Good Foliage in Bad Weather: Viewing and Photography Tips

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Good Foliage in Bad Weather: Viewing and Photography Tips

Post: # 9719Post ixl
Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:18 am

Okay, so the weather is going to suck for the next week or so. If you have the flexibility to control when you go foliage viewing, you might be better off waiting, but if you have a trip planned it doesn't need to be a... washout.

Here's a few quick tips to keep in mind.

Dancing Between the Raindrops

When you look at the weather forecast on the Web you see little icons for each day indicating what to expect. And right now you probably see clouds and rain for a solid week. But that doesn't mean it is going to rain continuously for that entire time.

One key to enjoying foliage in bad weather is to figure out when it is not going to rain, and do your viewing or photo shooting then. The best tool for this is a laptop or handheld device that allows you to bring up a radar loop. This shows you where it is raining and where the rain is headed. With proper planning and flexibility you can find breaks in the weather to get out and enjoy.

For short term radar viewing, I recommend the National Weather Service Burlington radar loop. For a longer term view, try Intellicast.

In general, rain will continue moving in the direction it currently is, and that's usually west to east. There's no guarantee that new showers won't pop up, but this is at least a good estimate.

Get Close

Bad weather reduces visibility due to the moisture in the air, and cloud cover can obscure mountaintops and long views. Your best bets for enjoying foliage are to "get up close and personal".

Drive on winding roads that get you near the foliage, not the highways where it is miles away.

If there is fog, stick to the lower elevations which are often under the fog layer.

Don't be afraid to get out of the car. Bring appropriate clothing and plan properly and you'll be fine -- a little water never killed anybody.

Keep Busy with Activities

Don't sit around moping during the really bad weather -- there is lots to see and do in Vermont aside from foliage. Go shopping, take in a show, dine at a nice restaurant... use your imagination. Or just relax at the hotel for a day, which is a nice treat in and of itself.

Photography Tips

You can take superb photos of foliage during bad weather, but the number one key is to try to take the right types of photos. If you try to "force the issue" by trying to take good weather photos in bad weather, they will come out poorly.

So instead of grand vistas with lots of sky (which will look gray and drab), take photos that are complemented by wet conditions. These include close up nature scenes, rivers, waterfalls, fall displays (flowers and harvest scenes), individual leaves, water droplets on foliage, village scenes -- there's lots out there to shoot.

A few specific tips:

1. A polarizing filter is a must to cut glare off wet, reflective surfaces.

2. Bad weather means dark conditions -- use a sturdy tripod if possible, or increase your ISO (sensitivity) to ensure you have enough shutter speed.

3. The lack of sun means the sky will be much brighter than the ground (including the foliage). If you take shots with lots of sky in them your camera may auto-expose for the sky and leave you with dark foliage. Try to minimize the amount of sky in your compositions, if possible, or adjust the camera appropriately.

4. Rain on the front of your lens is a killer. It will create visible distortions in your shots. Use a lens hood to keep it off, and a lens cap until you are just ready to shoot.

5. I have sometimes gotten good shots from my car when it was raining... roll the window down and you can shoot while staying dry.

6. Bring with a towel to dry off your camera if it gets a bit wet. As long as it isn't drenched, the rain will not damage most cameras.

7. A friend holding an umbrella can be a friend indeed. :)
Charles Kozierok -

View Autumn Scenes from Southern Vermont (2003), my free, 75-image foliage gallery!

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Post: # 9724Post GIC
Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:40 am

Hi ixl
Excellent information. Wish I had those weather sites before.
I got some good shots yesterday in the bad weather. You never know what you will get in adverse weather conditions.
Thanks for that info. I have them bookmarked.


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Post: # 9727Post From_the_NEK
Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:45 am

Local Knowledge tip: If you don't have a laptop to bring with you and you are somewhere near East Burke, Bailey's and Burke (the courty store across from the gas station) has a computer with free access to the internet.

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Post: # 9741Post lirwin13
Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:18 am

Thanks for the advice. I was actually going to post and ask if anyone had ideas for areas/locations which may be ideal with the rainy conditions forecast for this weekend. I'm still trying to decide it it's worth the expense of the hotel this weekend or if I should just make a long day trip on Saturday and hope the weather improves for Columbus Day weekend.
One other photography tip... it was once suggested to me to stock up on hotel shower caps - they make a great cover for your camera in the rain, and you can leave just the lens exposed without worry that the rest of the camera will get wet.
Last edited by lirwin13 on Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post: # 9747Post pwt54
Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:43 am

On rainy days I drive the back roads. The foliage is closer to you. I call these days 'object" days. I look for barns, covered bridges, and critters with nice foliage nearby.

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Post: # 9749Post faxmachineanthem
Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:47 am

Great tips, thanks! If the weather is as bad as expected this weekend, I plan on hitting Groton State Forest and maybe some waterfalls.

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Post: # 9751Post Andy
Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:51 am

Laura - shower caps are a good idea. Even better, garbage bags. I always carry some "kitchen size" bags and a couple of the lawn and leaf bags with me. In a "pinch" the larger ones will even work as a poncho (though it does help to punch out a spot for the neck and head :)

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

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Post: # 9755Post pwt54
Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:04 am

Garbage Bags; aww, the good old days of outdoor rock concerts.

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