So the heat finally let up and was replaced by several days of rain and gloom. Just in time for the weekend. Naturally. Since I wasn’t about to spend the whole weekend inside, I grabbed the gear and headed up to the park.

Southern dock at Lackawanna Lake, with heron hunting in the background, during a summer rainstorm on the afternoon of 06 August 2011.

I’ve been taking a lot of inspiration from Jim Brandenburg’s work (as I mentioned in a previous post), trying to focus on creating tight, meaningful nature and landscape shots. One of Brandenburg’s images shows a lake in the rain, which is the first rain shot I’ve come across. Seems most photogs prefer to keep dry.

This particular rainstorm wasn’t strong enough to kick up splashes on the lake, which was one of the looks I had been hoping for. But the shooting was stil satisfying. Being out in the rain casts an entirely new look on the landscape, even if it’s a familiar one. The tones shift, focusing on the cooler end of the spectrum, while leaves and grasses become more brillantly green due to the coating of rain.

Lackawanna Lake during a summer rainstorm on the afternoon of 06 August 2011.

The overall effect is rather monochromatic, which lends itself well to black & white conversion. I began my workflow in ACR, making all my adjustments in color before exporting the image to Photoshop for the B&W conversion, via its own layer. Followed up with a combination of Curves, Levels, Contrast, and dodging and burning, depending on the needs of the particular image.

As for the shooting, I used the 7D + Sigma 24-70 HSM and 70-200L f/4 IS. Despite the weather resistance of the 7D when coupled with an L-series lens, I did all my shooting from beneath a large umbrella, which kept both the gear and me dry. Initially I worked with the polarizer mounted, but gave up on it fairly soon. It ate up too much light, both to the sensor and through the viewfinder for little effect.

South Branch of Taughannock Creek during a summer rainstorm on the afternoon of 06 August 2011.

So now I’ve got yet another type of photography to pursue, when the rain comes. There should still be a number of good hard rains before winter, to try agagain with. In the meantime, it was a successful outing, coming at the end of a long dry spell.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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