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Capturing Rain in Photos

April 9, 2015 1:41 pm

According to photojournalist Jim Richardson from National Geographic, “when it starts to rain, good photographers head out to make pictures.” This might sound contradictory to what you want to do when it’s raining (which is huddle inside where it’s dry), but in truth, you can capture some amazing shots in the rain. There are of course some tricks to achieving good rain photographs because the rain can appear dreary, dull, gray and even invisible in images, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. With a little help from an experienced photographer like Jim Richardson, you may soon find yourself looking forward to rain.

Protect your camera

No one cares if the photographer gets wet (except the photographer) but it’s never a good thing to get a normal camera wet. Protect your gear from the rain by purchasing one of the millions of rain covers and having it with you for wet shoots. Jim Richardson’s cover of choice is the Storm Jacket from Vortex Media because it finds it simple and effective in a variety of wet situations. If you find yourself shooting in the rain without a proper rain cover, a gallon-size bag with a hole for your lens to poke through works in a pinch.

Seek shelter

You don’t have to be out in the rain being drenched to capture a good rain shot, but you do need to be closer than looking through a closed window. Seek out an awning or a porch to shoot from, be patient and “wait for the pictures to come to you,” advises Jim.

In-car studio

Shooting from inside the relative shelter of a car gives you a portable photo studio in the rain. Even with the windows down you can stay relatively dry as long as it isn’t raining sideways.

Umbrella versatility

A small folding umbrella should fit nicely in your camera bag and it can protect your camera from the rain. If you don’t have someone to hold the umbrella for you, hold the shaft in the same hand as your camera to keep it directly over your gear. Jim is careful to point out though that using umbrellas is unwise in thunderstorms because they can act as lightning rods. For just normal rain though, consider including the umbrella in your shots as it serves a handy framing device. Jim advices bringing the umbrella “down into the top of the picture when you are shooting with a wide angle and it nicely fills the upper part of the frame, providing a nice visual cue that it is, in fact, raining.” The umbrella can also cover the clouds that are too bright in the scene and result in better exposure for your shot.

Use reflections

Rain creates puddles and can make an entire street shimmer at night so seek out these reflections when you’re shooting. Using reflections transforms regular street scenes into reflected mirrors full of depth and intriguing silhouettes.

Backlighting

Without the right light, it’s difficult to tell that it’s raining in your shots so seek out light sources and shoot toward them. Jim suggest finding the magic angle for your shots because “One, the more directly you shoot into the light, the better you can see the raindrops. Two, shoot too directly and the light source will overpower your exposure.”

Use a little flash

Too much flash in rain shots creates more light than you want in the image, but if you turn it way down, Jim suggests -3.0 stops, it can add a little “pop to the raindrops.” Getting this technique just right will take some practice and experimentation, but when it works right, it’s worth the effort.

Capture emotions

Rain brings out different emotions in people. Some feel joy and others feel sadness or misery, so keep your eyes open and capture these emotions in your shots.

Learning to shoot in the rain opens up greater possibilities and opportunities in your photography. When you’ve captured some amazing shots, give them the attention they deserve with Baboo Digital’s various printing and mounting options.

Featured image by Jim Richardson