Seven Secrets to Great Monsoon Landscapes

Blues and greens look saturated during the monsoons. Capture these colours to add a refreshing touch to your image. Photograph/Brian Lary

Blues and greens look saturated during the monsoons. Capture these colours to add a refreshing touch to your image. Photograph/Brian Lary

A rain-drenched landscape presents us with the opportunity to create images with dramatic mood and ominous overtones. Digantika Mitra shares seven ways to aesthetically capture monsoon landscapes.

When most people think about landscapes, they think of calm, serene and passive environments… lush greens, colourful flowers, brown mountains. However, photographing the same landscape during the rainy season is sure to add drama, mood and create a new point of interest in your photographs.

Choose the Right Location
Monsoons breathe new life into natural landscapes as it turns them into fresh, green and vivid landscapes. Make it a point to choose the right place to shoot. You could explore the countryside, national parks, wide fields or similar natural surroundings to make the most of monsoon effect.

Watch the Weather Forecast
Before you set out to shoot, study the weather forecast. It will help you in planning the place, time and even pre-deciding the composition of your monsoon landscapes. For instance, if the weather forecast predicts dark, cloudy skies, you can pre-plan a composition where the sky dominates the frame.

Choose Interesting Subjects
Keep an eye out for monsoon-specific phenomena. Shafts of sunlight piercing through dark clouds act like spotlights, illuminating only parts of the landscape. Mist, dense clouds, rainbows, sunsets and sunrises also make interesting subjects.

Get the Light Right
Monsoons offer theatrical scenes at different times and places. In less than five minutes, the lighting that lifts a landscape, can disappear. So be alert, decisive and quick. On a cloudy day, the diffused light provides some breathtaking colours. Look out for photo opportunities using the light just after a storm as it brings a certain freshness and radiance to landscapes.

Maximise Depth-of-Field
For a stunning landscape photograph, you need to ensure that as much of your scene is in focus as possible. This can be done by maximising the depth-of-field, that is, by choosing a narrow aperture. However, it mean that less light will hit the image sensor, so you need to compensate either by increasing the ISO or lengthening the shutterspeed (or both).

Saturate Colours
To make the most of monsoon colours, use underexposure to saturate them. Use the Auto Bracketing feature to find out which exposure setting renders the colours best. Using a polarising filter can also help enhance colours. Simply rotate the filter to get different saturations of colours, reflections and levels of contrast.

Protect Your Gear
Protect your gear from getting wet. Carry a shower cap or a custom-made raincoat to protect your camera while you shoot. Use zip-lock plastic bags or air-tight plastic containers to store batteries, memory cards, cameras or lenses. Carry your gear in weather-proof camera bags and always keep an umbrella handy. If you embrace the monsoons and have the thirst to explore, you can capture the drama and moods of monsoon landscapes with perfection.

Tags: colours, Environment, july 2010, landscape, location, monsoon