With the UK's recent (and continuing) spate of wet, wild and treacherous weather, we've been privy to some dramatic footage and photographs on the TV, newspaper and Internet. Seeing huge waves crashing over the sea wall and fields saturated with floodwater can inspire you to grab your camera and head out to grab a piece of the action. After all, capturing the power of nature in all its glory can make a pretty spectacular image to print onto canvas and hang on your wall - and there's an added pleasure to be taken from knowing that you took that picture yourself.
However, photographing extreme weather conditions comes with its risks; a little adventure can turn into danger, so you need to be aware and prepared. Here are our tips for staying safe...
- Wrap up - exposure to cold or wet can cause all kinds of problems, so you need to think layers and waterproofing. Thermal underwear is a must, and you can pick up a vest and bottoms for just a few pounds each on eBay or your local bargain store. Waterproof trousers and jacket, a warm fleece and good trousers should be staples, plus a warm scarf or snood.
- Protect your extremities - you lose a lot of heat from your head, so get a good hat. You also need to keep your feet warm and dry, so proper walking socks and sturdy boots are a good bet. Most importantly, you need to keep your hands working and not frozen stiff so you’re able to use your camera functions, so fingerless mitt gloves are ideal.
- Emergency kit - it's worth packing high energy food bars, a torch, a foil blanket, a fully charged mobile phone, water and a whistle - and always make sure someone knows where you're going too.
- Be aware - getting a bit wet for the sake of that ultimate shot may seem a small price to pay, but the sea, strong winds and floodwater can present real risks. You don't want to end up in the winter sea, and still water can hide hidden dangers too. However much you want that gorgeous canvas print on your wall, your safety comes first.
- Careful with that camera – your camera and kit is also at risk of exposure to the elements when you’re photographing in bad weather; take a spare, fully charged battery as this will deplete quicker when it’s cold, and have a good camera case to keep it in between shots. Also, always carry your camera with a neck strap in place in case you slip. It’s also advisable to place your camera in a zip-lock bag before putting it in its case when you’re about to head back indoors – allowing it to warm back up to room temperature slowly will limit condensation which won’t do all those delicate camera parts any good at all!
If you follow these tips, you should be pretty well set-up for your dramatic, natural photography session – just remember that to let the weather provide the drama and not you! Hopefully you’ll capture some truly spectacular shots which you can transfer onto canvas and continue to enjoy from the warmth and comfort of your favourite chair!