Photography – Shooting in the Rain

Rain Photography Tips by Heather Angel

As raindrops fall onto a non-wettable lotus lily leaf, they are channelled into distinct lines along the dips in the leaf.

This post was inspired by a recent photo workshop I ran at Kew Gardens when it rained for much of the time. After I pointed out raindrops hanging from the umbel of large Aralia flowers, all the group were inspired to look at subjects in a new way. Several people admitted as we wrapped up, they were amazed how much they found to photograph in weather they would normally not bother to their camera out of a photo pack.

So, if you are a fair weather photographer, hopefully the rain photography tips may convert you to consider bringing out a camera (with adequate protection) in light rain. Then it is perfectly safe and you can get more original shots of the natural world than remaining a fine weather photographer. There is always a small towel stashed into my photo pack, for mopping up any surplus water on the camera.

How to protect a camera in rain

A thick plastic bag (check no safety holes present) slipped over the back of the camera is secured around the lens with a rubber band – making sure not to restrict an external focusing ring, if there is one. Useful in light rain and possible to cut hole in base to secure a tripod.

Two ways to protect the camera. Left: in light rain, a hat umbrella is useful for working on the hoof with a short lens or a macro lens – here the 70-180mm Micro- Nikkor. Right: An umbrella held over a camera on a tripod in heavy rain.

Use a waterproof rain cover to protect the camera with a long lens in heavy rain falling at any angle. Be sure to get one that fixes securely so it does not flap around (will scare animals and let in rain). Available from

Left: Rain enriches natural colours of lacebark pine bark to produce a more vibrant image.
Right: Same tree (different crop) in dry weather.

Raindrops provide several options – most simply, straightforward shots of rain on petals, leaves or feathers. Whereas, drops captured on spiders’ webs on hairy stems or caterpillars viewed against a dark backdrop can appear to sparkle like jewels.

A Laysan albatross chick hunkered down during rain on Midway Atoll.


Raindrops caught on hairy stem and sepals of red poppywort, Meconopsis punicea, Sichuan, China.

Use raindrops as natural miniature fisheye lenses. You will need a macro lens with a magnification of at least life size, better still,  get in even closer by adding an extension tube. Then you will see how the drops encapsulate a flower close behind them, a tree or a building further away.

These raindrops each reveal an inverted image of Kew Palace.

After rain stops, mammals twist their head back and forth to remove surplus water. Try a slow shutter speed to streak the water radiating from the body. Any animal that emerges from water – including bears, otters, monkeys and dogs – do this. Because it is all over very quickly, you need to anticipate the shot by selecting continuous motor drive.

I waited 30 minutes for this lion to rotate its head to remove surplus water after heavy rain fell in Botswana.

Why not give it a try? You will surely take some exciting and more original images than is possible on a sunny day.

© Heather Angel 2013


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