Do you want to go out and photograph birds in the rain? What about in the snow? Most people, even some die-hard birders, refuse to take their equipment outside to take photos in marginal weather. There are so many benefits of photographing birds in the rain or snow, and I will get to that in a minute.
So how do you go outdoors in inclement weather without destroying any camera gear? There are many options for protecting your camera and equipment. Following is a list of things you can do to keep safe from the elements.
Use camera rain covers.
Put a good lens hood on.
Keep an umbrella handy.
Store your gear in a waterproof bag.
Think about using thicker camera sleeves.
Shoot under covered areas.
Use waterproof camera housing.
Use desiccant packets.
Don’t change your lenses frequently.
Keep your hands dry when photographing in the rain, especially when changing your batteries and memory cards.
One of the best things you can do to protect your camera from the elements when photographing in them is using a rain cover. The rain cover will definitely help keep the rain off of your camera gear. Be very careful when moving the lens and camera up and down depending on the position of the birds you are trying to photograph. You don’t want to look at your photographs later and see there’s a bunch of raindrops that destroyed the great picture you thought you took. There are all kinds of options on the internet for finding rain covers for your camera. Think Tank Photo makes the best rain cover I have seen. Think Tank Photo hydrophobic is the best choice when it comes to rain covers. Their price ranges anywhere from $115 to about $125. The key features are the three-layer material for superior durability and a seam seal for maximum protection in a downpour or dusty conditions. You can check them out at Think Tank Photo.com. Think Tank Photo has small and medium-sized rain covers from around $35 to $40. Click Here.
An inexpensive option is to purchase camera sleeves for your camera. You can find a variety of camera sleeves priced from $7 to around $80 on https://www.bhphotovideo.com/.
Another thing you can do is put a good lens hood on the front of your lens. A lens hood used with a rain cover will help prevent getting raindrops on your glass. Plus, try not to change your lenses frequently, if possible.
You still want to keep an umbrella with you and a waterproof bag so you can store your gear. Waterproof bags are especially important when hiking back and forth to your photo location in inclement weather.
If possible, shoot under covered areas like trees or a ledge.
If you want to be sure your camera remains dry in any weather, you can purchase a waterproof camera housing. Some can be quite expensive.
You can also use the desiccant packets in your storage cases to help keep moisture away from your camera and gear.
The last tip is to keep your hands dry when photographing in any weather, especially when changing batteries and your memory cards.
Now, if you do end up getting water in your camera or gear, try to relax. Depending on the level of damage, you may be able to dry things out for a few days. The ability to receive a repair if your equipment remains damp depends on just how damaged it is. If you do need to send your camera or gear out for repair, I suggest not using a third-party vendor. I’ve had bad experiences. Your dealers like Canon, Nikon, Sony, or whoever manufactured your camera equipment is whom I would contact first.
Why would you want to go out into the elements like rain or snow to photograph birds?
One of the great things about photographing out in the rain and overcast days, they’re like a softbox to soften the light. Another thing is that the weather reduces the contrast, and it will open up shadow details that would not be there on a bright sunny day. You will need to look at your lens frequently for weather spots, even with a rain cover. I may repeat myself multiple times, but this is very important. Water spots destroyed many of my pictures when I was not giving my equipment a top priority.
Make sure you use a tripod, I repeat, a tripod will make a huge difference, whether it is a monopod or a tripod. My bird photographs appeared so much clearer when I started to use a tripod; your choice to use a monopod or tripod is a personal choice.
Also, a polarizer lens and a smaller aperture and a long shutter speed will keep you from recording individual raindrops. One of my favorite experiments is to use a longer shutter speed; this can make for exciting, unexpected bird photographs. Long shutter speeds will blur motion and prepare for a soft, beautiful image. Rain can make for beautiful compositions; it also helps with creativity when taking shots on a rainy day. Make sure to look for locations where your birds are backlit in the rain and look for surprising reflections that can make for exceptional pictures.
Photographing birds in the snow is another fabulous option to get exciting pictures of birds. Snowy weather also acts like a softbox to soften the bright light of the white. Snow often adds extra texture to your bird images and can add an emotional aspect to your bird photos.
One last thing when photographing in cold locations makes sure to keep your batteries warm and dry. The last thing you want to happen is to be in a situation where you see some fantastic birds. Then because of the weather, your batteries are completely dead because of the cold weather. It occurred to me when I was photographing birds at the Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge, and I was not a happy camper at this moment. I can only recommend keeping your batteries close to your body to keep them warm.
In conclusion, some of my best bird photos happen after inclement weather suddenly breaks. So if possible, wait it out and see what happens. Take some chances, and don’t let that rainy or snowy weather stop you from going out and photographing the birds out there. These may be some of the most excellent most surprising pictures you have ever taken. Use as many tips as possible to keep your camera safe from the elements.
Michael Vance Pemberton