Photography in the rain provides an array of creative possibilities. Rain doesn’t simply change the light’s colour temperature but also the subject’s reflexive properties.

The colour of wet objects changes and the colours become more intense. The contrast changes as well. For instance, wet asphalt is darker and stands in stark contrast to the light‘s reflexion on the wet surfaces. However, rain can also reduce contrast and have the same effect as a soft focus. A long focal length and great distances to the subject intensify this effect.

Ein neuer Regentag – Der Blick zum Fenster – Valle Maira – Italien 2010
Another rainy day – View out of the window - Maira Valley – Italy 2010

Interesting subjects and lighting moods also arise before and after rain. Just think of the dramatics of a storm, beams of light bursting through the clouds or rainbows.

Tips on photographing in the rain

  • Do you want to freeze a raindrop in its tracks or do you want to see the sheets of rain in the image?
    • To freeze a raindrop in its tracks, use a shutter speed that is faster than 1/250 seconds. If the shutter speed is slower, the raindrops appear as sheets of rain.
  • If you use a flash in the rain, the raindrops that are close to the camera show up very bright, possibly white in the image. This effect can be distracting, therefore, maybe forego using the flash or use this effect to create an interesting image. Try out the different effects for yourself.
  • If you want to emphasise rain (raindrops), choose a dark background, e.g. trees, buildings.

Despite the many possibilities photography in the rain offers, most photographers concentrate on taking pictures of subjects in sunlight. This pattern has to do with convenience but it also has to do with being concerned about your photographic equipment. Moisture can destroy the sensitive photographic equipment irretrievably. Nevertheless, you can still capture images in the rain without any expensive gear. Find a sheltered place where you watch all the comings and goings, e.g. under a cafe‘s awning. An umbrella can also be very useful.

Take care of your equipment. Only very few cameras can withstand moisture without any problems being caused. There is special protective equipment for cameras; in the worst case you can use a plastic bag. Usually you cannot avoid some rain getting on your equipment. Many manufacturers have recognised this problem and offer compact and single-lens reflex waterproof cameras and lenses. A cloth to dry off the camera and a clean microfiber cloth for the front lens are must-haves in every photographer’s bag. You can use waterproof cameras that were developed especially for underwater photography or additional unwater housing for more carefree photography. Camera manufacturers and other manufacturers offer these housings for a variety of devices and some offer protection for up to 40 meters, i.e. more than enough protection against rain. On the one hand, the high usability is positive, on the other hand, the size and relatively high price is negative.

Camera with underwater housing - Example Olympus Pen E-P1 [Image: Olympus]
Camera with underwater housing - Example Olympus Pen E-P1 [Image: Olympus]

…there are also compact cameras that can withstand even the heaviest of rain…

Waterproof compact – Example Olympus mju1050SW [Image: Olympus]
Waterproof compact – Example Olympus mju1050SW [Image: Olympus]

More inspiration on the topic of Photographing in the rain“ can be found here Photo tip „Bad weather?!