Recently I planned a family vacation to Hanoi as a nice break from the winter cold here in Shanghai. I had long wanted to visit Vietnam, my wife got very excited when she discovered Pho (Vietnamese beef noodles) and I the delicious Egg Coffee - which I’ve mentioned in a previous blog.
It was 24ºc so we booked the tickets and when the time came we threw our summer clothes into the suitcase and... Holy Crap! A quick check of the wether before we departed and the temperature had dropped to 12ºc! We were booked to go during a rare and short lived winter spell in Hanoi. I mean that literally, a week after we got back the temperature had returned to 24ºc. So we threw the swimming costumes out of the suitcase and packed sweaters instead. It was a bit depressing but we were going to have a good time anyway.
Of course I had some nice photos for our holidays planned and my wife and daughters had some beautiful dresses packed just in case but that all pretty much had to be thrown out, along with anything that had short sleeves, as the weather was continually overcast, quite windy and very cold. So how do you take any family snaps while on a dull (weather wise) vacation. Here are some tips on how to still bring home some memories in inclement weather.
The worst thing about vacation photos in dull weather is the sky. There is nothing you can do about a blanket white sky in the photos. Everything will look dull no matter what you do and it can’t be ‘fixed’ in Photoshop. So don’t shoot the sky. Aim your camera downwards to exclude it and concentrate on your family and the environment.
Find interesting enclosed locations
Seek out parks or city locations where the sky in not really visible anyway and you don’t have to worry.
Don’t shoot wide
Keep your compositions tight and concentrate on your subject with a little bit of environment. Stay away form that wide angle lens.
Another element of the dull weather is the ‘flat’ lighting that envelopes everything. This is most evident in colours as they are lifeless and lack contrast. No, don’t boost the saturation in Photoshop that will look overdone and artificial. Either desaturate the colours to embrace the natural look or even better go B&W. Black and White looks great in any type of lighting.
And unless you’re in a beautiful snowscape no one is going to look to comfortable wrapped up in coats, hats and scarves. So if you find a great location or the weather briefly picks up, even for a few minutes, momentarily ditch the heavy protection.