Photographing Rainy Weather in Nauvoo

Nauvoo Temple With Lightning at Night

Night photo of lightning surrounding the Nauvoo Temple in Illinois.

On my mega-long road trip last week, I stopped to do photography in the beautiful city of Nauvoo, Illinois.  The city is full of rich history which is related to my religion, so it was an especially important shoot to me.

I planned to wake up at 5AM to get out and shoot the sunrise, but I awoke at 3:45AM to lightning and thunder outside my hotel room.  Seeing the rain and lightning, I sprung out of bed to get out and shoot the weather.  Any experienced photographer knows that bad weather is often the BEST weather for taking landscape pictures.

I drove half an hour to the LDS Temple in Nauvoo and started taking photos.  At first, I wanted to get pictures of the lightning around the temple, so I used a cable release to get exposures of about 2 minutes with the camera mounted on my Induro Tripod.  The results were good, but the lightning simply did not give the photo the feel that I wanted to achieve.  You can see that first photo on the left.

The lightning was cool, but it wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I walked all around the building trying to find the right angle.  At this point, the heavens began to empty.  It was POURING rain and I was drenched from head to toe.  My Nikon D7000 has weather sealing, but certainly not enough to withstand a downpour.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take my own advice to buy a cheap $5 rain cover for my DSLR, so I had to improvise.  I found a plastic sack from a store and tied it around my camera with rubber bands to keep the wind from blowing it off.  I sat in the car getting ready, selected f/16, 25 seconds shutter speed, ISO 200, and sprinted out of the car to snap off a couple pictures.

At this point, I was pretty afraid that this picture was going to cost me a couple thousand dollars to replace my camera and Nikon 10-24mm lens.  I took one picture and only had a few water drops on the lens, which were easily masked out in Photoshop.  I snapped one last frame, but by that point the front element of the lens more closely resembled a cold glass of water than a piece of photography equipment, so I sprinted back to the comfort of my car and spent the next 10 minutes drying off my gear.  The results?  Worth it… see below.

Reflections on the ground of the LDS temple in Nauvoo Illinois after a rain storm.

The LDS (Mormon) Temple in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. says

    You are right! Bad weather is the time to step out in faith and see what God has in store for you. After all He is the real artist and we are only there to record what he has created. Awesome photograph.

  2. says

    LOVE the picture! (I even like the lightening one.) My hubby and I were in Nauvoo in October, and I got some great shots of the Temple with the fall leaves. That Temple is just gorgeous no matter what!

  3. says

    I’ve been to Nauvoo many times. I used to work a lot in Keokuk, Ia., right across the river. I wasn’t a photog back then, but still took quite a few pics. I shot mostly in old Nauvoo, where those small brick houses were, Joseph B. Smith’s family home, the blacksmith shop where they made the wagons for the journey West, etc. I’m not Mormon, but found the history there to be very interesting. I hope I can go back some day. Oddly, I never saw, or paid any attention to the Temple that you shot. Is that more downtown in the “modern” part of town?

  4. Rob W says

    Ron T, depending on when you were in Keokuk and Nauvoo, the temple might not have been there. It was built in the 1840′s and dedicated in 1846 just as the last of the Mormons were being driven out of Nauvoo by the state and federal government. The temple was subsequently ransacked and then later destroyed by a tornado. It has since been rebuilt and was dedicated in 2002.

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