The secret to photographing rain is that you can’t for the most part. Raindrops are tiny, fast and transparent. In the movies they add milk to water to create rain effects. Unless you have a 10,000 gallon tanker to make that happen your best bet is to try one of the two options on a rainy day.
Option 1: Show the Effects of Rain
Rather than trying to capture raindrops in mid-air show pictures of raindrops hitting a puddle, window or rolling down a leaf. You can also focus on people in the rain, their reactions, body language, etc…
Option 2: Illuminate the Rain
Rain may be colorless and formless, but it is reflective. Using artificial light to illuminate the rain or taking advantage of those rare sunny/rainy days are your next best options. Rain moves fast so you will want to put your camera in Shutter Priority (S or Tv) mode or Manual (M) mode and set it as high as you can. Some cameras maximum shutter speed with flash is 1/125 or 1/250 – both of which are a little slow for the job. Headlights or another bright constant source of light that would allow speeds of 1/500 or higher would be ideal.
*Obviously, electronics and water DO NOT MIX well together so make sure what you are using is safe.
Hopefully these tips will help you find something to shoot on the next rainy day! If you’d like to learn more ways to use artificial lighting to your advantage sign up for our Principals of Lighting class!
Written by Trevor Warren