Photography in the rain


Silhouettes or near silhouettes can be found on days like today. Poor lighting conditions doesn’t mean you should stay indoors. I found this hanging out in a below-the-ground parking structure.

On days like today, 49°F/9.4°C rainy, I don’t miss working at the newspaper.

I remember how miserable I was driving around looking for pictures of people in the rain.

Getting in and out of the car.

Heading to traffic collisions while every sane person was trying to avoid the traffic snarls.
Because it hardly rains in southern California, the first rains after a long dry spell, creates all manner of madness on the freeways.

Motorists who hardly keep their windshield wiper blades in tip top condition are surprised.

Then they foolishly head up the San Bernardino mountains without chains.

My biggest headache working out in the elements on days like this was deciding whether to:

  • wear a rain coat and risk my photogear getting wet
  • use an umbrella keep dry but juggle holding umbrella and cameras

Over the years of working in this inclement weather, I found this to work best:

  • knee-high boots or those that zip over your shoes
  • raincoat for yourself
  • raincoat for your camera and lens
  • forget about using flash unless you’re able to get up close and can juggle an umbrella providing it’s not windy and gusty.
  • for a small point and shoot camera, use those clear disposable shower caps

There are many places to buy fancy raincoats for  your camera and lenses but do you need them?

If you live in a place where it only rains once in a while, I think it’s frivolous. Just get yourself a supply of clear or transparent trashbags and gaffer tape.

Why clear you might ask? Well, if you’re taking pictures, in public you don’t want people to think you’re hiding a high calibre weapon, do you?

Foggy viewfinder

upside_down_shootingYou only need to make a hole for your viewfinder and then tape the other opening to the lens hood.

If you’re bothered by your breath fogging up the viewfinder, try shooting by holding your camera upside down. Huh?

You’re going to laugh at this suggestion but it works.

If you shoot on manual mode like I do, then you’re not messing with your dials and settings, so you just need access to one button.

Writing in the rain

What about if you need to write and take notes?

Believe it or not, pencil and paper works best.

If you use a pen, you’re going to get burned big-time.  When you get back, you’ll find you are not going to be able to read anything you’ve written because the ink blots.

When you’re done shooting

Don’t forget a towel to dry your gear. And lastly, have a big clear trash bag in your car to put your camera inside. Tie a knot or use a rubberband to seal in the air.

Bring the entire bag with your camera inside and let it warm to room temperature before taking your gear out. Condensation will form on the bag instead of your camera and lens.

And here’s a video to go with our weather today. I apologize if my choice of music to accompany this post gets you a little down.

I’m bummed because I just lost my cat which I’ve had for 16 years.

5 thoughts on “Photography in the rain”

  1. Yes DeeAnn,
    It’s nice to have a “high clearance” vehicle when out in the elements. Also the tailgate when raised allows you to shoot and stay dry and safe.

    For sports like football, you just have to tape your gear up better that’s all.

    Having spare clear trashbags and gaffer tape is the key for those outdoor events. I don’t miss that one bit.

    Thanks for commenting and visiting my blog.

  2. Like you Peter, I didn’t miss going out to get ‘weather shots’… The rain gear for myself is pretty much how you describe. Most important to me was my Xterra though. Back door lifted up allowing me to shoot TCs & Hemet floods safely and with cover. In back were several towels along with other safety gear. Disposable grocery bags were my best lens cover. Gaffer tape onto lens hood, open back, then trashed after assignment. These tricks wouldn’t work obviously at extended sports events (soccer & football) but did for me at most assignments.
    Sorry about Tofu, losing family is hard even if the four-legged variety.

  3. Jessica,
    Making pictures in the rain is not so different than when it’s sunny. Most cameras can handle drops here and there without problems. It’s the deluge and downpour where you’re completely drenched that will ruin your camera. As to how to show rain in pictures? That is more about the lighting and background. Rain being translucent doesn’t “read” against a light background. So you would have to move around to a position where it’s backlit or side lit and the background is dark.
    Light levels may be low when it rains but you can still make pictures by raising your ISO.
    Tofu was a bug. She had a bladder control problem but I still loved her despite having to clean up after her.

  4. Professor Phun,

    I did not know that taking pictures in the rain was even possible. At what speed would you be able to freeze a rain drop taking into consideration the lack of available light? Sorry to hear about your cat. I love my animals like children. I cannot image life without any of them.


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