The Sun Doesn’t Always Shine In Nature But Go Out Anyway

When The Weather Turns Bad Do You Pack It In? You Could Be Missing Some Great Footage!

Everyone loves to go out an film nature and wildlife on a warm, sunny day. I mean who wouldn’t?
Give me a warm Spring day with golden sunlight and I’m off with my video camera in a heartbeat.

So when we look at the weather report the night before and see grey skies in the forecast, do we decide to sleep in and scrub the morning shoot?
I don’t think you should and here’s a few reasons why.

The Weatherman Could Be Wrong

As hard as it is to believe, it happens.
A perfect example was the other day when I was planing on going out to film for the charity film challenge.
The weather report called for rain, grey skies and just general gloomy conditions.
The thing about the charity film challenge though is that you only have a short amount of time to complete the film. So you have to learn how to adapt and just make due.
Well, imagine my surprise when I rolled out of bed only to discover brilliant sunshine lighting up my back yard.
The entire day was sunny skies except near sunset when the clouds finally started rolling in.
Luckily I didn’t cancel my plans and went out and got some great footage.
So just because the weatherman says, doesn’t make it so.

I’ve Seen it Rain On One Side Of The Street And Not The Other

It was in Lansing, Michigan. It was raining on the other side of my street but I was in my front yard dry as a bone. I’ve never seen that happen before but the point is just because the weather is bad where you’re at, doesn’t mean it’s bad where you’re going.

Glacier National Park is famous for having rain on one side of the park and sunny skies on the other.
I encountered the same thing in Hawaii. In the Valley of the Rainbows it would be raining like crazy but when I drove out of the valley, sunny blue skies.
It never hurts to check weather conditions at your destination. You may find that the weather is great there.

It Can’t Stay Like This Forever

Checking out where the sun will be setting

For the Charity Film Challenge, I wanted to see what time the sun was going to set behind an arched tree. The skies were grey so I knew I couldn’t get the shot but I have an app on my iPhone that lets me see the path of the sun at anytime and date. So I knew that in a couple days the weather would be clear so I went out on that gloomy day just to see what time the sun would drop below the tree as well as where I needed to be positioned in order to get the sun where I wanted it to be.

So after the sun “set” even though I couldn’t see it from behind the clouds, hiking down the trail I noticed that the horizon was starting to clear. Even though the sun had set, the horizon was still on fire, mixing with the blues and purples of the approaching night. I think the footage really turned out great. If I hadn’t gone out to scout the path of the sun for a clearer day, I would have missed this shot.

Filming nature and wildlife is all about being there regardless of the weather conditions

After a cloud covered day, this was my reward for venturing out anyway.

Course, The Weatherman Could Be Right Too!

This time I chose to wait out the rain instead of shooting in it

Even when there’s not chance for bad weather in the forecast, you should always be prepared to protect your gear in the advent Mother Nature wants to open the flood gates. Course, it doesn’t have to be just rain, strong winds in desert areas can whip up sand that can scratch lenses and grind moving parts until they are useless.

Most of my camera bags have all weather covers that I can zip down over them to protect the bag as well as its contents. Sometimes even a plastic garbage bag will do the trick too.

So just because you think the weather MAY be bad, doesn’t mean it WILL be bad or that it will STAY bad. The whole reason I film nature and wildlife is to be out in nature and share that love of nature with others. So I’m not going to let a little bad weather deter me from getting out and enjoying nature and you shouldn’t let it deter you either.

Let me know what you think and please share this post with your friends and fellow filmmakers. I’d love to hear from you!

And as always, shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!

Kevin J Railsback is a wildlife and nature filmmaker

By | 2016-11-06T09:39:03+00:00 December 9th, 2012|Categories: Filmmaking Naturally News|Tags: , , , , , |6 Comments

About the Author:

Award-winning filmmaker Kevin J Railsback has traveled as far as Africa to test HD cameras for Panasonic. His stunning nature and wildlife footage has appeared in productions on National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel as well as in commercials for such corporate giants as AT&T.

6 Comments

  1. Chelsea R. Pugh May 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    I am passionate about wildlife and the environment. It is my ambition to one day make films that not only show how fascinating nature is but that also highlight the fragility of it. My aim is to document the human impact on the earths species and ecosystems whilst bringing a positive message of what we can all do to help conserve them.

    • Kevin J Railsback May 19, 2013 at 8:14 am - Reply

      Hi Chelsea,

      Sorry for the late reply. My miniature schnauzer was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer so I’ve been spending as much time with her as I can and everything else is on the back burner.
      I guess when you’re passionate about animals they take priority over a lot of other things.

      Chelsea, I LOVE your plans for your documentary work! It’s something I want to do as well.
      My hope is that I can make a difference somehow.

      What subjects are you thinking about? Maybe we can kick around some ideas.
      Would love to talk more with you about this.

      Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate its,

  2. Adrienne June 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Now you know I’m not a photographer and especially with what you do Kevin but I really had to chuckle when you said the weatherman could be wrong. Heck, ours always is.

    Just this past weekend they were calling for rain all weekend long. My poor Mom always believed them and I’m not sure why since it hardly did what they said would happen weather wise at her house.

    So Saturday came and it was a gorgeous day. Not a cloud in the sky. Now Sunday morning we got light showers but I bet they didn’t last 30 minutes and then the sun came out and another beautiful day. Oh and it’s another beautiful day again today.

    So as for the weather here where I live, always plan to go out because you’ll usually always get your shots and filming in beautiful weather.

    ~Adrienne

    • Kevin J Railsback June 3, 2013 at 3:55 pm - Reply

      Adrienne,

      Weathermen are probably one of the few jobs were you can make mistakes 50% of the time and still have a job. 🙂

      The longer I film nature and wildlife, the more I like to be out when the weather is less than perfect. You certainly see a different side of nature and you hardly see any people at all.

      I really do need to get a rain suit or something so I can sit out there and not look like a drowned rat! I have protection for my camera equipment but I just have to make the best of it where I’m concerned. I wish they made a super breathable rain suit. I usually sweat so much in them during the summertime that I might as well just not wear one since I get soaked anyway.:)

      The other thing is that even though the nature center I love to film at is only about fifteen minutes from my house, the weather their can be vastly different. Not sure how many times I’ve been socked in by fog and raced towards the nature center to capture some stunning fog imagery only to be greeted by blue skies.

      So I guess even when the weather people are right, it still doesn’t mean the weather will be like that at the location you want to film.

  3. Aras Androck September 21, 2013 at 4:32 am - Reply

    Wow. Love your shots. Beautiful…

  4. Rodrigo Leonard December 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    “Investing in nature is one of the smartest investments you can make,” says Mark Tercek, a former Goldman Sachs banker currently heading The Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation organization.

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