A common theme in my posts on my August shoots with Hannah and Monica, Bree, Viktoria in August was the threat of rain. I drove home from the first two of those three in fairly heavy rain pretty soon after leaving the shoots. The weather hadn’t been my friend early this year, but since May had been more cooperative. On the last day of August that cooperation ended.
For the last day of the month I had a shoot with Melinda planned in the mountains. As the shoot neared, the forecast wasn’t promising. That morning the forecast threatened rain and storms early, but the chance of precipitation dropped after noon. Melinda and I texted that that morning and felt comfortable enough to meet a bit later than originally planned and headed up to the location. The sky when we met contained only scattered clouds, but nothing to hint at the weather to come. The drive held a little more cloudy weather, but again nothing to make us rethink the decision until when we arrived there.
I spend enough time outdoors that I have developed a decent feel for the weather, at least the short term weather. Looking at the sky then my instinct told me that it was likely to rain. Probably nothing more than a light shower or drizzle, but there was a real chance of something heavier. The light rumble of thunder as we headed in were almost like a final warning of nature of what it had in store. I didn’t listen to that experience.
Why? A mix of things. I’d wanted to shoot this spot for a long time. I’d found it more than a year before, but hadn’t been able to get the right combination of the right model, time to go there, and warm enough weather all at the same time until this day. I already had a lot of drive and preparation time invested in the shoot when we parked the car. I didn’t want to walk away after getting here, and in a rare case I really didn’t have a location for a plan B.
It was a long hike from our parking spot and not an easy hike with a lot of elevation change, not the kind of trip to take in iffy weather. The first spot I had in mind lay about a mile and a half and nearly 1,000 feet of climbing away. The second was another half mile further. We headed in feeling a lot more optimistic than I should have.
We’d made it just more than a mile up when I realized the decision was a poor one. I knew we were going to get more than a sprinkle, but still didn’t know what lay in store. The nearest shelter was closer than going back, so we pressed on. As the light rain began, I pulled out the rain jacket I always carry since getting caught in a storm last summer and gave Melinda a second jacket that I’d brought.
I had prepared for the chance of rain. I had the jackets I noted and even extra clothes back in the car. I wasn’t prepared for the storm the rain quickly turned into. We sheltered under some pines for a time, until it was clear that the rain was going to be long and too hard for the foliage to provide protection. I’ve been caught a few times in storms while shooting. A shoot last summer and my first shoot with Hannah Perez several years ago. The rain at the shoot last summer was intense, but we were near the car when it hit and out of the rain in a few minutes. Hannah and I were on our way out when we were caught in the storm, but still endured a long and drenching walk. In both of those other shoots we’d been left soaked, but heading out after the shoot was done.
Here I was better prepared than at either of the other times with a good rain jacket and a jacket for Melinda.
It didn’t help.
I won’t say I’ve never seen a heavier rain, but it felt worse than anything I remember being caught in. Not just the rain, but the lightning just a little too close for comfort and being out there with nowhere to really go. Melinda and I had probably fifteen minutes of walking to the nearest shelter in the best of weather. As we climbed the trails filled with runoff from the downpour to the point it felt like wading a creek. My rain gear did a decent job of keeping my head and shirt dry, but I quickly became soaked from the waist down. Melinda also got soaked, but kept her hair somewhat dry and I’m surprised she kept as dry as she did.
After the miserable hike in the rain we arrived at a shelter happy just to be out of the rain. It looked empty when we arrived and no one answered when I called out a few times. We stripped off our soaked clothes to try to wring them out, let some dry, and regain at least some level of comfort while waiting out the rain. Really nothing to make a lasting impression when working with a model the first time like getting caught in a storm and stripping down to get dried out. Adding to the fun it turned out we weren’t quite alone as thought. Another couple had taken shelter before the rain, but were in another part of the shelter and apparently couldn’t here me over the rain. They saw a bit more than they probably expected that day.
Doing outdoor work relies on being able to adapt to changes quickly. Before we’d even taken the first photos, it was perhaps the least cooperative weather I’d seen. So while the rain continued I evaluated what we had. These summer storms can be intense, but rarely last long meaning we’d likely be clear in a half hour or so. Checking her outfits we found a fortunate break in that the dress we’d planned to work with remained dry. I’d planned to shoot around the spot we’d taken shelter. So Melinda got into the dress and we did our first work using the wall along the shelter. I’d brought a small flash and soft box with me in case I decided to shoot here which gave me the ability to produce some decent light. I’m actually pretty happy with how the photos came out.
Melinda’s hair was straight before we had started the trip which tells you all you need to know about the effect of the weather.
The rain had stopped while we shot there. Behind it left a slightly cool temperature, especially when your clothes are still damp, and fog. Lots of fog. I hadn’t planned for rain and can’t really say it helped anything, but the fog I could find an advantage in. I’d actually had some thoughts of shooting in fog before, but here deep in the woods after a rain with fog felt like an idea I could work with.
We headed out to a second location, moving further from the vehicle as the storm had lifted to reveal the weather we’d expected going into the shoot. I’d found a spot with an old chimney, all left of some forgotten cabin, and had the idea of it as a sort of gate. I’d played a bit with the idea of a gate guardian with Hannah and Monica in some photos, but here the fog could work to enhance the effect with Melinda as the guardian of some deep forest gateway. The fog really shows in the second of these two.
I’m very happy with the photos. While not what I’d planned starting the day, they came out very nice. The shelter worked well with Melinda’s glamour after splashed by rain look. And I loved the foggy location with that old chimney. Melinda was wonderful to work with and rolled with the punches the weather threw at us. I’m hoping to work again with her soon.