For most people, rain can really dampen the mood. Plans are called off in favour of a warm cup of tea indoors, staying as dry and toasty as possible. For photographers, however, the bad weather yields unique styles and colours different to a normal sunny day. Offering unmissable photo opportunities, the rain brings with it a sheen of magic that transforms the average scene into a rich work of art.
You’d be wise to be a little hesitant and cautious of bringing a camera into the rain. Water and camera gear are not an ideal combination, so always make sure to protect your gear from potential water damage. Make sure to bring a raincoat for both you and your equipment. Consider investing in airtight rain covers, which are designed to keep your camera dry throughout your expeditions.
Even with these precautions, always be sure to completely dry off your gear at the end of every shoot, to ensure that it’s still in perfect condition
So, you’re all geared up and ready to venture outside, but you find you’re faced with the age-old problem of rain photography: how to show rain in pictures. Even for experienced photographers, photographing rain can be quite hard. Falling rain is a moving subject and it can tend to blur, creating a dull, grey effect that is often very different from how the naked eye perceives rain.
For an exaggerated blurry effect, shoot in the shutter speed priority mode. Decreasing the shutter speed will increase the blur and make the rain look like lines. To stop the drops, use a fast shutter speed and set your camera to a very wide aperture, then correct the lighting by adjusting the camera’s ISO sensitivity.
Due to the fact that it’s rather difficult to actually see the rain itself, consider including visual cues such as reflections to show that it is raining. Use the reflective nature of water to your advantage and transform your images. This could be the glimmer of the streets, the vibrant array of umbrellas or a small puddle. At night, capture the way the lights in store windows and neon streetlights scatter onto the ground, making the pavements sparkle.
Sometimes, the photo opportunities don’t appear right in front of you. Bend down to photograph the reflection of urban features against the stillness of a puddle from ground level. Framing your images with these low angle reflections will bring out the lines and symmetry that often go unnoticed — a unique take on the ordinary that induces awe and wonder.
Rain photography works with low light, grey skies, unsaturated colours and lots of reflections. As a result, lighting becomes yet another tricky factor to be taken into account. First and foremost, abandon auto mode. Auto settings will try to compensate for dark conditions, which will add too much light and make your photos look much brighter than they actually are. This will take away the moody atmosphere of a rainy shot.
If you’re in the mood for experimenting, try out back lighting in the rain. Photographing the rain at night in front of a streetlight or a car’s headlights can make the rain more visible, injecting a mysterious vibe. You could also try capturing the dark silhouette of pedestrians, illuminated from the back, as they walk through the wet pavements. Take the road less taken and create eye-catching and artistic shots.
Rain transforms both landscapes and people. Notice the nuanced changes in the tone of your surroundings and bring out the human element in an otherwise mundane street photo. Convey the frustration of the fully drenched commuter, or the blissful joy of a child as they splash into puddles. These elements will help you add character and dimension to ordinary images, making each moment that much more impactful.
The next time it rains, let it be a reason for you to pick up your camera and explore. Highlight the extraordinary in the ordinary and let the rain inspire you.