I like night photography. Not everyone does it and it’s certainly not something any old Joe can do from his camera phone, at least not well. That’s the thing about photography, as the art grows it’s getting harder and harder to find a type of photography that will stand apart from the millions of photos being taken every day. Finding photo projects that deviate away from mainstream photography can be a challenge now that just about everyone owns a decent camera and since everyone wants to be original I thought this would be a good time to talk about taking photographs when nobody else wants to… in the rain.
Rain photography, not to be confused with pictures of rain drops, is an art in and of itself. First thing first, protect yourself and your gear. Photographing in the rain is similar to photographing at night in that it will be difficult for people to see you. You should wear bright clothing, especially if you’re in a city or near a road. Always tell someone where you will be and be aware of your surroundings. Ponchos and waterproof boots are a good start (sandals or water shoes in the summer if it’s warm and you don’t mind wet feet).
If you don’t have someone to hold an umbrella over you and your precious equipment you will be wiping your lens every two seconds or ruining your camera (if it’s not weatherproof). There is a reason you don’t see people lined up at tourist spots with their cameras during a rain storm.
You will need an umbrella but you will need one you can hold with one hand as well as operate your camera. Brolly has been getting a lot of attention as of late because of their umbrellas that have finger holes in the grip so you can use your camera while holding it. Technically they were developed for texting in the rain, like we need more distracted people walking around into the traffic during a rain storm… amiright? You can check them out at their website Brollytime.com, they are selling for $20 which seems reasonable.
A camera raincoat is the next line of defense. Umbrellas keep you and your camera fairly dry but rain blows… literally. A camera raincoat will keep the stray raindrop from ruining your gear. There are plenty of choices on the market but there is no need to shell out the big bucks. For about $14 you can pick up a professional camera raincoat off of Amazon.
Tripod, you will definitely need a tripod as the rain clouds block the sun you may be tempted to raise your ISO but don’t. When you raise your ISO it can introduce a little noise and while a little noise is acceptable you need to be aware the that rain falling from the sky will make it look like even more noise and your photo will look mediocre. Use the tripod and keep your ISO around 200 or 300 max.
When it’s really raining out try shooting in shutter priority so you can slow your shutter down and make the rain look like it’s moving rather than frozen in mid-air. Slow shutter speeds are great for photographing folks with umbrellas at bus stops while other people without an umbrella rush by in a blur (literally, if your shutter is slow enough).
Puddles are by far my favorite. I like jumping in them, splashing them on the person walking next to me, and photographing the reflections I see in them. Puddles would make a great photo challenge all by themselves, next time it rains grab your camera and spend an hour photographing everything you see in the puddles.
Look for people enjoying themselves in the rain, a small boy jumping in the puddle or a couples embrace in the rain without a care in the world. Get up high and photograph down on a group of people with umbrellas, maybe you’ll get lucky and there will be the one random person without an umbrella in a sea of umbrellas.
Want to know the best part about photographing in the rain? It’s what comes before and after. Landscape photographs can be the most dramatic as a storm front is rolling in or just as the clouds break and the sky switches to a yellowish color and sun rays start peeking out. Find yourself a door way or an awning in the city or town and set up your tripod and just watch, watch people rush by and the weather change.
So get out there and get some great unique shots. Find something you want to share and you can submit it by hitting the Submit an Article link above. Enjoy!