit......

This brings me onto another topic : clothing. I keep getting people turn up to the workshops with goretex trainers. Goretex is not the answer to everything and I personally don't rate it. You're better off with a pair of wellington boots, or a pair of leather walking boots that are waterproof to ankle level. I use a pair of Scarpa boots - the tongue of the boot does not have any gap between it and the rest of the boot - it is essentially one big leather surround going right up over my ankle. I use Snow Seal (I heat the leather boot in the oven for 5 minutes) and rub in the Sno' Seal into the warm leather so it is absorbed. It makes for a very durable boot for climbing over coastal landscapes and walking through really boggy ground.

You have to get out there with your camera. If you're coveting the beast and putting it away the moment the rain comes on - you're doing yourself and your camera a disservice.