Capturing Monsoon’s Fury
Meher Manda gives you an insight into the eccentricity of the monsoon and the various subjects that you can photograph during this chaotic, but beautiful season.
For when it rains, it pours, and perhaps that is exactly what makes rains just as different in India—their extremity and the complete shift in climate. The rains have a very individualistic feel about themselves. Accompanied by erratic downpours and an extreme breakdown of systems, the monsoon almost screams out to you to tuck your camera inside. And that is precisely what most photographers do. Photography during the monsoon is risky business.
By getting your camera out while others pack them in, you are bound to get some great shots that others will never hope to capture. A countless opportunities wait for you during a heavy downpour.
Explore the waterscapes in your surrounding as they get replenished during the rains.
Dramatic Cloud Cover
Heavy rainfall can be predicted by the formation of a thick cloud cover, close to the ground surface. Clouds turn a gloomy shade of black and grey, and you can capture rainshowers with clouds acting as the much needed dramatic background. While shooting clouds, you may encounter aerial subjects that give your frame an interesting perspective. Underexposing your images can help make the clouds look darker. Also, try using a coloured or graduated filter to give your images different tones.
When it Floods
Many urban areas in India experience a complete downfall of their systems during rains. A heavy downpour results in clogged roads bringing everything to a standstill and that, in itself brings about many interesting sights.
You could find yourself a spot which is relatively dry, yet gives you a holistic view of the scene of action. In such a situation, regularity takes a beating… everything is turned upside down by the tumultuous rain! But do not panic. Shoot calmly and capture various images of streets converted into streams and the spirit of the locals.
During floods, people have some really interesting expressions because their daily routine is severly affected. You will oftenplay witness to a scene of people wading through water, tumbling, falling and lending each other a helping hand. While it is pouring, there will always be a particular time period when the rain calms down to a drizzle. That is the moment when you should get out with your camera, well protected, and capture these animated quirks around.
High Tide Phenomena
Coastal areas experience dramatic tides during the monsoon. Along beaches, the water levels rise up to great heights. In such a situation, while one might scurry to the drier side, staying put at the former spot will reward you with amazing water pictures.
With the water rising high up over you, you can get interesting low-angle shots. Also, high tides tend to surprise people walking along the sea. While some might invite the waves, others might scurry to the drier side. You can capture these candid expressions well.
Trees Gone Wild
Nature has its own way of reacting to turbulent weather. At coastal areas and green lands, strong monsoon winds have known to uproot many a tree. You must have often noticed trees swaying furiously against a backdrop of a lightening sky. By shooting this, you will be able to capture the destructive and frightening essence of the monsoons.
Get on to the terrace of your building or a beach or a wasteland so that you have enough space to avoid any other distracting element in the frame. Take long exposure shots that will capture the movement of flora as the lightening will leave varying trails. You can also choose to freeze their movement, as that will leave you with an interesting image.
Explore your surrounding during the rains. Go for long walks, so you can encounter candid scenes.
Life after chaos is extremely still, with dramatic changes of its own. After a prolonged rainfall, your surroundings undergo various changes that you must capture. Things are uprooted from their former places and there is a sense of destruction. Although it makes for a gloomy scene, you can encounter happy instances around and capture them. Try capturing a dash of colour against the dark setup or happy portraits. Try looking for positive aspects around you.
English writer Gilbert K Chesterton once remarked, “And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.”
Up until now, had you ever thought about braving the eccentricity of the season and being out there, shooting the drama of nature? So put on that rain cover, stock up on memory cards and enjoy the madness of the monsoon!.
Capture the Ever-altering Light of the Monsoon
Run, Hide, Shelter
- While shooting on the streets, get into a vehicle like a taxi, or better still, a double-decker bus.
- Stand at the window or under a shade on the terrace while shooting at home.
- Stay indoors in coffee shops and shoot reflected views through a glass pane to create a layered image.
Get the Shot, But Take Care of Your Camera!
Great photos are on offer all through the season, but it is also very important to keep you and your camera completely safe, so as to avoid any harm.
- Protect Yourself: The first criterion for you is to carry adequate protection. Carry a double-fold umbrella and an oversized raincoat
- Buy Necessary Equipment: Buy a water-resistant camera bag. A hood and filter will help protect the exterior element of the lens.
- Be Smart: Cover your camera with a plastic bag, large enough to fit the camera body and the lens. Then, fit the lens hood onto it to avoid folds.
- Think Comfort: Wear clothes that dry off easily, and carry as less as possible. Stock up on dry memory cards that you can use as a backup.’
This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue of Better Photography.
Tags: Shooting Technique, Nature, Water, better photography, monsoon, rains, lightning, cloudy, july 2012, waves, Meher Manda, Flood, drizzling, raindrops, high tide, beaches, turbulent weather, extreme climate, raincoat