Monday, October 1, 2012

Shooting into the Rain

Showing the Colors, 2012
(Click on images to see larger)

One habit that’s easy to fall into for the photographer is shooting only on sunny days, even though sunny days have some of the worst conditions for photographers. The bright sun and garish overhead light cause dreadful shadows, especially when you’re photographing people. (Yes, you can compensate with fill flash, but for those of us who prefer natural light it’s just not the same.)
This past Saturday morning a passing storm front lowered the temperature into the high sixties and low seventies. But the day also started with rain and the forecast called for only more rain. I’d intended to go down to the oceanfront and shoot the annual Neptune Festival Parade. But I’ll be the first to admit that when I looked out the window in the morning it would have been awfully easy to crawl back into bed or into a comfortable chair with a book.
But then my photographer friend Glen reminded me that rainy days are rich with photographic opportunity and, well, I just couldn’t be accused of wussing out because of a little rain. I wouldn’t melt, of course, and most modern DSLR cameras are pretty water tight if you keep them out of a driving rain. So I gathered up a rain slicker and some cover for the camera and headed for the resort strip.
If photographing parades interests you at all, you know that the best action happens in the staging area before the parade starts. You can get up close and personal to parade participants. They’re relaxed and, in Saturday’s case, hadn’t realized that they were going to be marching up Atlantic Avenue and playing their music and carrying their banners against a steady north wind. There’s time to engage them in conversation, and it’s a lot easier to get them to stand for a picture while they’re waiting that it is when you have to chase them down the street.
Caught! 2012
It never really cleared on Saturday morning. When it wasn’t drizzling or outright raining there was still a thick mist in the air. But that created a wonderfully even light for photographing people.
To be honest, I’ve shot so many parades over the years that I’ve pretty much lost interest in documenting the parades themselves. I tend to look now for the personalities of the parade participants. By the time the parade starts, I might take a few shots of floats or musicians. But as I follow the parade up the street I’m shifting my attention to the people who came to watch the parade.
They did the Monster Mash2012
The Neptune Festival is special because although it was originally intended to at least partially extend our tourism “shoulder season,” it’s also arguably the most popular event for those of us who are “locals.” A lot of locals stay away from the resort area during the crowded summer tourism season, and they don’t come to see the Shriners when they parade earlier in the month.
But for thirty-nine years now, the end of September has signaled the beginning of a two-week celebration of food, wine, art, concerts, sandcastles and all sorts of other fun. It’s the signal that it’s okay for locals to come back to the resort area. And come back they did this past Saturday, even in the rain.
Over the next few days I’ll be showing some of the people I photographed at the Neptune Parade. For now, this post includes some of the other shots of the day.
Sometime the Viewers are More Fun Than the Parade, 2012


  1. The girl facing you looks cold! I too am loathe to go out in the rain, but for something like this, yep, it can still be fun.
    I love the St Paddy's day parade in Nags Head. It's similar in feel, though the reverse: in that yes, locals love it - but it marks the end of the long winter hibernation season, and the beginnings of getting back into the sunny outdoors, which will yes eventually bring the tourists, but not yet in the middle of March!

  2. These are all fun shots, Chris. And great light, true!