When travelling, we usually hope for the most amazing weather conditions, no matter if we go skiing, surfing or sunbathing. Good light is even more important for another one of our favorite activities: Photography. But no matter how carefully we plan and how well we prepare, you can’t change the weather. Probably all of us have spent a vacation either mostly indoors or huddled underneath umbrellas.

On a recent trip to Copenhagen, the weather did not only destroy my hopes of getting a good impression of the city – the fog actually limited the sight so much that it was impossible to even gaze across the river. While I’m still disappointed with rainy and foggy weather like this, I’ve learned a few basic tricks that help to make the most out of your photos. Besides carefully selecting what to photograph, bad weather shots almost always require some touch-ups later on, such as adjustments regarding lights, contrasts, and color saturation.

So here are the four C’s:

1. Colors
The world seems to have lost all it’s beautiful colors once you’re trapped in thick fog. Every now and then you might spot a traffic light or someone passing by but the misty curtain will quietly swallow everything again. Now, what to do? A simple splash of color will do wonders for your pictures. Go look for lights, signs, doors, bikes, ballons, … whatever will add a lively touch to the photo. Red and blue are said to be the most effective eye catchers. And even though there might still be brightly colored holiday snaps in the mind’s eye, don’t attempt to create a photo that looks sunny-ish. Make use of the eerie atmosphere and use it to your advantage. The photos might not be your average vacation shots but being trapped in fog doesn’t match the usual vacation concept either.

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2. Contrasts
This one is similar to the color tip: Keep your eyes open for light/dark contrasts. If you’re in a place that lacks color, try to make use of silhouettes or shadows from streetlights, for example, to add more depth to the otherwise dull picture. Feeling artsy? Photos with strong and interesting contrasts look great in black and white.

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3. Clouds
Even though I’m a fan of steel blue summer skies, I have to admit I love clouds – not so much the even low lying layers of cotton but rather the fluffy fair-weather clouds. And when it comes to the most photogenic backdrop, storm clouds definitely take home the prize for best dramatic appearance. Clouds to not only affect mood and atmosphere but hugely contribute to a photo’s depth. From what I have experienced, “cloud photos” require more sensitive camera adjustments and editing to fully bring out the details. When taking the photo, try to keep in mind to adjust the exposure settings according to the lightest spots in the photo to capture the full tonal value. You can always manually brighten dark areas but never bring back overexposed ones. For those low light bad weather shots it usually works best to seperately work on sky and ground anyway.

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06_storm-clouds

4. Change of Perspective
Fog and rain narrow our field of vision but then again also challenge us to change our point of view. For example, the tiny drops of water in the fog reflect bright lights amazingly well. Puddles serve as a natural mirror. And even if some rain drops make it onto the lens of your camera, the effects can be stunning.

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All photos by Cordula Schaefer.

Cordula SchaeferCordula Schaefer is a photography enthusiast who loves to venture out to explore new places and hardly ever leaves the house without a camera. A New Yorker at heart, she is especially fond of city trips and has a soft spot for beautiful beachscapes. She currently bases herself in Berlin and keeps the visual documents of her travels at Cordugram.