In the Rain

General Thoughts
Forest in Fog — Ramapo State Forest, NJ  © jj raia

Forest in Fog — Ramapo State Forest, NJ © jj raia

There is something about rain that generally keeps many photographers indoors when opportunities still exist that otherwise would be missed. Many years ago, I added a piece of inexpensive gear that allowed me to keep shooting in the rain so long as the wind wasn’t howling. I bought an umbrella holder. Umbrella-7Generally sold in golf stores, it allows the avid golfer to play while keeping the rain off the clubs. I believe they also sell very dark golf balls for play in the snow. But the idea transcends various sports, to allow us to continue to enjoy our hobby/profession of choice during inclement weather. It mounts to one of the tripod legs and has an angle adjustable tube that the umbrella sits in and is secured with a screw. The umbrella opens up to cover the immediate area where your camera is mounted and you can place a camera bag on the ground below (preferably on a piece of plastic) and keep the raindrops off it as well. When you’re ready to move on to another location, no need to take the camera off the mount, just use another plastic bag secured with a small bungee cord to protect it and throw the tripod over your shoulder.

Rain Soaked Forest — High Point State Park, NJ  © jj raia

Rain Soaked Forest — High Point State Park, NJ © jj raia

One useful note when photographing in the rain, or even just after a rain, is to use a polarizer to eliminate the glare from the water on leaves, grass or whatever is in the viewfinder. The image above as well as the one below were taken in a downpour yet my camera remained dry. The leaves on the ground would have reflected to bright gray sky if not for the polarizer which allowed the rich color of the soaked brown leaves on the ground and the leaves on the trees to really show through. Even the reflection from the boulder was eliminated. When things are soaked, there is much more contrast and the colors come alive. Note the almost black trunks of the young beech trees above. If they were their normal light gray color, much of the contrast would have been lost. They usually do not stay dark for long after the rain has stopped, so for the most part, shots like this need to be taken as it is raining. The rocks too are more dark and richer than they would normally be if they were dry.

Aspens in Fog — San Juan National Forest, CO  © jj raia

Aspens in Fog — San Juan National Forest, CO © jj raia

Sometimes, the rain is light (as in the image below), but you still need some protection for your camera gear. Remember, almost everything in our cameras and lenses is electronic, with information being sent along or through metal connections wires and chips. But water and electricity do not mix, and no matter how weather sealed things are, moisture is bound to find its way to where it shouldn’t be. If we can keep the water off in the first place, the better our gear will perform.

Young White Birch Stand — Delaware Watergap, NJ  © jj raia

Young White Birch Stand — Delaware Watergap, NJ © jj raia

So keep on shooting during the rain to gain a new perspective. Once you’ve tried it, you can look at a scene and know that it might look much better soaking wet and return then. You might begin to envision the image as you want it rather than how it appears at the time, and with patience, come away with something a bit better. By doing so, you may also find that you might see a scene and imagine how it would look with different lighting, or if it would look great in fog; file it in your memory and return when the conditions occur that you envisioned.


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