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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

How to Take Beautiful Photos in the Rain

2021-12-10

Rain combines many elements photographers usually don’t like, such as fast motion under weak light, muted colours, and humidity. But it’s also under the rain that the world starts to glisten and come to life. 

With most Canon cameras becoming weatherproof, creativity and skill have become the main limitation in capturing one of Mother Nature’s most mesmerising phenomena.
Here are some top tips you should keep in mind when shooting in the rain.

 

Experiment with Shutter Speed  

Shutter speed can play a big role in how rain will look in your final image. Rain falls at high speed, and the human eye often shows it as a quick white blur. But with enough light and high ISO, you can ramp up the shutter speed and get an image like this one:

EOS R6, RF100mm f/2.8L MACRO IS USM, f/5, ISO 2500, 1/8000s, 100mm​  

With shutter speeds at 1/8000 seconds, freezing drops with a quick shutter speed can create a striking image.

In contrast, a slower shutter speed like in the mushroom image below creates beautiful streaks of rain that can create a very different effect.

 

Think of Backlighting 

Rain is most visible when it is backlit or if the light is hitting it from an angle.

EOS 5D Mark IV, EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM, f/8, ISO 160, 10s, 70mm
By @gatot_herliyanto 

In this sample image - although the photographer used simulated rain - we can see how backlighting gave the water a beautiful glow. In addition, the slower shutter speed turned the visible droplets into streaks of light.  

You can also see how backlighting boosted the contrast between the subject and the background, which contributed to the overall success of the image.  

For really visible rain, find the right angle with a light source at the back or use a strategically-placed Speedlite.

 

Explore Higher ISOs

EOS M6, EF M18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM, f/7.1, ISO 500, 1/640s, 150mm
By @fiq0510

Rain comes from dense clouds that can block sunlight. When shooting rainy scenes, don’t feel too concerned about noise when you need to bump up your ISO speed.

The biggest consequence when using a higher ISO speed is often additional noise in the images. However, when shooting in the rain, this graininess can add an interesting layer of detail to images.

 

Manual Focus 

When shooting a scene, try manual focus. Rain creates a moving layer between your camera and the subject. This layer could make it hard for an AF system to get the focusing right.

If you notice it’s taking a bit longer for the camera to lock the focus or if you keep getting out-of-focus images, it’s probably because the focusing system isn’t working well under the rain. 

 

Save in RAW

While photographers must always try to shoot in RAW, this advice is even more important in the rain where lighting can be very challenging. Aside from having more data when tweaking brightness, saving in RAW preserves more information for you to colour correct as necessary.

EOS 6D Mark II, EF35mm f/1.4L II USM, f/1.4, ISO 800, 5.3s, 35mm
By @k3lvinch

Shooting under natural light during a rainy day can result in colours looking duller than in real life. That’s why some touch-ups could be very important for creating a great final image.

 

BONUS TIP: Watch out for reflections!

EOS 2000D, EF S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, f/11, ISO 200, 1/400s, 35mm
By @_kanishk_arora_
 

Water can turn many surfaces reflective, which can be an interesting thing to explore. Look around to see if there is an interesting composition that can be created with these temporary mirrors that appear during or immediately after a downpour.

 

By now, you should know a photo walk in the rain can be very different to shooting in dry weather conditions. While the rain isn’t as easy to walk in, there are also one-of-a-kind opportunities in it for great photos under the rain.

If you’re looking for a creative adventure, why not grab your camera when the skies turn grey.

 

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