[Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
1. Choose the Right Equipment for Rain Photography
Having the right equipment is the most crucial aspect of rain photography. You want to protect your camera body, lenses, and yourself.
You will need a waterproof camera case or a rain cover for your camera body. You might also need a weather-sealed lens or waterproof lens hoods. A water-resistant camera bag and lens cap are also essential when you take pictures with rain.
If the rain catches you without any of this particular equipment, have at least a plastic bag with you and wrap it around your gear.
Do not forget to pack waterproof clothing and a raincoat for yourself as well!
A tripod can come in handy too when you photograph on a rainy day. Some scenes look better with long exposures, and you need to keep your camera steady.
Moreover, rainy scenes look even better at night when all the lights are creating reflections. A tripod is a must-have item for these kinds of photos if you will not use any external flash or light.
2. Use Juxtaposition for Unique Compositions
One way to show great rain photography is to place a subject that would not usually find its place there. Mixing rain and fire, for example, makes for a powerful and symbolic shot.
3. Shoot the City Through a Rain-Covered Window
Cityscapes do not have to be picture-perfect. You do not always need a traditional correct exposure and usual composition. Here, you can use rain to your advantage in showing a different side of a city.
In this example, the city is in the background and out of focus. The rooftops and buildings are not sharp. Instead, the focus is on the water droplets.
Because of this close-up on the raindrops themselves, the city becomes an impression.
It’s a great way to show a place through shape, colour, and textures.
4. Create Portraits With Umbrellas
Umbrellas add shape, form, colour, texture, and size to a photo. On top of this, they add the metaphysical idea of protection.
Umbrellas are also great tools to add narrative to your rain photography. A couple protecting themselves from the rain and the outside world can convey a romantic mood.
They can also become a natural frame for your subject. You can have an umbrella blocking unattractive areas in your scene, for example. They can also work as very abstract elements in your photograph.
5. Add Texture to Macro Photos with Rain
Macro photography involves wide apertures. This means that the background will be completely out of focus. It might show colours, but the rain adds texture.
Grab your macro lens and try it out. You might even find that some of the subjects in your scene react differently to the bad weather.
6. Create Unusual Setups for Surprising Product Photography
Product photography is all about real situations over those that feel too set up.
Using rain brings powerful ideas and connotations to your products.
Rain and splashing water are perfect for a realistic, atmospheric setting. Make sure to use a shutter speed that lets you capture and freeze the motion of the waterdrops.
7. Capture Reflections
Rainfall that collects on sidewalks, streets, and roads creates beautiful reflections.
The great thing about reflections is that you get to show two different sides of the same area. You get the texture in the foreground. Buildings, shapes, and forms hang out in the background.
Changing your perspective has a significant effect on your photography. Try photographing reflections from an upside-down perspective.
Rain is the perfect setting for a top-down shot. Reflections in puddles will make the world look upside down. In this way, water functions as a mirror and creates a collage-like effect. You get two pictures in one.
8. Freeze Raindrops
Rain moves so fast, it often appears as slight blurs in the shot—these dashes of light and texture act as secondary subjects. But if you change your shutter speed, you can make them more important.
Long shutter speed allows you to create motion blur. By using a fast shutter speed, you can freeze any movement.
Keep in mind that shooting in the rain causes less intense lighting conditions. Do not forget to raise the ISO or set a wider aperture for correct exposure and a dramatic shot.
Falling rain becomes heavier, almost glass-like, with a defined shape and form.
9. Shoot in the Rain for Unique Wedding Photography
Take advantage of the romantic nature of rain for some sweet moments that your clients will not forget anytime soon. Do not forget to prepare with appropriate clothing, an umbrella, and gear protection.
10. Fire a Flash to Highlight Shape
A flash is a handy device to have in any photographic situation. And you might need some extra light with all the clouds and umbrellas everywhere.
Flashes can also help you freeze movement. Without a flash, falling rain is hardly noticeable. With one, you can make the raindrops stand out as the light reflects back towards the camera. That is why you do not want to use a diffuser on your flash.
By firing a flash, the shape and form of the raindrops become obvious instead of vanishing into obscurity.
11. Use Rainy Scenes For Creative Abstract Photography
Nothing screams abstract more than rain. We kind of know what we are looking at, but not really.
Try photographing traffic lights through the raindrops on your car window. See what crazy interesting shapes you come up with.
You can place the focus anywhere. By using a wide aperture, you allow bokeh creation in the background.
You can even try to do long exposures with Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) and see what surreal results you get.
12. Use Condensation for Soft Focus
If the weather is wet and cold outside, you can guarantee the temperature is warm inside. This brings condensation to anything glass-covered.
This makes street photography more interesting. Now you have a milky scene of mystery in your shot.
You may get a soft focus on your subjects, and you might keep their identity hidden. You can get amazing results in shape, form, and colour. In this case, choose your autofocus settings wisely or use manual focus with focus peaking.
13. Include Dark Clouds for Mood
Rain can have a moody effect on your image. It will depend on the colours, textures, lighting, and angle of your scene.
Not all rain clouds are dark, but the ones that are, make you feel like the apocalypse is on the horizon.
Use this idea to your advantage. Look for areas in your scene that can affect your shot in emphasising the moodiness.
Include people. Their reactions can also impact the weight of the weather and oncoming rain.
14. Incorporate Shapes and Forms for Unusual Composition
Shapes and forms are two of the simplest yet most important composition tools. Like abstract rain photography, you do not need to show the rain as factual.
Looking at the scene in a different light or from a different perspective can turn into something creative.
Get closer to the raindrops to change the idea around them. Get them to fill more of the frame, and you will find that they will provide you with interesting shapes and forms. Using a macro lens, you can even capture the reflections inside them.
15. Chase That Storm
If you see adverse weather coming your way, do not avoid it. Too many photographers prefer to stay indoors. However, extreme weather provides a wealth of photographic opportunities.
Dark clouds add moodiness and rain adds nostalgia. Together, they make for some striking images. You can also photograph lightning to add more drama to your images.
Next time there is a downpour, do not hide indoors with your camera. Grab it and have some fun in the rain.
Don’t forget to keep your camera dry. Bring your lens hood, a rain cover for your camera gear and camera bag (a plastic bag works in a pinch!), and a good storm jacket.
Use the 15 ideas from our article to get stunning rain photography.
Check out our brand new Shooting Skies course, for even more tips on catching those ominous rain clouds!
Want More? Try Our Lightroom Processing Course
Do you know how to use Lightroom to bring out the details hidden inside your images?
Lightroom is a great program, but with countless sliders and tools… it’s hard to know how (and when) to use each of them.
That’s why we’ve created the most complete and up-to-date training on Lightroom.