Spring is time of renewal, an annual renaissance. Snow and ice give way to the tender shoots of the first buds of spring. Our winter hibernation is coming to an end, and the early spring photographer is richly rewarded for their effort. Spring brings rapidly changing and sometimes volatile weather, so make sure you are aware of the forecast before setting out. Dressing for success means layering for wind, water and mud (yes this is mud season) protection. Once you have the basics covered, it’s time to start making the most of these seasonal changes - rain, clouds and some sunny days - and get some great spring photos.
Tip: Pack rain gear for your camera. Use all-weather camera bags and always have some sort of protection, even if it’s just a garbage bag and zip locks, ready in case a sudden shower. If you forget camera protection, consider that your rain jacket is easier and less expensive to dry out than your camera. Be creative, but don't let your camera gear get wet.
Early Morning Dew and raindrops
Early morning showers or dew make spider webs, leaves, and flowers into prisms of light and reflection. Whether you are shooting abstract compositions with a macro lens or capturing the first rays of sunlight dancing off an open field, dewy early mornings are richly rewarding for the intrepid early riser. Later in the day, spring showers sparkle like diamonds on new buds, making the same shot into a vibrant kaleidoscope of colors.
Tip: A macro lens allows you to get in close and show the delicate texture of the objects. Using a small tripod with your macro lens frees you to concentrate on your composition and depth of field (f/16 or greater).
Overcast or Cloudy days
The light on overcast (cloudy) days is even and subdued, so your subject and the surrounding landscape take on subtle soft colors. The lack of direct sunlight makes these overcast days perfect for shooting early spring grasses and wildflowers. The soft light and lack of sun allow you to shoot at almost any angle to compose unusual images with no risk of harsh shadows. This lack of shadow makes cloudy days ideal for macro (up-close) photography. So find a spot filled with wildflowers or early spring grasses, get low to the ground (you are dressed for any condition, right?) to find the unique patterns of nature, and start snapping away.
Tip: Bring a backpacker’s therm-a-rest with you to sit or lay on while taking macro photos. It will provide some cushion and will protect you from the damp, cold ground.
Mist and Fog
Mist and fog add an otherworldly look, but this can be difficult to capture on film. Bracket your exposures for the best chance at a show-stopping photograph since fog plays havoc with your camera’s built-in light meter. Mist and fog compositions work well with a wide-open landscape and a single point of interest placed off-center or in a tunnel or building effect. If you are photographing animals, try shooting them walking into the frame or appearing from the mist. If you are shooting with a digital camera, you’ll have a tremendous amount of control in the processing, allowing you to get your white balance and exposure just right. It’s also fun to experiment with your PhotoShop filters and effects tools on mist and fog shots.
Tip: “Bracketing” means taking many shots of the same scene at different settings.