6 min read

14 Expert Rain Photography Tips

6 min read

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Rain Photography Tips

Rain Photography

On a rainy day, the last things you want to do is walk outdoors and start taking photos. But you may want to reconsider because rain is a wonder gift for photographers. The rain brings countless creative opportunities (both indoors and outdoors). With rain photography, there is no such thing as bad weather, just small challenges.

Shooting in bad weather provides incredible opportunities for taking memorable and artistic photographs. The rain may cause most photographers to panic and some would prefer to wait for fair weather before venturing outdoors. Depending on where you live, rain can change the entire look your town or city. It can make the most average scenes look dramatic, a bit mysterious, and magical. However, a clever photographer can make photographs in the rain look unique and elegant.

Rain Photography Tips - Sky

Here are some tips to help you get some stand-out shots in the rain.

Stay Dry and Protect Your Gear

One of the first things you want to try to avoid is getting wet, or even worse, getting your gear wet. You can’t take great photos if you’re cold, wet, and miserable. So be sure to bring a raincoat, waterproof your boots, bring some gloves it’s if it’s cold, and anything else you need to stay dry and comfortable.

It goes without saying the first thing you need to do before heading outdoors is to be sure you’re prepared to work in wet weather. So pack up your umbrella, bring plenty of towels, lens cleaner, plastic bags, and anything else you need to protect your gear. If you’re going to be shooting outdoors while it’s raining, see if you can bring a friend to hold an umbrella for you.

Bring the Right Gear

Before you venture out into the great outdoors, be sure you have all of the gear you’re going to need. You may want to bring a tripod, a few lenses (including wide-angle and zoom). Also be sure to bring a lens hood to keep water off your lens.

If you plan on shooting in the rain frequently, buy camera raincoats or plastic covers that are made custom to fit over your camera and lens. Another thing to consider is moisture absorbent silica gel packs. These packs can be used in your camera bag or in a plastic bag to prevent condensation in your gear.

Check the Forecast

Rainy days can be very unpredictable. Before you head out in the rain, be sure to check the forecast. Working in a violent thunderstorm with rain and high winds is very difficult, so you may want to hang out at Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee , or your favorite cafe and wait until the storm calms down. Violent storms usually don’t last for too long, so you may want to position yourself in the right location while you’re waiting for the weather to improve.

Photographing Raindrops

Getting actual raindrops to show up in your pictures is challenging. Raindrops are visible if they are backlit. If you’re lucky to capture falling raindrops they can be quite dramatic. In all likelihood, you will be able to capture reflections, puddles, dramatic skies, vehicles, and people.


One of the main things you want to look for on a rainy day is interesting light. If you’re shooting in the day and the storm breaks, you may get lucky with both rain and sunshine simultaneously. If you’re shooting in the evening, lights from passing cars and trucks, buildings, illuminated landmarks, street lights, and city lights can make for dramatic photographs.


Rain Photography Tips - Reflections

One of the greatest gifts a photographer has when shooting on a rainy day are reflections. You might think photographs of reflections on a rainy day may turn out grey and dull. However the reflected colors of lights store windows and street lights can make your images pop. If you’re in town or a city, look for restaurants and cafes with empty outdoor seating drenched by the rain.

Puddles and Street Flooding

Rain Photography Tips - Puddles and Street Flooding

You may want to capture vehicles driving through flooded streets while they spray water. Of course be sure to use a longer lens and stayed a safe distance to avoid getting wet. Look for puddles with fallen leaves and debris. If you don’t have a zoom lens, bend down and get close. Try shooting from different angles to get a unique perspective.

Look to the Sky

Rain Photography Tips - Look to the sky

Why you’re out shooting in the rain keep an eye on the sky.  a sudden break in the clouds in the distance or beam of light shining down behind the rain can make for an intense photograph. Sunlight shining through the back of falling rain can give you a surreal  look. Keep your eyes open for dramatic cloud formations.  clouds after a rainstorm can be bathed in warm colors.


Rain Photography Tips - People

A rainy day can be a fun day for children who love to splashing puddles, stick their tongues out to capture raindrops, or just watch the storm outdoors safe under a colorful umbrella. Adults wrapped up in there rain gear and colorful scarves and umbrellas can make for interesting subjects. A dark silhouette taken at night of people walking through the rain can be breathtaking.

Look for opportunities with people out in the rain. You may be able to capture a colorful umbrella, people running for cover, children in colorful raincoats, and people soaking wet without umbrellas or raincoats. You make capture couples sharing an umbrella and walking arm-in-arm.

Night Photography

Rain Photography Tips - Night Photography

You’ll be surprised of the transformation that takes place in the evening falling a rainstorm. The wet pavement, flooded parking lots and damp sidewalks reflect colors of store signs and bright LED lights. Urban cities filled with rush hour traffic in the middle of a rainstorm Shooting through a rain soaked window would look totally awesome.

High Contrast

Rain Photography Tips - High Contrast

The contrast of sunlight and darkness under the clouds can be stunning. One of the many gifts photographers receive on a rainy day he is the mixture of elements that include darkness, rainfall, and color. For example a colorful umbrella on a dark  gloomy street can produce a profound picture. Clouds filter out blue and ultraviolet rays during the day, making colors more vivid. A dramatic climate with dark stormy skies create contrast and depth that is difficult to a obtain on a clear and sunny day.

Shutter Speed

Falling rain travels at the speed of about 20 miles per hour (9 meters per second), so you’ll need to adjust your shutter speed accordingly. The detail of a falling raindrop can hardly be seen with the naked eye unless you have a dark or colored background to highlight them. So try shooting with a background that will make the drops visible.

If you want to capture falling raindrops and freeze the droplets in your image, use a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 sec. Use a slower shutter speed of 1/60 sec to capture the movement of falling rain. A slower shutter speed will produce some nice long streaks.


Rain Photography Tips - macro

Try using Aperture Priority so you can control the depth-of-field in your your photos. It’s best to use a larger aperture (around f/2.8 – f/4) when shooting in the rain. If the option is available on your camera, switch to Macro mode to get amazing close-up shots in the rain such as capturing rain drops on leaves.

Rain Photography Ideas

  • Indoor Photos Against Rain Soaked Windows
  • Overflowing water from the edge of a roof
  • Children splashing in puddles
  • Close-up of beaded raindrops on the hood of car
  • A couple embracing under an umbrella
  • Raindrops splashing in a pool of water

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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