Outdoor Photography Part 1: Weather Rules the roost!
Outdoor Photography Part 1: Weather rules the Roost!
With spring teasing us into thinking about summer, the desire to enjoy the outdoors that makes Oregon amazing is surging in our blood. This is in in turn a part of photography in Oregon and should be embraced!!! We have had several successful sessions already this season in the beauty that is constantly changing in a dynamic show for everyone to see. When planning for an outdoor photography session remembering who is really in charge in the spring is important.
TIP #1: Flexibility is Key.
When developing a schedule, pick one that could be flexed 5-7 days. This is based upon the experiences of looking at weather systems and understanding the effects of climate and geography. Some of the microclimates in the Willamette Valley change timing and the outcome of storms. Your efforts as a client and those of the photographer are to be an amateur weather person or find a weatherperson who has a great track record.
Our weather for the most part west of Portland come from the Pacific Ocean and is modified by the proximity to the Coast Range of Oregon. As you move from West to East through the Portland Metropolitan region the urban environment begins to change the weather (Slightly warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer) along with the Willamette River causing fog and cloud cover to hold longer that in the west and east of the city. As you get east of Portland the Columbia Gorge can cause east winds in the spring, which can be cold and somewhat extreme.
With that all being said understanding that working together as a client and photographer to find a date that can be flexible to wait out a weather pattern to pass or during a time of day that will be the most conducive for light and fog is just as important. I set dates based upon weather forecasts such as the Weather Channel website information focused upon the location desired, by zip code (https://weather.com/weather/tenday/l/USOR0075:1:US). Being specific with the forecast location is major here as the difference from our town of Cornelius, OR and Downtown Portland could be an hour for rain forecasting. If cloud cover is going to be consistent you could also loose sunlight earlier and be trying to shoot outdoors in the dark….. NOT desired unless you’re going to be looking for that type of session.
Having a 5-7 day window lets you move the session if possible to be between rain, wind, and or snow, which we can have in the spring. The options are then given to the client and weighed out. Finding covered areas can help but as we all know the desire is for nature, rather than under a shelter, but the options for utilizing the fireplaces that many of our parks have are also gorgeous. The weather service also has an hourly view of the weather, which can be fairly accurate for 48 hours as long as you can do some interpretation of the information. For example if the chance of rain is increasing from one hour to the next you can think that the storm is coming into the area and that the chance of rain is higher as the hours get closer together. This is seen with a report like this one.
The storm is coming into the area in the 8pm hour with the real chance for rain in the 9pm hour I would guess closer to 10pm. The percentage of rain is just the chance of rain during that hour not necessarily at the top of the hour. So the percentages are covering the error rate for the weather if that makes sense.
If the percentages are reversed and your trying to have a session as a storm is going away then picking a time in the last half hour of the time will be better than picking a time at the top of the hour. So in this example the rain will probably be continuing from 10am till 11:30 or so, but always a guess. That may seems like a small window but if your schedules are busy that may mean the difference between having a session and needing to cancel.
People want amazing photographs and the idea of being in a storm is just not going to be great artwork and even grey sky could be enough to ruin the session. As a client understanding that you need to have some flexibility for weather, rain, snow, wind, cold or heat is critical. As a photographer your equipment is also at risk along with your hard work. Being willing to reschedule is important and being able to be understanding about weather and find dates that will create amazing outdoor photography will make for an amazing experience.