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Photography in the Rain

Photography in the rain does throw up challenges as much as shooting the elements always does. That said it also throws opportunities to frame and shoot some brilliant pictures and moods that are unique to the element. Shooting in the rain throws up two distinct groups of challenges. One, how does one keep the equipment and the paraphernalia dry. Two, how does one capture the rain and the mood. One is an operational and logistics hazard while the other more about photography and the techniques.


First things first, how does one protect the equipment. There is a variety of waterproofing gear available in the market some costly some not so costly. Among the costlier options, is the sports housing for DSLR camera, this is quite expensive and touted to be effective under water and at varying depths. The depths claimed at times can be dubious, but they are effective in rains and downpours. The more feasible and practical option is to buy a camera raincoat or jacket as some call it, which is waterproofed and protects the camera. If for whatever reason you have not carried any water proof gear for the camera, use a plastic bag, wrap your camera in it, where you operate the camera from the open end and make a hole for the lens to look out. It is imperative that you use a lens hood, for it ensures the water will not collect on the lens, which would make it difficult to clear the lens in the rain and take clear pictures.


The umbrella though cumbersome to carry is perfect more so if you are shooting with a tripod. The tripod is also handy to have when shooting in challenging conditions as the pictures are steady and it allows you to use a gamut of options. It is also good to know your camera and the sealing. As a thumb rule, the costlier the camera better should be the sealing which would ensure water does not seep in. Also one has the option of using adventure cameras, which are designed to operate under water, and surely will do fine in a rain and downpour, though the images they produce might not be as good as the better DSLRs but is an option none the same.


Look for places shaded from the rain, or place where you are protected to a great extent. Could be inside your car, pull over to where you want to be, bring down your window and shoot away. Find a porch, a balcony, a multilevel parking lot or garage, anything that would protect your equipment from the rain


A recap

  • Sports housing – Costly option
  • Umbrella
  • Raincoat / rain jackets for the camera
  • Large plastic cover and make a hole for the lens to peep out if you did not carry your water proof gear
  • Lens hood
  • Silica gel packets to remove moisture and condensation in your camera bag
  • A waterproof bag to put the camera bag in
  • Find a place shaded from the rain – porch, balcony, so on

Now that we have a fair idea how best to protect our equipment, let us explore how we can shoot the best pictures. When we speak about shooting in the rain, it could be before the rain sets in, or as it is raining – a drizzle, a downpour or we could shoot the aftermath of the rains. All have their own beauty and charisma. Though in all cases one is likely to be shooting in poor light and some of the rules of shooting in poor light would work just fine. A high ISO, wide aperture meaning low aperture number, fast lens and so on. Though one significant difference will be to use a fast shutter speed to be able to capture the distinct rain drops if one is capturing the rains or else they would look like a string rather than distinct drops.


That said, the art of capturing the rain is not always in capturing the rain itself, but is more in suggesting to the viewer the rain by capturing reflections, trickles of water, hanging water droplets, the moist environs, freshly washed and green nature shots, wet damp roads, water trickling of a windshield, a drenched umbrella and so on. One has to also use the limited light, be that of street lamps or the sun peeking out or the night lights. The idea is to shoot the source of the light, focus on the source of light and shoot so that the rain is backlit and the drops visible. It is best to shoot in RAW, which allows for later flexibility in image enhancement. Take the camera and set in manual and make the adjustment as and when required. Feel free to experiment with the adjustments, explore possibilities and with time and experience one is likely to have a fair idea of how each adjustment affects the outcome.


A recap

  • Macro lens to capture pools and drops of water resting on leaves, grass etc
  • Capture reflections
  • Shoot into the light so as to backlight the rain
  • Shoot Manual
  • Shoot RAW


Though the advice is not to use flash, it might be worthwhile using low flash (not built in) and experimenting with light does play some fine tricks giving sublime results at times. One needs to explore and experiment with their cameras and various settings to arrive at broad conclusions. Many of our experiments could pleasantly surprise us with photographs we hardly imagined we could shoot.

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