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As with most things in life, photography is first about mastering your craft. Get your fundamentals right, specialize, expand, innovate, practice, get depressed at your results, iterate, practice, and get depressed again. And then, just like other things in life, its a whole lotta luck: being at the right place at the right time, and being as prepared as you can be to grab the opportunity.
Below are 6 examples of being at the right place at the right time, when it comes to weather. Photographs that would have sucked if taken in broad daylight. Photographs that get elevated because of really inclement weather.
Fog @ Toledo, Spain
Spectacular even during mid-day, this view of Toledo across the Tagus river gorge really jumps to life at dusk with the setting sun hitting the city facade from behind the viewer, or the city lights fighting for prominence against the deep blue evening sky. But on this winter morning, the descending fog from the dew-ridden plains of Spain, made the colors other-wordly, and the atmosphere mysterious.
Fog @ Auschwitz, Poland
Usually slammed with tourists, even after crowd control, we were lucky to experience the solitude and gravity of Auschwitz on a gray, bitter cold, windy, rainy, and foggy morning of December 31. Thin tourist attendance, a harsh walk through the bitter rain and cold, and the solemn mood due to the fog, added deeply to our experiences that day.
Blazing sunset @ Meteora, Greece
We visited the region of Meteora right before the intense heat of the central European summers kicked into high gear. Visiting the stunning monasteries perched high above these meteoric stone outcrops was truly a once in a lifetime experience, but the beating sun and the packed tourist buses definitely subtracted from the walking tours. The first evening turned out to be disappointing as thick clouds covered the entire valley, and even though they brought in the much needed heat relief, the situation was less than ideal for photography. Luckily we had decided to stick around this region for 2 evenings. On the second evening, the clouds parted slightly and the sunset drenched the entire valley in the most fluorescent yellows, greens and oranges our retinas had seen.
Rain @ Kyoto, Japan
Mid-winter in Japan is rainy, snowy and ranging from bitterly cold to slightly uncomfortably cold depending upon where you happen to be. Kyoto seemed to mimic the Northern California climate – pleasant most of the time, but drenched in downpours every once in a while. Good isolation on jackets and handy umbrellas were a must. On one of our walks through the Gion district in Kyoto, the downpour lasted long enough to free up some traffic – both foot and vehicle – from the roads. Looking back from the Yasaka Shrine through the torrential rain, gave us this faint, faded, 1970s look of Gion.
After a snowstorm @ the Hungary-Slovakia Border
We didn’t encounter much snow on our trip through Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic in late December, except for hitting a minor snowstorm late on 29th December while crossing over into Slovakia from Hungary. That itself lent itself to quite magical images of the Christmas markets and the castle in Bratislava. But for some reason, my favorite is this one from a wide open field just near the Hungarian-Slovak border near the town of Sutto, right after the storm cleared up. The simplicity of the image in enchanting.
Blazing sunset @ Kotor, Montenegro
After a long day’s drive up and the down the Montenegro coast, and spending a relaxing afternoon near spectacular Sveti Stefan, we arrived in Kotor quite late and exhausted. While grabbing some very late lunch in one of the many town squares, we debated furiously about climbing up the 700 steps or so to get this view of the Bay of Kotor. “Chodein?” (Should we skip), I asked, and everyone started with a vehement yes. But eventually good sense prevailed, and we huffed our way up the stairs and waited for sunset. And boy are we glad we did.