As a photographer, you might be apprehensive about taking your camera out into the rain. Not just because of potential damage, but also because of the technical challenges rain photography presents.
Shooting in the rain is all about making the most of low-light, subtle hues, reflections and water. Once you adjust to the conditions, you’ll discover the true potential of photography in the rain.
Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
Protect your equipment
Electrical equipment with water is a recipe for disaster, so before heading out you need to make sure your camera is protected.
The options available cater to a range of demands – from shooting in light rain to full-on tropical monsoons –so consider what’s appropriate for you.
If you fancy going down the DIY route, just place your camera inside a plastic bag, cut a hole out of it and poke the lens through. Another alternative is to shoot from under shelter, which can help your surroundings appear more dramatic. Think under a shop awning, a bridge or an umbrella.
Don’t fight the weather conditions
Chances are, you’re shooting in the rain to capture its beauty and power to alter a scene, not to shoot how you normally would on a bright sunny day.
For this reason, it’s worth remembering that the same standards don’t apply. Shooting in the rain offers completely different advantages and challenges to shooting in the sunshine, so don’t expect the same results.
The creative limitations of shooting in the rain make it an artform and contribute to its unique aesthetic, just as imperfection and noise do with analogue photography.
In the rain, you might be concerned about low-light, bleak and misty conditions, but this is your subject when shooting in the rain. The emotion conveyed by these conditions is what you’re capturing.
Choose the right settings
If you’re used to shooting in well-lit environments, doing so in the rain allows you to explore camera functions you’re not quite familiar with.
Here’s a primer on what settings to use when shooting in the rain:
- Use a medium to high ISO setting – this will increase your camera’s sensitivity to light, while helping you gain clarity and exposure in murky, low-light environments.
- Increase the shutter speed – you may have already noticed, but rain pours from the sky quickly! So, if you want to capture droplets in freefall without motion blur, you’ll need a fast shutter speed.
- Experiment with the size of the aperture – you’ll want to balance shutter speed with aperture size. A large aperture allows more light into the camera, but you’ll need a smaller aperture to keep raindrops in focus.
- Use manual focus – rain can confuse a camera’s automatic focus function, so it’s best to leave it to human touch.
Some ideas for photography in the rain
By now, you know all of the technical stuff. But when it comes to taking a photograph in the rain, where can you glean inspiration from? Here are our suggestions:
Play with reflections
Rain gathers in cracks on pavements and depressions in roads. It pours from surfaces, turning everything active, glossy and reflective. Once the rain stops, puddles turn to mirrors.
Whether the rain is falling or has just stopped, its effects allow you to play with light and composition in a unique way and create striking photography.
Backlight the rain
If you’re shooting in rain in the daytime, the background is often misty or overcast and the rain seems to become more of a haze in your pictures. Similarly, a night sky presents no colour to compare the rain against.
To help distinguish the rain from the scenery, look for light sources that shine through or behind the rain to bring out the individual droplets. Shafts of light can create such a dramatic effect against a dark background.
Shoot in black and white
Rainy conditions give way to desaturated colours with only subtle deviations in hue.
So, why not double down on the melancholy tone and shoot in full monochrome? In the absence of colour, black and white photography encourages you to concentrate on shapes and contrast.
Shoot a city at night in the rain
Are you after that Blade Runner look? Because a rainy city night scene is the exact aesthetic.
Neon lights radiate through mist and rain, car headlights cut through it and streetlights pool below it. It’s a readymade sci-fi universe waiting to be shot.
Experiment with macro shots
Try macro shots of rain droplets on flower petals, rain droplets splashing into a puddle, rain droplets on a spiderweb or playing with bokeh.
Just about any macro photo of rain droplets on any surface creates a highly detailed and intimate photograph. Keep that in mind when you’re looking for things to shoot. Rain droplets on a window – there’s another one.
We’ve all seen lightning. Well, just about. It flashes and then it’s gone, so it might seem difficult to take a picture of it – but not if you have the right settings.
If you set your exposure somewhere between five and 10 seconds, the shutter will be open long enough to capture that familiar crack of electricity.
With long exposure photography, it helps to use a tripod to steady the camera and prevent blurring. High-rise balconies make ideal viewing spots for lightning – just make sure you’re a safe distance away and not in the middle of the storm yourself.
Just because it’s raining, this doesn’t mean the sun has gone in for the day. Keep looking out for that warm shaft of light, because you might be able to spot a rainbow.
Be sure to follow and tag us in your rainy photographs on Instagram! We’d love to see them.
Specialist photography insurance from Ripe Photography
If you’re taking photographs in the rain, you need to make sure you’re protected – and by more than just a rain sleeve. You probably take your camera everywhere with you, so you really shouldn’t leave the house without it.
At Ripe Photography, we offer specialist photography insurance you can tailor to fit your exact requirements.
Luckily, we cover your camera and accessories (including mobile phones and laptops) for accidental damage and theft. We even offer European and Worldwide cover.
Get an instant online quote with us today and shoot with peace of mind.