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Getting Creative with Unexpected Weather on Vacation

I recently took a trip to Raleigh, NC to visit friends. One of my goals, wherever I visit, is to see the local sights and spend a lot of time doing photography. During this trip, the first three days were gorgeous, sunny days. But the last two, we experienced unusual all-day rain in Raleigh.

I still had the urge to take photographs. And while my camera is weather sealed, I’m not. I didn’t pack, or expect, all-day rain.

So, what’s a photographer to do when you still want to take pictures, but don’t want to brave the elements for countless hours?


After talking to my friends, we decided to check out Duke University, located in Durham, NC. Our goal was to photograph its chapel, which had just completed renovations. There were other buildings, too, that we wanted to check out if we were able to have the time and get access, but the chapel was our priority. Make a short list of places you want to see, but don’t let that halt your desire to photograph something else if you stumble upon it.

Research for buildings close to the area you’ll be visiting, and look at the interior architecture and design elements. Focusing on these can create a cool collage of photographs that you wouldn’t have otherwise made outdoors.

Travel Light

Usually during vacation shoots, I travel as light as possible. For this rainy day, I just had my new Panasonic GH5 with me, along with a 12-35 f/2.8 lens. This combo worked great, as it was able to capture low light conditions and allow me to easily shoot handheld for long periods of time.

Depending on where you’re going, you might also want to look into a Platypod Pro Max. I had mine with me in place of my normal tripod, but only opted to use it on the sunny days of my trip, specifically for some long exposures.

Get Access

While our trip was centered around going to the chapel, we actually started by walking to Cameron Indoor Stadium, where Duke plays its basketball games. We were able to get into the lobby without an issue, which allowed us to check out some of the Hall of Fame items they had on display.

But actually seeing the court was a different challenge.

After initially being turned down to see it, we found a guy who let us in. The key here? If you’re turned down once, don’t stop asking.

We spent about 15 minutes photographing the court and the area around it. There were only one or two other people inside, and both were setting up for an event on the floor.

Find Different Angles and Get Creative

At Cameron Indoor, I spent the time to shoot the court from two different angles. I also played around with cutting off portions of the floor, focusing more on the seats and the little details that came with them.

When we were done at Cameron Indoor, we made our way to the chapel. I knew that there probably wouldn’t be an issue getting access here, and sure enough, we walked right in without any problems. I started off taking the expected shot, down the main aisle looking to the altar, but then spent some time photographing the details around me.

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The stained glass window, the lights, the organ and the ceiling were all great subjects that were somewhat out of the ordinary to be photographed up close. It made for a creative experiment in terms of what I could capture. I also played around with bracketing, as well as different angles of what I was shooting.

Rain (or Snow) Doesn’t Have to Dampen Your Parade!

Being in Michigan, I regularly deal with gray skies, snow/ice days and rain. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find a location to photograph. In Raleigh, I spent time photographing two really unique locations. But you might spend time photographing food and drinks (I did that too!), or people in cool, indoor environments. Play around with different camera settings and techniques, and don’t let anything limit you.

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