The Detailed Weather Planning of a Pro Landscape Photographer and How It Leads to Better Photos

Join a professional landscape photographer while he is planning the weather for his next photo tour.
In last week's video, I showed up why common weather services and weather apps are not accurate enough for me as a professional landscape photographer. In this week's video, I made a whole weather plan for a fantastic sunrise shooting.

Google Earth is such a fantastic tool to look for vantage points, which gives us a great base for a vista shoot. In this case, I decided to hike up this mountain for shooting this nice mountain scenery below at sunrise. What I was looking for now, was a day without low clouds, without fog or mist, to have a clear view down to the lakes.

Reading Between the Lines on Weather Maps

All the common weather services, weather apps, and even the weather maps showed me unmistakably a 100 percent chance for a clear sky for two days later. Clear sky is not the first weather scenario most landscape photographers would go for, though, but a mountain scene, like you see above on Google Earth, could look just breathtaking, with subtle side light from the right illuminating all the mountains and valleys. What a wonderful story the image would tell.

Over the years, I have learned that weather forecasts are not all too often right. I used them just as a rough prefix over a long time, but weather maps offer me a much better option: to read between the lines. Weather maps simply show my alternative weather scenarios and with a little bit of experience, it gets easy to estimate the chance for each variation.

Never Trust a Weather Forecast You Haven’t Made by Yourself

There was a clear sky predicted though, but I saw that wind from the west would bring us lots of moisture the day before and that the humidity would get quite high, around 80 percent, for some hours before my planned shooting. I was sure that there would be some fog built in the area I planned to photograph, which wasn’t mentioned in any weather service. As there was high pressure predicted, the question was just if it was high enough to hold the fog down in the valley at around 600 meters sea level or if it would rise to my camera position at around 1,000 meters.

How the Weather Maps Affected My Planning

Weather predictions are never 100 percent right. This is why it is such a big advantage to have more versions of weather maps. My plan A was to photograph the vista I showed you above. But it was possible that the mist would rise to my camera position, making the vista shoot not possible anymore, as there would be no clear view down to the valleys. But when mist rises to your camera position, chances are high that it could turn into fog. And fog is such an awesome ingredient for woodland photography. As I saw on Google Maps that there were lots of trees up there, I was sure that it would work fantastically to photograph some awesome woodland scenes in that case.

Finally, I saw a 40 percent chance to get the clear sky to photograph the vista, which was my plan A, another 40 percent chance to get fog up there to photograph woodland scenes, which was my plan B. But as I saw in the weather maps that the air pressure was decreasing over the next days and I knew that predicted conditions can come earlier or later, I saw also a 20 percent chance that the fog would rise even higher so that I would have higher mist instead of fog. This was the worst-case scenario, as I didn’t see a possibility to get fantastic photographs up there in that case. Plan C was just to do a bit of location scouting up there.

Planning like that is only possible by using weather maps. And finally, whereever I go, I'm always prepared for the weather and can get fantastic photographs.

Find many more details on how I planned using weather maps with lots of tips about weather prediction in the above-linked video.

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1 Comment
Tammie Lam's picture

It reminded me this ;)
[Whatever you do - just don't take any weather advice from this guy]