How to photograph rain?

Started Oct 27, 2009 | Discussions
Mark S Abeln
Mark S Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 18,981
How to photograph rain?

Rainy days are often not so good for my style of photography, but sometimes I don't have a choice.

Now rain rarely ever shows up in my photos, for whatever reason. The rain will make the image lose contrast at best.

However, does anyone know of a lighting technique that would really show off the rain? I would guess some sort of off-camera light source could do the trick, if the shutter speed is set property. A flash would have far too short of a time duration to show off rainy streaks.

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Palsoft Regular Member • Posts: 150
Re: How to photograph rain?

With a D3 that is not a problem I have some with water droplets in them. You could try a flash with a gel to bring out the droplets just my two cents worth.

Yehuda Katz Forum Pro • Posts: 25,916
Try flash WITH relatively long exposure.

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Rainy days are often not so good for my style of photography, but sometimes I don't have a choice.

Now rain rarely ever shows up in my photos, for whatever reason. The rain will make the image lose contrast at best.

However, does anyone know of a lighting technique that would really show off the rain? I would guess some sort of off-camera light source could do the trick, if the shutter speed is set property. A flash would have far too short of a time duration to show off rainy streaks.

jokunen Forum Member • Posts: 65
Re: How to photograph rain?

Interesting idea.

Usually rain does not show in available light photos because there is not much sunlight when it rains so you have large aperture and/or slow shutter and the rain is out of focus or too fast.

Also the light on cloudy day is so soft that the raindrops are low contrast and that further helps to hide them in the photo.

I would try a continuous light like a halogen slightly behind the subject. Because the light is hard you get the contrast in the raindrops even if there is not that much power. Backlit rain looks cool and you don't mess up the subject lighting so easily that way.

Another thing to try would be a cheap monoblock light on low power. Cheap lights tend to have long flash duration so you may be able to get enough streaks showing.

Now the problem is of course is setting up the mains powered lights in the rain.

(unknown member) Forum Pro • Posts: 14,338
Re: How to photograph rain?

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

However, does anyone know of a lighting technique that would really show off the rain? I would guess some sort of off-camera light source could do the trick, if the shutter speed is set property. A flash would have far too short of a time duration to show off rainy streaks.

Light from the side. Shutter at 1/60 will generally produce pleasing streaks.

Stephen Christie
Stephen Christie Senior Member • Posts: 1,614
Re: How to photograph rain?

Flash or constant light from the side and below pointing in between you and the model, not at the model. It is similar to how a background light is used in the studio to light up the backdrop. But it is in the foreground and lighting from the ground onto the water drop bottom will illuminate the largest and best part of the water drop.

Shutter speed may vary but should not be too hard to try a few between 1/30 and 1/100 to get some good results.
Using a tripods will keep the drops in a straight line.

-Steve

malch wrote:

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

However, does anyone know of a lighting technique that would really show off the rain? I would guess some sort of off-camera light source could do the trick, if the shutter speed is set property. A flash would have far too short of a time duration to show off rainy streaks.

Light from the side. Shutter at 1/60 will generally produce pleasing streaks.

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Fantasy Photo Senior Member • Posts: 1,398
Photographing Snow

Yes, I know you asked about photographing rain, but the technique I use for snow probably will work with rain as well. It involves controlling how prominent the snow flakes are in the final image. If you shoot in a snowstorm with nothing protecting your camera, then a lot of the snowflakes will be very close to the lens and will show up in the image as large prominent snowflakes. If, on the other hand, you shoot with an umbrella over the camera, or shoot from inside of a car, or shoot from inside of a building or other structure that puts some type of shelter over the camera, then no snowflakes will be very close to the lens and any snowflakes in the image will appear rather small. I've only used this technique for controlling the size of snowflakes, but I would think you could use the same method for contolling how raindrops will appear in your final image. Regarding the lighting of raindrops, I would think that backlighting would work well, but I've never tried that.
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Mark S Abeln
OP Mark S Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 18,981
Will experiment

As it has been raining all day, I think that I'll go out and do some experiments. If any turn out, I'll post here.

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DRode
DRode Senior Member • Posts: 2,815
Re: How to photograph rain?

I've never tried to photograph rain but I would treat it much like glass. You need to light the edges if the background is dark and darken the edges if the background is light.

For a first attempt, I'd light them from the side and slightly back from the area where I wished to have the drops most defined.

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Joe Peoples Senior Member • Posts: 2,437
Rain needs to be backlit

Joe Peoples writes:

Part of being a photographer is to be observant. Look toward the street lights, at night, and how different the rain appears when the light illuminates the drops from the back . It's the same situation with water coming out of a shower head. Position yourself with the shower head in the middle and sunlight streaming through the window and look at the difference between the drops illuminated by the sunlight and those not in contact with the light.

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Rainy days are often not so good for my style of photography, but sometimes I don't have a choice.

Now rain rarely ever shows up in my photos, for whatever reason. The rain will make the image lose contrast at best.

However, does anyone know of a lighting technique that would really show off the rain? I would guess some sort of off-camera light source could do the trick, if the shutter speed is set property. A flash would have far too short of a time duration to show off rainy streaks.

Mark S Abeln
OP Mark S Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 18,981
Re: Rain needs to be backlit

I was out the other evening taking photos in the rain; the only place where this rain was visible was around the streetlights.

The most interesting part of this experiment in the rain was the color of the dusk skies, as well as the highly saturated lights reflecting off of the wet pavement.

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Larry Berman
Larry Berman Veteran Member • Posts: 3,857
Re: How to photograph rain?

Here's a great gallery of photos taken in the rain:
http://billsosin.visualserver.com/

Mark Scott Abeln wrote:

Rainy days are often not so good for my style of photography, but sometimes I don't have a choice.

Now rain rarely ever shows up in my photos, for whatever reason. The rain will make the image lose contrast at best.

However, does anyone know of a lighting technique that would really show off the rain? I would guess some sort of off-camera light source could do the trick, if the shutter speed is set property. A flash would have far too short of a time duration to show off rainy streaks.

-- hide signature --
Wallysmo Junior Member • Posts: 44
Re: How to photograph rain?

I think that constant lighting is likely best to show the rain motion/ no flash

here is an example of a night football game under lights

Canon 135mm f2 + 1.4X extender + Rebel XT 1.6X = 302 mm I think the shutter speed was around 1/500 but if using a lower mm lens you would have to slow down the shot to get more movement.

http://www.walterj.exposuremanager.com/p/2006-23-sept_wmu_vs_temple_/img_448454

Raghu R Senior Member • Posts: 1,356
Re: How to photograph rain?

Shot with a simple p & s cam

'The Photographer reveals the light;the light reveals the picture'--C.Rajagopal.
A picture should communicate with our heart.
Efzee-50 & Foojee F 31fd---Polaroid X-530

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austinnyc Contributing Member • Posts: 678
Re: How to photograph rain?

shutter speed and light are the key to every images. Make sure its slow enough to capture the movement of the rain and the flash should stop the action.
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