Tips for Photographing in the Rain
By David Cobb
So what if it rains? This is the Pacific Northwest after all and rain is part of life here. I guess that’s why I have a plan B and C during my workshops, to take care of such eventualities. Last weekend was “Dave’s Worst-Weather-Ever Workshop” along the northern Oregon and southern Washington coastlines. The rain and wind storms were pretty bad. A lot of people thought the sun came with me for all my workshops, and I was getting pretty cocky after continually seeing the clouds part at the beginning of a session and close up when it ended. In lieu of staying indoors a bit more and concentrating on processing (which we did), here are a few photo tips for when it rains along the Oregon and Washington coastlines. (Canon and Nikon seal their cameras pretty well, other makers seal them tightly to not-so-much, so know how well your camera does before taking it out in the rain.)
1) Carry a good camera bag and rainfly: I have to admit I love the back access on the f-Stop camera bags during a rainstorm. I just set the bag down on the wet sandy beach, rainfly side down, and access all my equipment. When I put the pack back on my back, the muddy side is on the outside and the clean side is against my back. That way my rain jacket keeps me dry a lot longer. A good rainfly for your camera bag can be picked up at any outdoor store.
2) Use a rain cover for your camera: I often opt for the cheap grocery store plastic bag version with a hole cut in it, but there are a whole host of good camera rain covers out there. Simply Google “camera rain cover” and you’ll have a variety to choose from. They vary from the cheap homemade versions like mine to the bomb-proof Think-Tank Hydrophobia.
3) Find a sea cave: Sounds simple doesn’t it? The other day during a rain storm on the Oregon coast, I just wandered into a really cool cave and let my eyes adjust. Watch for the tides, but otherwise you can work for hours coming up with some interesting compositions while staying dry.
4) Bring an umbrella: An obvious point, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t bring an umbrella along while photographing.
5) Stay in your car and photograph abstracts through the soaked windshield: A couple of people did this during the last workshop at a harbor and they got some fantastic results. The last time I used this technique was from a taxi cab in Albania, and I wish I had remembered to do it for the harbor shots this time around.
6) Go to a bunker: There are World War II bunkers all over the coastline, and they really have quite a bit of character with their rusty doors, stark hallways, old ladders, and walls filled with moss and lichen. Best of all, they make a great wind break and are not only bomb-resistant, but rain-resistant too.
7) Point your lens downward: I use my lens hood not only for sun protection, but rain protection. During those dreary winter days, I’m less likely to look for the grand landscape and more likely to look for the small scene. I often start to think and see in black and white too. By keeping my lens pointing down, I keep it free from those pesky rain drops.
8) Go to the forest: The coastal forest is a great place to shoot on a rainy day. The trees block the wind, keep me drier, and the forest light can be amazing or moody.
9) Dry off your gear: I carry a facecloth in my bag and I’m constantly giving my camera a pat down and dry off. I make sure I do this at the end of the shoot when I put my camera away, and I do it again when I go back inside. I also extend my tripod legs when I return inside and give them a wipe-down too.
There you have it. The next time it rains, quit your whining and head for the coast – I’ll be there with a smile on my face and staying dry.
Tags: Camera Backpack, Cascadia, creative vision, David Cobb, digital photography, f-stop, forest photography ideas, forest photography techniques, landscape photography, Oregon, Oregon Coast, rain, staying dry, tips, Washington, water, waterfall, waterfalls