The art of rain photography Tips & tricks for taking photos in the rain


Rain photography

Although we might think rainy weather is dreary and drab, rain is the perfect way to add emotion, drama, a sense of motion, texture, and even excitement into a photograph. That being said, rain photography can be a challenge; especially when you aren’t expecting wet weather. You have to take into account exposing your image in inconvenient lighting conditions, unsaturated colours, dull skies, and of course, protecting your gear from the water. 

However, rain photography is an exciting endeavour whether you’re shooting night rain photography, rain photography for a couple or even family photos in the rain. As the adage says – life is about learning to dance in the rain – or for a photographer, learning to photograph in the rain. Rain photographers know that learning to shoot in rainy weather will make you a better photographer as you have to learn to adapt to the situation, and also flex your creative muscles to craft a photo that interestingly incorporates the rain. 

If you’re curious about how to take rain photos, read on! In this post we will be discussing:

    • Rain photography gear
    • Settings for rain photography
    • How to take rain photos using a phone
    • Rain photography ideas


Art of rain photography


Rain photography gear

    • A camera that works well in low-light conditions: As rain typically comes with dark and gloomy skies, you will need a camera that has a wide dynamic range to handle photography in low-light. The ideal camera for rain photography will have a high ISO setting to cope with poor lighting. These tend to be full-frame cameras.
    • Rain cover: You will want to keep your camera safe from water. You can buy waterproof rain covers for cameras, which are perfect for rain photography – but you can get creative and use a DIY plastic bag solution to keep your camera dry if you’re on a budget. You can also buy waterproof lens covers to keep your lens safe. 
    • A raincoat: Don’t forget about keeping yourself dry, too.
    • A tripod: A tripod is very beneficial to rain photography. If you want to shoot a long exposure photo to create a sense of moving water, you will need to decrease your shutter timing, and if shooting freehand your images will be blurry – but using a tripod offers you stability. But even when using very fast shutter speeds, using a tripod to stabilise your camera is very useful. 
    • A prime lens: A prime lens is optional, but you may find it beneficial for rain photography. The fixed focal length and wide aperture help to capture the detail of the rain, and help to create images of a sharper quality.
    • A flash: You can use your camera’s automatic flash, or bring an external flash to help light up the scene.
    • A reflector: A reflector is useful when shooting in the rain, to help maximise your light sources.


Settings for rain photography

Here’s all the technical advice for rain photography.

Shutter speed

Rain photography looks amazing when you freeze the action and capture a freeze-frame of the falling raindrops in perfect detail. To do this, you will need a fast shutter speed. Start at a shutter speed of 1/125 or higher to freeze the motion of the raindrops, and then experiment. You can use a slower shutter to create the impression of a waterfall motion, but try not to use too slow a shutter speed, because you can lose your focal point. And remember – every rainfall is different – so what works for one will not necessarily work for another.

Wide aperture

To support a fast shutter speed, you need a wide aperture to allow enough light into the camera. However, choosing the shutter speed and aperture values that complement each other is a balancing act. For portrait photography in the rain, you will likely want a shallower depth of field to keep your subjects in focus. For landscape and cityscape photography in the rain, you will want a larger depth of field to capture background detail; which means a smaller aperture.

Finding the right aperture will require a bit of experimentation; f/8 is a good starting place, and adjust accordingly to the depth of field you think looks best. Many rain photographers also try bracketing to achieve the right exposure. As aforementioned, a prime lens can also be beneficial.

High ISO

Take ‘high ISO’ with a pinch of salt – this just means higher than usual. The ISO value will vary depending on how dark your scene is. Use a medium to high ISO value to help your camera to capture enough details in the low-light conditions.

Manual focus

Using manual focus is advantageous to you during rain photography, as it allows you to select the most significant part of the scene to focus on and control the exposure. Raindrops are notorious for getting the unwanted attention of your camera’s autofocus sensor! 


How to take rain photos using a phone

Taking rain photos is difficult on mobiles, as the cameras aren’t great for shooting in low light. However, there are some mobile phones with excellent cameras, which make rain photography a breeze. 

The iPhone cameras are particularly good and offer the opportunity to shoot in ‘night mode’ i.e. a mode designed for dark scenes.  The night mode works by shooting a bracket of exposures and automatically merges them to create a photo with the best lighting possible. The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max has large sensors which are optimal for shooting in dim light, and it also has a sensor-shift OIS to help stabilise images.

In terms of Android phones with good cameras for rain photography, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is considered the best. It also has a large sensor, OIS stabilisation, and night mode for shooting in dim lighting. On the S21 Ultra, you can also shoot in RAW which is great as you can manipulate your rain photos more easily after.


Photographing rain


Rain photography ideas

Here are some ideas to spark your creativity for rain photography.


With portrait photography, it can be difficult to focus on the rain clearly, as well as your subjects using front lighting. Backlighting looks great as it casts a scenic glow on your subjects as well as ensuring that the rain can be seen more clearly. It looks particularly dreamy for couples’ photography.

Shoot a cityscape scene through a window

Shooting through a window is an unconventional, yet interesting form of rain photography. Rather than focusing on the falling rain, you are focusing on the rain droplets on the windowpane. The cityscape in the background will be out of focus, creating a unique photo where the raindrops are the star of the show. Shooting a cityscape scene through a window looks great during both day and night-time because if it is dark the urban lights will light up the scene.

Black and white photography

Rain is the perfect context for a dramatic scene. Shooting in black and white will suit your rain photography perfectly, helping to capitalise on the dramatic mood. 

Macro photography

Macro photography is extreme close-up photography. Using a macro lens, you can take a subject like a flower, and take a close-up image of it, making it look larger than life and beautifully detailed. Taking a picture of this flower (or another subject) in the rain will look wonderful, as the rain falls in the background, and the water droplets on the flower petals will look magnified. 

We hope you enjoyed reading our post on the art of rain photography!

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