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Experienced photographers know that the rainy weather is a great time to go outside with the camera and take beautiful pictures. Here are some useful tips to help you get started.
While many novice photographers head inside when the rain begins, savvy photographers will head right out into it—and land some stunning photos. Taking photos in the rain might seem counter-intuitive, but rain can transform an annoyingly familiar scene into one fresh and full of opportunity. In fact, the more extreme the rain, the more drama you can capture. You just need to know how to go about it. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Obviously, the first thing we have to deal with in the with rain is keeping your camera dry. We all know that electronics and water don’t mix, and no one wants to risk having their expensive camera destroyed. That being said, unless you’re in a hurricane, keeping your camera dry is actually easier than you might think. You just need to be prepared.
The second challenge when shooting in the rain is how to capture the rain itself. Without the right settings and lighting, rain will often look dull, gray, and often times nearly invisible.
The sky is the limit as to subjects for rain photography, but some subjects work better than others. For example, unless it’s pouring or your subject is already backlit, it’ll be hard to see the rain. That’s when you can look to puddles and other water surfaces. With enough light, the reflections and color saturation will offer up a whole host of creative opportunities. If you’re shooting street photography, look for the moments where people are reacting to the rain. If you can capture the emotion—whether stoic determination, child-like joy, or the dread of getting wet, you’ll have a great photo.
For most shots, you’ll probably want more than just the subject in focus. Getting everything from the background to the rain itself in focus can really look amazing, and that means shooting with a deeper depth of field. Try starting out with f/8 and work your way up to a tighter aperture from there.
Unless you’re going for a misty effect, you’ll also need a fairly quick shutter speed—1/250 sec or higher. With the smaller aperture, this might mean having to bump up the ISO, but that’s ok. It’s better to have a bit of noise in a stellar photo than to lose the shot entirely.
Without interesting lighting, your rain shots are likely to turn out flat and gray. In landscapes, that means look for storms that have light breaks. For street shots, look for everything from car lights, neon signs, and light streaming out of windows—all of these can make for some amazing shots. If you arrange your scene so that the subject (and rain) is backlit, you’ll be more likely to capture the rain itself in the shot. The main rule of thumb is to shoot as directly as you can towards the light source while avoiding overpowering your exposure. (Your lens hood can come quite in handy here.)
Photo courtesy of Steve Halama
If you want the raindrops to really show up, you can also try using a bit of flash. Not a bright flash—a -2 or -3 will do just fine. Alternatively, use an off-camera flash or even a flashlight off to the side to create some side-light for the rain.
Just remember, there’s really no “bad” weather in photography—just challenges laced with opportunity. Master the challenges of rain and a whole world of opportunity will open up for you.
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