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Photo tips: light and weather – harnessing natural moods

Part 2: Shadows, clouds, and rain.

For the last year, the animal photographer, Valentina Goeck has transformed her passion into a career and travels all over Germany and the world to create animal portraits with a personality of their own. As she almost always photographs outdoors, we asked her for tips about shooting outside and, in this second part of her series of photo tips, she explains how good photos come from bad weather.

More information about Valentina Goeck can be found in the first part of the series of photo tips here, in the E1|R1 Blog. If, meanwhile, you’d like to see amazing animal photos pop up in your Facebook timeline from time to time, you absolutely must follow @TierportraitsValentinaGoeck on Facebook.

Shooting in shade

If there’s no way to avoid shooting on a sunny afternoon, you should photograph directly in the shadows, where the light is wonderfully soft even at midday, similar to cloudy weather. Pay attention to ensure that the background, if it is located in direct sunlight, is not too much brighter than the subject of the shot, as this makes the contrast too strong. That worked brilliantly with Moon, the paint horse gelding, due to the subject’s light-coloured coat.

Photography against a cloudy sky

Dealing with cloudy weather is straightforward. You can shoot in any direction, because the clouds work like a giant diffuser: that is to say, they spread the light out evenly. This meant that I could opt for dry beech leaves as a background for my photo of Diego the hunting dog because they matched his eye colour so well. Colours usually have a very intense appearance. Naturally, clouds also take light away, so there will be situations when you need to increase the light sensitivity (ISO).

Taking photos in rain

And what if it starts to rain? Simply try shooting photographs in rain for yourself! These aren’t the kinds of photos you’ve seen countless times and, in my view, they create a really unique, peaceful mood. Once again, you’ve got a completely free choice in selecting your background. I photographed my Berber mare, Ohlala, in March in the rain while the hazel was in bloom. This created a really gentle contrast between the rain and the cool March colours and the warm hazel blossoms.