When the weather takes a turn for the worse, a lot of photographers put away their cameras. It’s always the same old sob story. It’s gray out. Nothing has any color. But nothing could be further from the truth. When it starts to rain, whatever does have color becomes extremely colorful. It’s the perfect time to get out and photograph the flowers in your garden or just about anything.
There are a few precautions you have to take in wet weather, but other than that, you should be perfectly fine. You can even take pictures in a downpour as long as you’re comfortable and your camera is covered. I highly recommend bringing the following things with you.
- Rain gear. What’s the point of taking pictures if you’re miserable and cold? Protect yourself first, especially your feet. Keep them toasty, and you’ll be outside for hours on end.
- A plastic Ziploc bag. When it really starts to rain, you can always put your camera in a Ziploc bag. Just point the lens out the opening.
- A cloth. Water will get on your lens. It’s not the end of the world. It just means you’ll need to keep wiping it off every now and again.
Umbrellas are optional. They can be a bit tricky to manage, especially when you’re already holding onto your camera and trying to take a picture. Having said that, I’ve seen some pretty amazing umbrella balancing techniques from my photographer friends. It’s a bit of a circus act, but it works.
What to photograph in the rain
You don’t have to go very far to find something to photograph in the wet weather. Start right in your own backyard. If you’re an avid gardener, you should have plenty of colorful flowers and plants just waiting to be photographed. This really is the best time to do it. Not only do the colors pop, but there are water droplets everywhere.
Once you get tired of your backyard, take a stroll down the streets and look at the puddles. A perfectly still puddle acts like a mirror, creating an interesting visual effect, like the photo at the top of this page. It’s a great way to frame a subject that would otherwise be cliche or uninteresting on its own. For more on this, see my tip on Reflections.
People make an excellent subject on a rainy day. Emotions tend to be heightened as they make their way through busy streets, usually in a rush to avoid getting soaking wet. Try taking silhouette pictures with the sun behind your subjects. Later on, you can go into Photoshop and see if they make a nice black and white photo.
Lightning is another one. Have a look at my tutorial on lightning photography. Although it takes some practice, it’s not as hard as you might think. That’s because you’ll be keeping your camera’s shutter open a lot longer than usual. When the lightning strikes, there’s a good chance you’ll capture it. If you’ve ever wondered how photographers can capture lightning when it all happens so fast, that’s how.
Whatever you do, keep looking for the colors that pop out. Check out this image. It’s almost unreal!
Don’t forget about after the rain
It’s fun taking pictures in the rain, but it’s even better when the clouds clear, and the sun comes out again. Rain clouds add an unparalleled element of drama to a scene. They provide a dark background that makes everything stand out in stark contrast. Sometimes the clouds open up and give you a window into the blue. You can never predict when it’s going to happen, but it can be the deal breaker for a scene.
This is when you’ll want to take landscape photos and the like. We’ve mostly been talking about macro photography and pictures of things close by. But if the sun is out, chances are your scene will be colorful all around. I suggest you do whatever you can to find something to put in front of that dark background. You’ll almost always get a keeper.
The big takeaway? Don’t be dissuaded by the rain. There are a lot of ways to express your creativity when the skies are grey, and it’s wet outside. You won’t damage your camera, and if you put on the right gear, you’ll have a great time.
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