When “Bad” Weather Makes For Great Photo Opps

Crane Photo by Scott Bourne

When “Bad” Weather Makes For Great Photo Opps


I am in New Mexico for a month, photographing, teaching and speaking at Bosque del Apache, National Wildlife Refuge.

The weather has been all over the place down here. One day it was 71 degrees, and the next, 44 degrees. High winds, rain, fog, you name it, we’ve had it.

Experienced photographers know that “interesting” weather can make for some great photo opportunities.

It’s important to go out there with your camera, even when the weather conditions don’t seem to match up with what most people consider to be “good.”

One morning, I left the hotel early because we were socked in. I knew it was foggy enough that I might need extra time getting to the refuge. When I arrived, things looked pretty bleak. Visibility was about 50 feet, if that.

I took my group out to the “crane pools” (Wetlands Roost) at the northern most edge of the refuge. It was nearly black as the sun was coming round the mountain. Several people near us packed up and left. As tempting as breakfast at Sofia’s sounded, my experience told me to wait it out. We started to see some clearing, but there was still a great deal of mist.

Even though it looked like there was nothing to work with, patience paid off and we got a 10-15 minute window when the light filtered through and allowed an exposure through the mist.

Since I have been focusing on pictorial style here in Bosque this was a perfect chance to practice that. I am super happy with the result and it shows how waiting pays off.

Crane Photo by Scott Bourne

As a side note, there are all kinds of “bad” weather. Sometimes it’s not really bad, it’s just bad for photography. While New Mexico is known for its big skies full of clouds,
ee haven’t had a super colorful sunset at Bosque for a few days. I was tired and was tempted to not go out for sunset when I noticed not a cloud in the sky. That usually means the only sunset you can find will be a golden one. But I did go out because I decided a golden sunset might be nice if I could find a lone bird to silholute.

Sandhill Crane Photo by Scott Bourne


The sky was boring but we did have some golden color for a few minutes me and my group focused on photographing backlit cranes. This lone Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) made for a nice subject.


The moral of the story is get off the couch, go out, and get ready to make photographs, even if it’s not looking like conditions are great. Some might say ESPECIALLY if it’s not looking good. You can’t make a killer shot unless you have a camera in your hand. Good luck.

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