What to Photograph on a Rainy Day
April is nearly upon us and if you take heed of the first half of an old expression April showers (bring May flowers), then you can expect it to get a bit rainy. But don't just take my word for it, the UK met office are saying that April looks set to be a “changeable” (=showers!) month, so what can you photograph when it's raining?
As it is not going to be all that stormy it doesn't seem likely that there will be any dramatic skies to capture in any grand vistas, so when weather like this closes in I like to head for the trees and doba little woodland photography. The grey flat light that comes with drizzle is perfect for softening the light in a woodland meaning that the usual high contrast produced by harsh sunlight and deep shadow is islattened and much more achievable to capture when it comes to your camera's dynamic range. Plus, being under the canopy of trees can help keep the elements off you a little more than standing on an exposed hillside. So what can you photograph when you get there?
Water drops and reflections
With rain comes puddles and with puddles come reflections. You can create some really effective and abstract images when photographing the reflection of a tree, the woodland canopy in a puddle. You can also use the edges of smaller puddles to create a frame of leaves, or whatever the forest floor is made up of. To gain a sharp image of the tree itself it is important to ensure you are focussed on the tree in the reflection rather than the surface of the water, although you could potentially get some creative results by doing the opposite. However, using a shallow depth of field and focussing on the reflection will make your frame softer and less distracting.
These were the choices I made with this image, I also had a relatively slow shutter speed which captured movement in the drops of rain hitting the surface of the puddle which has given an abstract distorted effect, which I quite liked.
Using this idea you could also attempt to capture the attempt to capture rain drops in the puddle perhaps using the reflection as more of a backdrop. To capture rain mid drip the more it is raining the better, as you have more chances of capturing one. Set your shutter speed to anything above 1/250 of a second, and the capture rate to high speed continuous (or equivalent), and lock your camera off on a tripod with a cable release, not essential, but it is so you can stand back and snap away. Focus on the surface of the water and start snapping. Let a few bursts off and review the images you've captured to see if you have anything.
Water drops on the branches
During and immediately after rain, the raindrops hang off the branches of trees which then catch the light and glisten like thousands of pearls which can add a really interesting dimension to otherwise ordinary scenes. It does a great job of giving some small but strong points of contrast which can help highlight your subject.
I would encourage you not to be put off by the rain, whilst it can be inconvenient, it does offer some unique opportunities for images that you otherwise might not have imagined. As long as you're dry and warm and your camera gear is weather sealed, or sufficiently protected, you can shoot all day due to to the diffused light from cloud cover, so next time it's raining grab you camera and head to the woods!
Equip yourself for some rainy day photography.
If your camera and lenses aren't weather sealed there are several cheap camera rain covers available, but a plastic bag will do a perfectly good job.
If you're going to be out in the rain for several hours be sure to have a waterproof jacket and over trousers so you stay dry and warm, and a pair of wellies or waterproof boots will make sure your feet stay dry and comfortable.
See me out capturing these images on my YouTube Channel