Behind the Shot: Bad Weather in Badlands National Park

Hi everyone, this week the Outdoor Photography Guide Photo Challenge kicks off with our first assignment, which happens to be one of my personal favorites: Bad Weather!In the meantime I just wanted to add a few more thoughts on the subject, and share a recent bad weather photo example.

I recently took this photo when on a trip to Badlands National Park, and I think it nicely illustrates the types of opportunities that arise when bad weather comes your way. Before the storm came in, it was bright and sunny, and not very conducive to making great landscape photos. After I made this photo, it got completely overcast, and then started to rain very hard and even hail—also not conducive to making great photos, or any photos for that matter.

But for a half-hour period in between, the incoming bad weather was in what I like to call the “Goldilocks Zone”—everything was just right! I had big, dramatic, and colorful storm clouds building in the sky, and plenty of lightning (by the way, please be careful when trying to photograph lightning, it is best if you set up your camera and then take shelter in a safe, grounded place, such as inside your car with the doors and windows closed; use a remote or a Lighting Trigger to trip the shutter). Things also got really amazing after the storm broke, and I was rewarded with a gorgeous sunset sky.

You can see more of my Badlands photos, and learn more about how I took this shot, here.


Sometimes, as with this photo, the bad weather itself isn’t good for photography, but rather things are best when bad weather is approaching or breaking up. Other times, however, the bad weather is the main event, such as when heavy snow adds an ethereal mood to the scene or subject being photographed. Either way, it’s a good idea to be ready to shoot whenever interesting weather heads your way.

I look forward to seeing your bad weather photos in this week’s assignment. Good luck!


About the author: World-renowned professional photographer and Tamron Image Master Ian Plant is a frequent contributor to several leading photo magazines and the author of numerous books and instructional videos. You can see more of Ian’s work at

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