Friday, 26 July 2013

Rain Photography Tips - How to Capture Rain in Photography

Photo By: Daniel Stark

Rain is a wonderful phenomenon of nature; it can make a desert bloom, inundate a city or even a whole country wreaking havoc to millions throwing their lives out of gear. For photographers rain offers many rare opportunities.  Rain lashes out everything in the vicinity; drops of water hang on all possible objects; colors, reflections, shadows, emotions, and much more everywhere. The cup overflows for one who is after a good scene to frame.

Rain has the power to transform ordinary scenes into rich, vibrant and captivating ones. It also has a huge impact on people and animals and even plants.People react to rain with a gamut of emotions ranging from the sullen faces of rain-drenched commuters to children exhilarating the wondrous joy in sportive mood.

rain photography settings
Photo By: Doug Wheller

Rainy season is the time for photographers to let their creativity run wild and capture some stunning pictures; it may be just a drizzle or a torrential one, at times the rain may be accompanied by breeze or storm. In either way photographer gets his right theme! Rain photography is fine art that requires engaging of some innovative techniques. It also calls for skill and tremendous amount of patience to get outstanding results. Please refer our previous article titled‘How to Photograph Rain’; here we will deal with some technical tips to capture rain drops the way you want it.

Before we begin a sane advice; though rain offers many vivid frames to the camera; it is not a camera-friendly phenomenon; water can do irreparable damages to the equipment. The first and foremost challenge in photographing rain is keep ourselves and our equipment from getting drenched. Although a few drops of water falling outside of the camera body won’t hurt it, you certainly don’t want to expose your camera to a heavy downpour.

Rain Photography Settings

The best lens to Shoot Rain

rain photography ideas
Photo By: Steve Wall

There is no best lens as such to shoot rain, but since longer focal lenses let you capture the rain without getting immersed in rain. It would be wise to use longer lenses; so that you could avoid the possible risk of splashes hitting your equipment at totally unexpected times.  Longer focal length lenses also magnifies the subject (which includes rain drops) and thus could bring more impact to the rain drops.

The Key is with Shutter Speed

tips for photographing rain
Photo By: Eric

Rain drops are moving objects, and their speed varies with accompanying wind and the strength of the downpour.Images of raindrops can vary a great deal from how our eyes perceive them; their quality   really depends upon the shutter speed; used to capture the rain.

First thing to decide when attempting to capture rain drops is how you wish your drops should appear in your photograph. Whether to picture them as individual drops frozen fora moment or to capture them in a slight blur to give a sense of movement.

To get individual rain drops frozen in the photo; fast shutter speeds come in to use. Anything above 1/1000th of a second will work well for achieving it. To capture a slight movement, use slower shutter speeds are. For slow-speeds; remember how slow you need to go will depend on the speed at which the rain drops are falling at the moment. But a good starting point will be 1/125th of a second. 1/60th of a second is another speed found to produce very pleasing results.

how to photograph rain
Photo By: Claudio Alejandro Mufarrege

  • Since exact control over shutter speed is your main objective Shutter Priority/Time Value will be a good choice of shooting mode. 
  • Too slow a shutter speeds make the rain drops completely disappear making your images foggy in appearance.
  • The longer the focal length of the lens; the greater the subject magnification; and raindrops travel more traversing the frame; hence increasing of focal length creates more blur while the shutter-speed is kept same.
  • In dim light conditionsslightly increase your ISO settings. 
  • In dull conditions it is also possible to use flash to completely freeze the raindrops.

Best Lighting for Photographing Rain

tips for photographing rain drops
Photo By: Ling HK

The best way to capture rain is when the rain drops are side-lit. Even backlit conditions will work.Directly shooting into the light is better but doing it too directly may cause trouble with your exposure; the magic angle is somewhere in between these two and is left to your innovation.

A good way to find out the best lighting is to use your own eyes, walk around your subject and find the position from where you could see the rain most clearly; find out the best angle/lighting to shoot; time spent on these assessments never goes waste because such a rain along with such an object and frame may not coincide another day; make the best out of this coincidence!

About the Right Background

settings for rain photography
Photo By: Sel

The best background to shoot rain is dark ones. I have found dark green background (blurred foliage) works best for most subjects and is easily available in most situations.

To Flash or Not

Rain Photography
Rain Photography

Don’t go for flash other than either using flash as a fill light or using it as the only light source. If used properly it could produce very interesting results, it will light up the raindrops and give them a slight pop. Finding the right flash power setting for your subject/scene will require some testing but when things come together the results could be quite magical.

Rain may come and rain may go; work hard to make your images remain forever; happy monsoon happy rains and happy images!