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Photographing Subjects in the Rain

written by: Balachandar Radhakrishnan•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/19/2011

Is the following statement true or false? Rain + Photography = Not a Great Combination. The answer is false. Read on to learn how you can make your photos more interesting and eye catching by shooting them in a rainy climate.

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    Rain - Adds That Special Feel to Pictures

    rain flowers 

    Most people believe that for an ideal photo shoot, a clear day and nice bright light is a definite requirement. When the weather gets crazy people very easily lose their photography interest. Of all weather conditions, rain provides some of the best conditions for exploring your creative side of photography! Read on to learn how to make use of rainy weather to take great photos.

    (Click on images to enlarge)

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    People are Different

    rain walking 

    Rain brings out a completely different set of behaviour patterns in people. Therefore, photographing people in the rain makes for an excellent and interesting photo opportunity. Some hate it when it rains and other go crazy, so you've got a very lively bunch of subjects to shoot. Watching people through a camera in rain can bring out some of most interesting portraits that you've ever made!

    Try this: Classify people based on their age and then capture them with your camera. Kids, teenagers, grown-ups and old people all have a very different way of reacting when it rains. A portrait taken at this moment lets you bring out the essence of the person.

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    Look for Patterns & Reflections

    Rain brings out some interesting patterns which are an important aspect of photography. Patterns can make your composition almost irresistible. If you look around carefully enough you'll notice several patterns that come up during rain and serve as wonderful objects for abstract and architectural photography.

    rain web  As the picture on the right shows, even a simple spider web with water droplets can make up a very interesting composition. Another great rainy day photo is rain droplets acting as mirrors producing a plethora of reflections. This kind of an image is difficult to come across, but if your look for it you'll definitely find it. Try shooting with a shallow depth of field so that the water droplets and their reflections are in perfect focus, remember that you're trying depict pictures inside a picture!rain droplets 

    Once you get the hang of it, you'll start churning out photos like this, with great compositional value, frequently. Its like swimming, its difficult when you learn it, but once you've trained yourself the eyes never miss the scenes.

    Another interesting aspect of shooting under rainy conditions are reflections! Rain water serves as light reflectors, depending on how you compose your shot. I recommend starting with trying to take photos of reflections in the water, once you get a hold of this you can move onto to more advanced tricks. Reflections add a sense of awe, as well as an abstract feeling, to your photographs. So, remember to scan each and every puddle that you come across for that great view that you would never come across on a bright and dry sunny day. rain reflection 

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    Isolation Can Give You Perfect Compositon

    rain photographers Sometimes you need to lose people in a frame to get that fabulous shot and a rainy day may very well be the opportunity that you were waiting for. Remember when everybody's indoors you should be out with your camera to make use of the empty streets and isolation. In fact, some of the most simple and common photographs that you've seen filled with people would give you a totally different picture when the place has a desolate look.

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    The final touch

    Some additional tips to keep in mind when photographing the rain:

    • Protect your cameras! Yeah, now that might seem obvious but at times enthusiasm gets the best of you. Not all cameras are weather sealed, I suggest using a zip lock bag to protect your cameras. And if you're creative enough, you can actually shoot with the zip lock bags on the camera!
    • Use a dark colored umbrella. If you are using an umbrella while shooting (even though I personally find it cumbersome), use a dark one so that stray light doesn't spoil your shot.
    • On the other hand... If you own a light colored umbrella, you could use that to your advantage by trying to light up the rain drops and come home with some truly amazing shots.
    • Get creative with color. If you've observed carefully, you'll see that colors pop out during rain, so use them to your advantage! Also keep in mind that black & white photos can look fabulous under these conditions.
    • Pay attention to different surfaces. Surfaces like glass, plastic, wood and oil behave very differently to light under rain. Watch out for them, you could have some nice abstract shots.

    If all the above tips seem too simple to be true or they don't provide you with enough inspiration to get out into the rain with your camera, take a look at some of the best photographs shot in the rain. These shots can help you get further ideas on how to change to your photographic style while shooting in the rain.