You’ve heard this before.
“When it starts to rain, good photographers head out to make pictures.”–Jim Richardson, National Geographic
This saying may seem a bit cliché, but this really rings true. That’s because rain, even in all its potential yuckiness and regardless of its less-than-flattering effects on hair, can actually enhance a photo. Rain can add dimension to an image as it brings a wonderful sense of moodiness and drama to a scene. And the puddles and the general wetness of a rainy day means that light will be reflected off all sorts of different surfaces and in unique and exciting ways.
In other words, rain can make the familiar new and interesting.
So don’t let rainy weather stop you from heading out to take photos. But be sure to come prepared. Because, while rain can be a great photographic element, wet weather can also wreck havoc on electronic equipment.
That said, here are some tips for keeping your gear safe on rainy days.
Protect your Gear in Transport
Protecting your gear from the rain starts before you set up your first shot. So it’s important that you carry your equipment in a bag that can fend off the wet elements.
Consider one of the many camera bags on the market that come equipped with a rain cover. This is an especially handy setup since the cover is always with you—there’s a designated pocket for storage—and it’s specifically designed for the dimensions of the bag, so the fit is good.
Personally, I like any of the bags from Lowepro’s All-Weather series. The rain cover mechanism on these bags is built in and really handy and you can access your photography gear even with the cover on.
Check out the video below to see what I mean.
You can also purchase a rain cover separately if your bag doesn’t come with one. Many bag manufacturers sell coordinating rain covers. If there isn’t one available for your particular bag, lots of generic covers can be found online or through your local camera shop.
When all else fails, tuck your camera bag inside a suitably sized plastic bag. It does the job and you can’t beat the price.
Use an Umbrella
For many of us, an umbrella is our go-to accessory for protection from the elements on rainy days. An umbrella can do the same for your camera and photographic gear.
That said, though, there’s no denying that holding an umbrella while shooting can be a bit of a hassle. But it can work when you’re shooting on a tripod. In that case, you can go one step further and get a clamp to attach an umbrella onto your tripod so that you can work hands-free.
There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind with this setup.
It’s important to use an umbrella that large enough to cover your equipment from front to back, lens and all.
Umbrellas, by the nature of their shape, are notorious for catching even the slightest breeze. And that can mean your equipment could go tumbling if the wind kicks up. So if it is at all windy, be sure to weigh your tripod down or even consider skipping the umbrella altogether and look for other options.
Be aware of lighting issues if you are using an umbrella while photographing something close to you. In that case, the umbrellas can often at least partially block light from your subject, darkening the scene that you are photographing. Also, a colored umbrella may add a tinted cast to the scene lighting. Using a white or very light colored umbrella can help with both of these issues.