How to Take Pictures in the Rain – taking photos in the rain with a dslr can be tricky and stressful. Here is your ultimate guide with camera settings for rainy day, tips for family photos in the rain or portraits in the rain.
There’s something about taking photographs in the rain that I love. Perhaps because they aren’t your typical blue sky, sunshine, warm and fuzzy kind of photographs and I love a good challenge.
Rain also makes me nostalgic and a little homesick – I grew up in Vancouver BC, aka “rain-city” so whenever I wanted to be outside the weather had other ideas. With that being said, shooting in the rain doesn’t have to be that much of a challenge if you are prepared. Here is a quick checklist to get you started and I’ll go into more detail below.
A long waterproof jacket with hood
A good sturdy wood handle umbrella (preferably one with the rounded handle so if the rain does stop it’s easier to carry on your arm or hook onto your camera bag)
Rolling camera bag
Baby stroller rain cover.
Optional – a rain sleeve for your camera.
Umbrellas for your subjects/clients.
Know where your covered outdoor areas are.
Sometimes you don’t have a choice but to shoot in the rain (weddings!) but I encourage you to try other types of photography in the rain if your clients are open to it. Cloud cover is the best time to photograph people because the clouds act as a natural diffuser for the sun so that you don’t get harsh shadows and have more even light – unless of course, the dramatic look is the look that you’re going for 😉
How to Take Pictures in the Rain
The most important thing about shooting in the rain is to protect your gear, so I will go into that first.
I typically shoot weddings and family photography for my clients and of course candids of my kids (and lets not forget our pet dogs too!) so depending on how many lenses you plan to bring with you I would suggest investing in a good roller-style bag. They basically look like mini suitcases with telescoping handles and have lots of compartments that you can adjust for lenses and a camera body or two.
I used to carry all my gear on me with straps and a lens bag but when I did a wedding 8 months pregnant I was very happy (and relieved) to have a rolling bag to save my back from being sore later. A roller bag also comes in handy in the rain to protect your gear – although it is not waterproof. This is where a stroller rain cover comes in handy. I was second shooting for a photog friend of mine and she had one to put over top of her roller bag to protect it from the rain and I thought it was genius! Instant waterproofing.. Assuming you don’t plan to go off-roading with said roller bag in giant puddles.
A sturdy umbrella, the larger kind with a wooden handle (preferably rounded at the end) will protect most of you, and your camera from getting soaked. Make sure when you’re shooting that you sandwich the umbrella handle close to your body with your arm so that you can still have both hands free for using your camera. Even better is an assistant umbrella holder – if you have one!
If you get sideways downpours of rain that remind you of those old fake-looking rain movies that they used to make in the 1920s and 1930s – like we do here in Cambridge, Ontario – then you will want a very long waterproof rain jacket, rain boots and possibly even rain pants. Lucky for us here that kind of downpour doesn’t typically last long!
If you’re not photographing people and you plan to stay in one spot for a period of time, or if you aren’t planning on using more than one lens it might be a good idea to use a camera sleeve. You’ll be able to find them at your local camera equipment store. It’s basically a plastic sleeve that your camera and lense go into. there is an opening at the lens and you can secure a lens hood like you would normally to protect your glass from rain drops.
If you’re going for a uniform look you’ll want to make sure that you supply clear umbrellas for your clients. Chances are they will have mis-matched umbrellas – or black umbrellas. Trust me when I say how difficult it is to colour correct different colour casts in the same image.
One way to avoid this is to position the umbrella at an angle so it doesn’t cause shadows or color casts on your clients faces. When it rains it can be darker outside and you may have to bump up your ISO to 400 or 500. I wouldn’t go much over 500 to avoid grain. Trying to correct grain in post-processing is also time consuming. If you can get it right in camera and have less post-processing to do, all the better. This is why clear umbrellas are my favorite – although not always possible and that’s okay too!
I like to make sure I know where archways, overhangs, large full bodied trees are as well because as fun as it is to be creative with umbrellas in the rain you’ll probably want to get some outdoor shots without them too.
And of course, remember to have fun with it! Go with the flow, get out of your comfort zone and experiment with something new 🙂
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Hello 🙂 I’m a wedding and family photographer based out of Cambridge Ontario, Canada. I love capturing love and am so very blessed to be able to do what I love and to love what I do. When I’m not photographing clients I’m with my two toddlers taking photos of everyday life for my 365 project, blogging, going to Zumba or camping in the woods somewhere. I’d love to connect with you on social media via the links above!