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Photography In The Rain: Tips And Advice

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Category: General Photography

Tips On Taking Photos In The Rain - Doug Jackson explains why rain shouldn't stop you from taking photos.

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Article by Doug Jackson - dougjacksonphotography.blogspot.co.uk

Just because the rain starts doesn't mean the photography has to stop. Often the hardest things when working in all conditions is dealing with sensitive and valuable camera equipment. In my experience often the gear is far better at this and less vulnerable than you think (play at your own risk) and when working as a press photographer you often have no choice but to keep on shooting.

Portrait taken in the rain
Taken in a dark woodland with the flash in frame to the RHS. This was underexposed natural daylight. Rain can give some amazing effects in portraits but you have to be bold enough to use it. Photo by Doug Jackson Photography.

Wedding photography in rain
Back light with wireless flash gives very dramatic effects. The couple were not stood in the rain here but inside a porch with the flash in the rain. Photo courtesy of DJP WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

Practical Tips:

A Chamois Leather Lens Cloth
Trusty chamois cut into 6 inch squares will last you a lifetime if kept dirt/grit free. It works better than an expensive lens cloth too.

Most press photographers use a small piece of good old fashioned chamois leather (pronounced 'shamee') as a lens wipe and I'm assuming you'd all have a clear filter on the lenses. If you don't,  you should! Wiping rain drops off the lens with a chamois gives instant results with no residue left.

Use A Lens Hood
A lens hood is normally to stop flare from the sun but they do shelter lenses from rain spots. Particularly the bigger ones on longer telephoto lenses.

Protect Your Gear
Be sensible and keep as much of your gear tucked away in your bag as you can. If you have a camera on your shoulder then tuck it under your arm. If you're working with flash be aware that if water gets on the hot shoe between flash and camera body all hell can break lose and it all behaves very oddly. If this happens, a quick wipe with a trusty chamois will normally sort things out.

Shooting Tips:

Water is a solid substance in the air and therefore affected like any other visible body by flash or depth of field. If you want to make a feature of the rain you can back-light it with flash or/and shoot with the widest aperture to give you a shallow depth of field. If you're shooting without flash a shutter speed of 1/200th second is important to fix the rain drops and stop them blurring.

Rain photography Rain portrait
Above Left: No flash and natural flat light minimises effects in light rain. Also, rain only shows on dark backgrounds. Above Right: Umbrellas can be nice props and add interest to a shot. Reflections on pavements etc. are also fun especially in puddles at night.

Close up portrait
Long lens and shallow depth of field couples with a fast shutter speed will fix rain drops. Photo courtesy of DJP WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

Dark backgrounds
Note how drops show up on dark background. Photo courtesy of DJP WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

If you want to hide the rain try a slower shutter speed and don't use flash. A final note of caution: Using direct flash will simply light up the rain drops in front of the camera!

Rain drops
This was taken on a G12 Canon compact (my travel camera) in extremely wet conditions. It just show how direct flash just lights up the raindrops in front of the camera. Not nice.

Backlit portrait
Shots that are backlit with sunlight also create dramatic effects. Photo courtesy of DJP WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

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bornav  2 India
27 Jun 2012 - 5:41 AM

The rainy conditions in Britain are probably milder than the heavy showers in Indian subcontinent, where it's practically impossible for photography (even under an umbrella). Can you please suggest some techniques for photography in these extreme conditions?

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