Photography You Can Do on a Rainy Day
Most people are generally afraid of rainy days. Some would even automatically equate it to having bad weather so much so that many activities often get put on hold because of the rain. This is also true for photographers. Many photographers tend to put shoots on hold because the weather is unfavorable. However, in instances where the creative pursuit is flexible and the photographer is able to adapt to the situation, the rain, the gloomy weather, and even the storm can be used to their advantage.
Most photographs whether portraits, landscapes, street, or travel photos are often seen with “favorable” or “pleasant” weather and that is perhaps due to the quality of light coming from the sun when shooting outdoors. However, it is undoubtable that there are various qualities and visual factors due to rainy days that contribute to a unique mood or aesthetic in photographs. Here are some rainy day photography ideas that you can try.
Reflections in Street Photography
Rainy days are generally dimmer and this applies both during the day and at night. However this also means that all the water on the ground and on the surfaces around will generally have reflections and this is a great opportunity to come up with creative compositions.
Using reflections and creating symmetry can be a highly effective technique in giving your rain day photography a unique pop. One approach to do this is in shooting street photography. The rain often lessens the number of people walking in the street and this can create favorable isolation in photographing candid moments of people. Usually, the struggle of braving the rain creates a mood that talks about resilience and determination and this can be found in most rainy scenarios. On the other hand, people who carry umbrellas also create a distinct charm especially when the umbrella is of a bright color that would stand out in the dark scene. That, and the unique perspective of using reflections will definitely create an impactful image that viewers will enjoy.
Photographing people in the rain definitely create a dramatic and moody environment like no other. However, the dimmer lighting environment usually means having additional challenges in creating a balanced and effective exposure and having ways to manipulate, add, or shape light will come in handy. When photographing people in the city as it rains, the challenge is usually because the reflections coming from the illuminated buildings and street lamps around will probably mean that the person in the photograph will be less illuminated than everything around which will contribute against putting emphasis in your subject. This is why using portable off-camera flash or even portable LED light sources can be very helpful in creating balanced images. When you are able to shape the light from a beneficial direction, not only will this result in a more balanced and better illuminated image but also enhance the depth that is seen in the photograph. On the other hand, the added light source can also be used the other way. If you think about it, all the wet surfaces around during a rainy day can virtually be used as light modifiers that can help you create and shape the lighting of any scene. This means that aside from pointing the light at your subject, you can actually manipulate the scene by casting light on reflective surfaces that would contribute to the visual design of your image. Whether you aim to show the person’s identity or to use the person as a mere visual element, the placement and intensity of the added light source can definitely offer a lot of possibilities.
Reflections in Cityscapes
One satisfying way of photographing cityscapes is finding ways to photograph it with symmetry and the most common way is to find a significant body of water that will show a nice side of the city. However, this is not always something you can easily find in the urban jungle especially those that are significantly dense and cramped up. Thankfully, a little rain can easily fix that problem. When rain falls significantly onto the city streets, there are bound to be puddles of water around. These often unwanted pools of water in the streets can be used to your advantage. By placing your camera significantly low and close to the surface, you can force the perspective to be able to create reflection symmetry that shows however much of the city you can fit within the frame. Even puddle that is only a meter wide can be used to fill the frame of a wide-angle lens and create a very impactful and compelling composition. This forced perspective will definitely be like nothing a usual passerby would see around.
Take impossible photos by turning your camera into a high-speed capture device!
Take impossible photos by turning your camera into a high-speed capture device!
To make this happen, you would require a few helpful tools. Aside from your camera, you will need a wide angle lens especially if the space between you and the cityscape is relatively small. Using a wide angle lens will allow you to capture a bigger scene even if it is reflecting on a very small surface area. The wide angle lens would also have to have a significantly close minimum focusing distance and shoot with a small aperture to be able to capture the reflections in as much detail as possible. Since the scene is most likely dark and shooting in long exposure will definitely have its benefits, a reliable tripod is necessary. Long exposure will of course allow you to have a much cleaner image by avoiding high ISOs and at the same time, help you cancel out any roughness in the surface of flowing water. Alternatively, using a compact tabletop tripod can also be a good option. Tripods that are only about 5 or 6 inches tall can help you keep your camera as close to the ground as possible while still protecting it from being submerged in water. As long as the small tripod is capable of carrying the weight of your camera, it will be able to play its part well.
Another extremely helpful tool is a smart camera remote trigger. Since you are shooting from a low angle, it would not be ergonomically beneficial to shoot bending down to the ground for the duration of the shot. This is where having a wireless remote control for your camera will come in most handy. For one, shooting long exposures from such an angle can result to camera shake that would ruin the shot. More than that, having more advanced functions in your camera trigger will give you a smoother rain photography workflow.
One technique that you can do is to use relatively short long exposures to illustrate the path of illuminated moving objects. Most commonly, these are trails created by vehicular traffic. By shooting an exposure just long enough to cover the amount of time that a car passes in frame, you can create visually dynamic reflection images. This can either be done by waiting specifically for the right moment that a car will pass and create that trail. The other approach is using a lazer sensor such as the one found on the MIOPS Smart+ to automatically trigger an exposure once something passes in front of the trigger. As long as your camera is in a secure position, this can be done very easily as controlled by a smartphone.
To take your rain photography images even further, you can shoot a time-lapse that will show how drastically the environment changes during a rainy day. Rain often comes with significantly faster movement of that clouds that contribute a lot to the lighting environment. This means that the changes in the scene also happen much faster and being able to show that in a few seconds of an assembled video clip can be quite an experience. In addition to what was mentioned above, the MIOPS Smart+ can help you create dynamic time-lapse photography of the rain without having to worry about the process. The Smart+ has a wide collection of interval shooting and time-lapse modes that help you adapt to the changes in the light as well as deal with the harshest storms.
Lighting and Storm-lapse
Another landscape photography approach that can be done on a rainy day is to photograph lightning. During a thunderstorm (which is often accompanied by rain) the chances of being able to photograph lightning increase and when done from a safe distance with advantageous perspective, you can create a scene that will literally be like no other. Whether shooting from the city or from a rural location, any environment is transformed into a visually dynamic scene when lightning is captured with it. However, since lightning strikes only last for fractions of a second, it can be quite challenging to catch.
To solve this problem, using a lightning trigger is a solution. A lightning trigger is a sensor that watches for strong flashes of light that are typically made by flashes of lightning. When the sensor detects a strong and abrupt change in light, it will trigger the camera into starting an exposure with a length depending on what was set on camera. This way, the photographer wouldn’t have to wait and chase after split-second flashes but instead shoot with significant efficiency.
The MIOPS Smart+ takes this function even further. Aside from being able to detect lightning flashes and automate the shooting process, it can also do so in long sequences. This means being able to capture hundreds of consecutive lightning flashes. This storm-lapse feature works like an intervalometer that only starts exposures when lightning happens. Whether the goal is to create heavily dramatic time-lapse videos or to put together multiple flashes of lightning in a single composite image, the lightning sensor and the storm-lapse function definitely makes the rain photography process much easier and much more efficient.
Blog Credit: Nicco Valenzuela
Nicco started his photographic journey in 2007 practicing the craft as a hobby. Currently, he shoots for various local and international architectural firms and construction companies. Out of his love for sharing his knowledge, Nicco began writing about photography and various pieces of gear.