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Rain photography is a highly dramatic and emotive genre of the artform which can transform the mundane into a superb composition; however, there are many challenges of shooting in the rain, not only because you need to keep your gear dry but also because of the poor lighting and constant movement within the scene.
Taking photos of subjects and scenery that are wet can be difficult at the best of times and although there is some equipment you can use to help you’ll also need to master the correct settings on your camera. In contrast to other popular outdoor genres of photography, such as sunset photos, when you’re working in the rain you often have to work with very poor lighting, gray and overcast skies and unsaturated colors throughout the scene.
If you were to ask most photographers they would be likely to tell you that they prefer to work in sunny weather but if you limit yourself to waiting for the good weather you can miss out on some of the most dramatic photos of all! Once you learn how to work with the elements of rain in your photography you can start to create stunning photos that can transform the way your audience sees the world around them.
Of course, one of the most important things you’ll need to get right is the gear you use to work in the rain. It’s vital for you to have the correct gear when you’re shooting in the rain and although it might seem impossible it can really be much easier than you think.
What Kind Of Gear Do You Need To Shoot Photos In The Rain?
It can be quite challenging to work in the rain when the water is pouring down and everything around you is wet, but with the right gear you can be sure to keep your camera safe and yourself dry! This is why having access to the right equipment is critical for rain photography.
Your camera is the single most important item that you own as a photographer and so it’s vital to keep it safe from damage, no matter what conditions you are working in.
- A Raincoat!: The first thing you’ll need is a sturdy, reliable and well made raincoat. Ideally, you should be wearing a rain proof coat as well as waterproof trousers. This will allow you to work in the rain, or other difficult conditions, without getting cold, wet or sick! Make sure you buy good quality waterproofs so you can work in the rain for extended periods of time with the water soaking through.
- A Waterproof Camera Case Is Essential: It’s critical that you keep your camera dry while you work in the rain because if water gets into your camera’s body it can stop it functioning instantly and lead to costly repairs! There are several ways that you can keep your camera dry. You can buy a specially made waterproof camera case but if you need to you can improvise with a standard plastic bag. However, if you really want to be safe it’s not advisable to use a plastic bag except in emergencies; and given that a proper camera case is fairly cheap it’s certainly worth the expense, especially considering that your camera is likely to be quite expensive. Your waterproof camera case can also be used to protect your camera from other elements, such as the sand if you are working in the desert. A good pro level DSLR waterproof case even allows you to take photos underwater without risking your camera!
- A Tripod: When you’re working in rainy conditions it can be extremely useful to have a tripod with you. This will allow you to eliminate any shakes and work effectively with slower shutter speeds. Some of the best rain photos manage to incorporate a sense of motion which can easily be done by using a slow shutter speed and a tripod. The lighting conditions are often poor in the rain and so having a tripod will allow you to use longer exposures without ruining the shots with shakes.
- A Good Quality Camera: It’s always worth investing in a professional quality DSLR camera, no matter what genre you are working in. This is never more true than if you’re working in poorly lit and wet conditions.
What Camera Settings Should You Use While Shooting In The Rain?
Using the right settings while working in the rain is critical to get the best results. There are many different ways that you can use the settings on your camera to change the way you are able to capture the rainy scenery but some of the best tricks are listed below:
- Changing the shutter speed on your camera will drastically impact the resulting photos you take, particularly in the rain. For example, if you want to capture the movement of the rain drops you can use a slow shutter speed and conversely you can use a faster shutter speed to capture the individual raindrops! When you are using a slower shutter speed be careful to ensure that you keep a strong focal point in the image otherwise the image can end up looking clumsy and cluttered.
- When you’re working in the rain you will often have to work in low light which can produce a lot of noise in the image. You can work around this problem by using a low to medium ISO setting to help reduce the amount of noise in the image. This will also allow you to ramp up the shutter speed so you can capture the falling raindrops.
- While you are working outdoors in the rain you should generally be using a large aperture so you allow more light into the camera. This is especially important if the lighting conditions are less than ideal; which they often are in the rain. However if you want a deeper depth of field in your photo then you’ll have to use a smaller aperture setting and make up for the low light by using a higher ISO setting.
- Even when lighting conditions are poor you can still make use of other artificial light sources; such as traffic lights, shop windows or nearby billboards. All of these light sources will not only brighten up the scene but can be used as points of interest in themselves. For example, catching the light on wet ground can add lovely streaks of color and contrast to an otherwise stark image.
- Another way that you can highlight the rain, even in low light, is to use the flash on your camera. The automatic flash is often too harsh but you can use the manual flash setting and choose the intensity that you want.
- It’s important when you’re shooting in the rain to use the manual focus because if you leave it to the automatic focus you won’t be able to control which parts of the image are in focus. This is especially true if the rain is heavy since your camera will tend to autofocus on random raindrops instead of the parts of the frame that you want it to.
Extra Tips For Rain Photography – Creating Professional Compositions.
- Use Rain To Create Interesting Abstract Compositions: With a bit of imagination you can use rainy scenes to create impressive abstract images. For instance, you can shoot traffic lights through raindrops on a cafe window while using a large aperture to make a nice bokeh background. If you zoom in close to the raindrops you can show the background light interacting with the water drops, leaving you a huge scope for creative compositions.
- Use The Rain To Add Texture To Your Work: If you’re looking for a fascinating way to add texture to your photos why not try using the rain? Whether you’re taking portraits or working on product photography, you can place your subject in the rain to give your images an new twist. Shooting products in the rain can give them a whole series of new connotations in a powerfully atmospheric setting. You can also use the rain in your macro photography to add an extra layer of color and texture to your photos. When your subjects are wet they can look very different to if they were not so there’s a lot of room for experimentation in rainy conditions.
- Make Use Of The Reflections: When the weather’s wet you should always keep your eye out for unusual reflections in the water that collects in puddles and elsewhere. You can often create some incredible compositions by using the puddles on the sidewalks and streets, particularly if you manage to incorporate background lights or buildings in the reflections. Even something as simple as the lights of cars driving in the rain can create wonderful reflections in the water on the street. If you zoom in close to the puddles you can also put together more abstract compositions that are sure to impress your audience.
Photography During The Rain Is An Exciting New Genre For You To Try!
Normally, when we see the clouds gathering and the rain starting we want to rush to get back indoors however, as a photographer, you don’t need to shy away from the weather! Some of the most dramatic, powerful and emotive photos are taken in the rain and the possibilities for experimentation are limitless.
You’ll have to make sure that you have the right equipment so that you can keep your gear dry, even in the pouring rain! However, once you have a reliable waterproof case for your camera and good raincoat you can head out into the rain and get to work without having to worry about your equipment being damaged.
Don’t forget, it’s not just the rain that you can work with because the mist, rainbows and puddles of pooling water can also make interesting and memorable features for your compositions.
Have you tried taking photographs during a rain?