RAINY DAY PHOTOGRAPHY
Spring offers many of the best choices for outdoor photography, whether it is landscape, wildlife or macro. The climate is warmer, days are longer, and nature’s alive with color and activity. The main factor that can spoil an adventure out with the camera is spring rain. We tend to receive more precipitation during the spring season because of the changing weather patterns. In the Northern Hemisphere the weather becomes unstable when warm air flows over landmasses where the air has been cooled from the Polar Regions. This may produce moisture in the form of rain or fog. The jet stream in spring also plays a significant role in the weather, giving us severe, unstable patterns. It is formed when air masses of different temperatures meet, and the greater difference in temperature, the faster the wind velocity inside the jet stream.
Where I live, in the Great Basin Desert of the United States, spring rain can create favorable conditions, which add drama and excitement to a photograph. Rich vibrant colors are muted and contrast is made softer, giving a calm or moody feeling to the landscape. Reflections in pools of water or raindrops create mirror images that add interest to the scene.
Clouds will always enhance a photograph by giving detail to a solid gray sky
or adding patterns to a plain blue sky.
or adding patterns to a plain blue sky.
I’m a fan of rainy weather, so when the clouds move in, I pack up my gear and head out. My major concern in rainy day photography is keeping myself and my equipment dry. I use a waterproof jacket that is large enough to wear it over my camera. If I get wet, I’ll eventually dry; however water is detrimental to cameras. A waterproof backpack cover keeps my camera bag dry from the falling rain and wet surfaces when I set it down to change equipment. A small water absorbent towel tucked in my jacket pocket is handy to wipe away excess moisture. To protect my camera and keep it dry, I use the plastic elastic kitchen lid covers that come in different sizes, and are usually found in the “food storage bag” section of the store. The cover fits snuggly over my camera and if needed, I can poke a hole for the lens to extend through. Shower caps will also work, but they aren’t available in different sizes or as flexible. A lens filter helps to keep out moisture and protects the glass.
The techniques for shooting on rainy days are similar to clear weather photography, with one exception, and that is shutter speed settings. To catch the raindrops in a scene, the shutter speed should be faster than 1/60 a second. At slower speeds, they will either blur or not show up at all.
Out here in the southwestern United States, one moment it is overcast diffused lighting, and then the sky opens with a brilliance of colors. If you happen to be standing with your back to the sun when there is falling rain, you might be rewarded with an elusive rainbow. Rainbows occur when the sun shines in the direction of the raindrops, thereby illuminating them. Since the rainbow will only form opposite the sun, a tip on where to look for one is in the direction of the shadow of your head. In order to see a rainbow, the sunlight must be at angle, less than 42 degrees. When the sun is overhead, the rainbow will form below the horizon and will not be visible to the human eye.
I don’t shoot rainbows any differently than other landscape scenes. With landscapes, I will have the aperture set between f/8 and f/11 for best depth of field. The shutter speed will depend on the available light, and I usually meter toward the sky and away from the dark foreground. In most cases, a wide-angle lens is needed to frame the dome of the rainbow. On all of my rainbow scenes, I have used a Nikon 24mm 2.8 lens. I have also found that polarizing lenses are not needed to bring out the colors. Most of my lenses have sky filters on them and I do not want to expose the lens to the precipitation by changing it.
A gentle rain can enhance the scene with nature’s special effects, but when thunder cells move in, beware. Photographing thunderstorms is very exciting and one of my favorite subjects. I will cover the details on this topic at a later post.
What an exciting and interesting photo-adventure this day has been. I love it when I am drawn to an area and not knowing what to expect I get treated to new experiences.
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Photography places me in the moment where I can share that moment in time. It becomes a life story as represented by my interaction with the scene. The happiness and beauty or the sorrow and strife; how I focus leaves a lasting impression that might touch the viewer on a spiritual level.
"Reflecting Nature's Artistry"
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