Photography in the rain     

 

 

Last Sunday was cool and rainy. I had wandered a bit outside, but only long enough to feed my chickens and move some wooden chairs under a canopy so they wouldn’t get wet in the downpour.

Mostly, I just wasn’t interested in the rain or the cool light breeze and by noon I was content to just sit listening to music, and had just started a beer when there was a knock and my door and my friend Jo McAvany’s smiling face appeared through the window.

Some years ago one might have heard, “Can John come out and play?”   I really didn’t, I was enjoying the blues music and my beer on that rainy day. However, Jo had her camera and I knew I didn’t have much of a chance. She said, “How about we wander around, I want to take some pictures in the rain.

Ten minutes later we were ambling around pointing our cameras at features that on a sunny day might not have given us as interesting and creative photographs.

There are some cameras that are almost waterproof. A Nikon advertisement I once read stated that some models are, “splash proof’. Nevertheless, my main accessory for a rainy day is an old kitchen T-towel for wiping the rain off my camera. Every now and then I give my camera a wipe so the rain doesn’t accumulate, and continue on.

Shooting in the rain is one time that I enjoy a modern camera’s ability to use high ISO. Back in the painful days of film we were limited to 400ISO with colour film. There were a few black and white films that were rated at 3200, but their ability to give photographers reasonable image quality wasn’t all that good.

Wide scenic photos aren’t very pleasing in the overcast flat lighting, so we concentrated on more intimate and close-up subjects. Both Jo and I were using 70-200mm lenses that focused reasonably close. Not macro close, but close enough for us to confine and restrict the view.

Cloudy days always seem to be more colourful for plant photography, and there is something about green leaves and grasses on rainy days that attract me.

I once read, “one should embrace the rain’s infinite photo opportunities”. I like that. Photographing in the rain gives the photographer the chance to explore a whole new world that on a sunny, shadow filed day is invisible. The raindrops and the wet subjects are so inviting.

I know those gray clouds can be disappointing. However, keep a positive attitude. Sure there is a strong possibility that your hair and the knees of your pants are going to get wet, but in my opinion, wet knees are certainly worth the voyage. And remember you don’t have to go far, and with a bit of creative thinking and preparation you’ll be out having fun making photos, even in wet weather.

 

A road trip to Peachland.

      Lakefront view

Peachland town clock

Boat dock flag

Orange wall with green lamp   Wall lamp

Church window

Roof stars

My friend Dave called and said, “Want to go on a road trip to Peachland tomorrow?”

Peachland is an easy two and a half hour drive south from my home in Pritchard along highway 97 and although the elevation of both Pritchard and Peachland is the same at 1,180 feet, it is still quite cold at my house with lots of snow, while Peachland was a balmy +13c with slowly greening grass along the road and the lakefront.

So without hesitation I agreed, and when Dave parked his truck in my snow packed driveway at 9am the next morning, I was ready with a 18-200mm lens mounted on my camera and we drove south through the wide Okanagan valleys toward Peachland.

I like the small community that is mostly located on a hillside beside the 135 km long Okanagan Lake and always enjoy wandering its lake front street with my camera. In the summer the restaurants, shops and park are filled with people, but this time of year it is easy to get photographs without anyone getting in the way and I walked back and forth across the street while photographing interesting features on the buildings without worrying about cars.

Dave had his 150-500mm Sigma and began photographing some ducks and fifty or so American Coots (I think some them Mud ducks) swimming in the small boat harbor.

As we stood talking in the warm sun I looked across the lake trying to see the infamous Rattlesnake Island, where the legendary Ogopogo is said to have it’s home.

Ogopogo is the name given to a 40 to 50 foot long sea monster allegedly seen in Okanagan Lake since the 19th century. However, because the evidence is limited to blurry photographs, unbelievers suggest that the sightings are misidentifications of common animals like big otters or floating logs.

I like mysteries and I thought how nice it would be to get a nice sharp picture of that elusive beast with my 18-200mm.  Heck, I’d even share he moment with my friend Dave. After all, he had a 150-500mm lens and surely get a closer picture than me. But the Ogopogo monster wasn’t interested in getting it’s picture taken and was most likely hiding out of site in the lake depths. So, with a disappointed sigh, I left my friend to photograph the cute little Coots and walked down the street to get a picture of the town clock.

I have mentioned before that I like photographing buildings, and strolling along sidewalks with my camera, in cities, large or small is exhilarating. Whether the architecture is low and flat, skyscraping, old bricked, wooden or shiny metal and glass, I always find something different to photograph.

This time I was a bit hurried, we wanted get home before dark and Dave had almost another hour to go after dropping me off. So I ran back and forth trying to limit my photos to shadows, roof ledges and windows. Ok, I strayed from that goal a bit, oh well. Anyway I expect to be back soon.

Summer is on its way and wife and I expect to do some driving around British Columbia. My short trips will always include architectural photography opportunities in the towns and cities I visit and I think its fun to change the visual story by picking out intimate features or only a small part of a scene instead of making a photograph of the whole structure.

I always enjoy comments. Thanks, John

My website is at www.enmanscamera.com

Predictions on photography from 1974

I happened on the May 1974 issue of Photo World Magazine, that in this day of fast changing camera technology and constant predictions in online photography forums was very interesting to read. In it was an article entitled “Tomorrow’s Camera: Report from Japan.”

The magazine article first discussed what would be the “next major technological breakthrough in Japanese-manufactured SLRs…a solid-state shutter, which would make cameras less prone to jamming, ”  and praised that break through. (That, of course happened years ago.)

The article was written by Tony Chiu and went on to discuss further topics. 

On Miniaturization – “The manufacturers had misgivings about reducing the current dimensions of their SLRs because the decreasing weight reduced protection against shutter vibration.”

On Lenses – “It is conceivable that 10 years from now a compound lens may weigh more than the SLR body. (my comment – a compound lens is one that has several elements, like all of our lenses have now) Although light weight plastic lenses have long been an industry dream, there is today no major research toward their development.” (Even now one really has to spend a lot of money to get a digicam with a real glass lens, and plastic non glass lenses are the norm.) 

The article also mentioned that electronic shutter cameras “in the next decade” would be an  “expensive option available only to top-of-the-line models.”  I am amazed at the changes that have happened since 1974 that the writer of that article, or any of the rest of us, never imagined that even inexpensive cameras would have electronics as they do today?

I found the next part is really interesting. Each of the companies was asked what their cameras of the future would be.

Canon – Suichi Ando visualized a portable camera small enough “to be carried in the pocket”, and capable of using 35mm film. Such an instrument would have a “universal lens, which can be changed by the flip of the finger from microphotography to telephotography.”

Nikon – Takateru Koakimoto said that the perfect camera would be one that excludes the chance of human error: “It will be fully automatic, perhaps with a small computer to control the exposure.”  I say that he wasn’t far off in his prediction. 

Olympus – Yoshihisa Maitanni believed the ideal camera would have a universal lens and one button will wind the film, focus the picture, frame the image and make the perfect exposure.  He also thought “Images will be projected directly on to a sensitized material, fully edited, and enlarged.”

Ricoh – Tomomasu Takeshita predicted that major advances in the film industry would reduce the film size. “Within 20 years the 16mm camera will replace today’s 35mm camera.” Such an instrument, as he saw it, would be considerably smaller and simpler – it would have a one-piece plastic lens in a partial return to the “pinhole concept” as well as an “electronic crystal” shutter.”

 

Yashica – Nobukazu Sato’s dream was one that would not utilize film. “Just put the paper into the camera, make the exposure, pull the paper out and spray it.” Such a camera would make use of ultraviolet rays, and would also feature a universal lens and a fully automatic focusing system.  (Both Ricoh and Yashica are no longer making cameras).

The writer of the article continued on to say “Will we see such marvels in or lifetime?”

“Perhaps by the end of this century” a photographer’s choice could be  “For the amateur, a single lightweight compound lens will replace three or four of today’s standard lenses. “And price – as it is today (1974) – will remain just within reach at the upper end of your budget.”

Digital camera technology wasn’t even a dream in 1974. Yes, photographers could have their photographs printing digitally, and I remember having that done by a local printer. The paper was flimsy, but the prints were very cheap and worked fine for the underground newspaper I took pictures for. However, there was no way to take pictures only reproduce them.  I can remember one of my first full time jobs working as a photographer for the California Office of Education in 1972 I bought myself the newest and coolest Pentax camera, a Spotmatic II.  There weren’t any zoom or auto focus lenses at that time and the batteries it used aren’t even made today. Will the cameras that we think are amazing today even be around in 20 years? I wonder what the future will bring? 

www.enmanscamera.com