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The weather is the single most important factor when it comes to shooting landscapes. The fact that we have no control over it is just a minor inconvenience. Sure, you can hedge your bets that you'll get glorious lighting at the perfect location but to effective plan a landscape shoot, you need to stay one step ahead.

You don't have to restrict yourself to good weather conditions though. Landscape photos taken under adverse weather conditions can be very atmospheric, solemn, portentous. Depending on how you use the weather in your scene, you can elicit a feeling of warmth or peacefulness, mystery, atmosphere, a sense of threat or impending doom, all from the same basic scene. In a sense, the weather determines what emotion is conveyed by your photograph.

You become things, you become an atmosphere, and if you become it, which means you incorporate it within you, you can also give it back. You can put this feeling into a picture. A painter can do it. And a musician can do it and I think a photographer can do that too and that I would call the dreaming with open eyes. - Ernst Haas

Welcome To The World Of Temperature And Pressure Charts

With a little knowledge you can tell, at a glance, what the weather is going to be like in any given place. To start off with, let's take a look at high and low pressure systems. High pressure indicates an area where it's fine and sunny weather with little or no cloud. It can often bring sea and coastal fog in Summer and cloud and fog in Winter.

Low pressure areas are unsettled, which usually means rain and high winds. The lines you see circling high or low pressure areas on weather maps are called "isobars". The closer those lines are to each other, the stronger the winds.

Weather fronts are usually associated with areas of low pressure and fall into three categories:

  • Warm Fronts (symbolized by red semi-circles on a line that represents the front) show warmer air moving in which usually indicates rain.
  • Cold Fronts (symbolized by blue triangles on a line that represents the front) show colder air is moving in and, again, this usually means rain or showers
  • Occluded Fronts (symbolized by alternating red semi-circles and blue triangles on a line that represents the front) are a mixture of the two and (yet again) usually indicate rainfall.

Weather temperature maps give you an idea of where the hot and cold areas are in your region. Blues and whites indicate the coldest areas whereas yellows and reds show warmer areas.

If you're planning a landscape photography shoot, you need to prepare for the weather. If it's cold, bring warm clothes and a flask of something hot to drink. If it's warm, bring summer clothes and a bottle of water.

Online Weather

While you can find out reasonably local weather forecasts and reports from the TV or newspaper, there's no doubt that for the most detailed reports for your local area, the internet is the place to go. Below you'll find a range of weather charts and satellite images that will give you a broad idea of the weather. If your country isn't depicted, click on the maps and you should be able to select your region from the screen that will appear.

Also listed are a number of online weather sites where you can enter the detail of your city or town so you can get reports tailored to your exact location od the location you've selected for your landscape shoot.

Offline Weather

Maybe you'd rather not have the hassle of turning on your PC, waiting for it to boot up, connecting to the internet and calling up one or more weather pages. In that case, there are a number of stand-alone weather instruments that are effective in alerting you to local weather conditions. Amazon also sell a range of weather instruments. The ones I'd recommend are a handheld weather-alert emergency radio, the Ambient Weather WS-1171 Wireless Advanced Weather Station and, for those with big pockets, the Netatmo Weather Station. They all run on batteries so you could bring any of them on location with you.

Auroras

If you live in a high or a low latitude, you'll have a greater chance of seeing an aurora, that shimmering curtain of light that sometimes appears in the night sky. The aurora is caused by high-energy particles from the Sun impacting on our atmosphere and being funneled by the Earth's magnetic field towards the north and south poles. Photos of an aurora are always striking and combining an aurora with a landscape gives a very appealing image and provides a sense of scale for the aurora itself.

The Maps

Because some of the maps can be large files, the maps have been put on separate smaller pages which will load faster. These are the links to the various types of weather map:

Online Satellite Images
North American satellite imagery from the GOES satellites
Today's European weather forecast (from CNN).

Portrait Editing Software

Meteosat Images of Europe
Animated weather map of Meteosat images from the European Space Agency.

Mercator-projection image of Europe
A colour-coded image of Europe which is updated every 6 hours (at 0, 6, 12 and 18h U.T.) Satellite Maps of other countries are available from the menu on this page.

European Weather Forecast
Today's European weather forecast (from CNN).

General Weather Sites
AccuWeather

BBC Weather (World)

Weather.com

The Weather Underground

Intellicast Weather (World)

MetCheck

Add Weather Stickers To Your Website


More weather by AccuWeather®

Clear Sky Clock
These clocks show at a glance when, in the next 48 hours, you might expect clear and dark night skies for one of many observing sites. It is specifically intended for amateur astronomers but if you're interested in night-time landscape photography, it might be of use to you. The forecast data comes from a numerical weather model run by those very cool guys at the Canadian Meteorological Centre.

AccuWeather
Find the Weather for any City, State or ZIP Code, or Airport Code or Country. Choose from one of three styles to present the information (e.g. as opposite). You can get the NetWeather code for your city here.

Weather Underground
Find the Weather for any City, State or ZIP Code, or Airport Code or Country

The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel has created a number of resources for you to add weather information and capabilities to your own web site and mobile devices.

Photographing Weather Videos:

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