It has been a bit miserable of late, hasn’t it? I still think back to last year’s autumn and the glorious sunshine...
No such luck this year, but it is perhaps more typical of this time of the year. So to help you out I thought that a few tips on how to still capture some good images in wet and soggy weather might be of help.
Cameras and water
Let’s start with a little safety warning: your camera does not like water. Not even a little bit. If you drop your camera in water, you are very very likely to kill your camera. Your lens also doesn’t like water. Please also do not attempt to bathe it in puddles. They both can tolerate a small amount of rain - some camera bodies and lenses will be weatherproof which means they can withstand the wet weather better, but they are usually the ones on the pricy end.
So how do you protect your gear?
I would avoid bringing it out in anything heavier than a drizzle unless you have waterproof covers for it. You can purchase a waterproof sleeve that goes over your camera but unless you are planning on shooting in wet weather frequently, you will probably not make enough use of it to justify the cost. As an alternative - a simple plastic bag will do perfectly well. The blue plastic shoe covers you get not to stomp in your boots all over swimming pools will be good here too, as will a shower cap. I have once seen a tiny umbrella for your camera that clipped onto the lens mount, but not sure how I feel about it…
Help - my camera got wet!
IF your camera or lens does get significantly wet ( and I mean more than just a few drops of drizzle) and you suspect water may have got into the mechanism, separate the two and place them in a warm, dry, dust-free space to let them recover. Try them again after 24h and if there are working fine - great. If not, you may need to send them in for a service.
Now that we have this out of the way, here are some suggestions for wet weather photos you might want to capture this autumn ( or frankly any time of the year).
Let’s start indoors:
Feature that rainy window:
My youngest child is what you would class as a ‘mud child’ - always happiest when out and about and dirty. So wet weather usually means first trying to convince me that it’s absolutely fine to go out because we have umbrellas, then staring forlornly through the rainy window because I said no. If that scenario sound familiar, you want to capture that rainy window and make it into a feature.
You have 2 choices here: will you be looking from the inside - out? Or will you be looking for the outside in? Both are good - one will require you to get briefly wet.
LETS GO OUTSIDE
But if it did stop to rain heavily and you’re brave enough to venture outside, there are some great photo opportunities out there.
First of all - when everything is wet, everything is shiny and reflective. Shiny and reflective look great in camera BUT the direction of light is crucial here.
When a thin layer of water sits atop concrete, when you angle your camera right, you can get either a shiny surface that will make the image look brighter or if the water covers enough of the surface to hide its texture - a mirror.
Check out the three photos here. Same leaf, same place, same camera setting - the only thing different is the direction of light.
Wet weather at night can also be exciting - once the kids are in bed, someone else is looking after them and you can venture out.
Getting your camera very low down to the ground - and I mean literally sitting on a thin bit of foam to insulate it from the ground - and you can capture something like this. The reflective mirror like part of the image is nothing but wet concrete.
Is there a child that doesn’t love puddles? Luckily, they can photograph really well, especially after the rain has stopped and a bit of blue sky has come in because as far as a photographer is concerned, they are not puddles, but mirrors.
Even a tiny puddle can look great if you angle your camera correctly. And by correctly, I mean again, very very low, pretty much on the ground ( just make sure to protect it from the wet. You want to get your camera seeing from right at the edge of puddle to create that illusion of infinite water. By using a short focal length ( aka - not zooming in at all) you can stretch that puddle and still fit a lot of your subject in. With longer focal lengths ( aka - zoom in) you can bring more details in.
Again - really important - walk around your puddle and take test shots from a couple of different directions to make sure you get the light right. If the light is behind them, you may get a great reflection of the sky, but their reflection will look shady and muddy. If the light will be behind you, you can get an almost perfect, mirror-like reflection of your subject in full colour.
Splashing in puddles
But lets face it, you won’t be able to keep that little person of yours from jumpring in the puddle for long. So let’s make the most of it!
What you want from a good puddle splash is one thing - and that’s a crown or water splashing out and being frozen in time and space with your camera.
First and foremost, I am sorry, but if you want to get a really good picture of that, you will again, need to get very low on the ground. I hope you’re wearing something that wipes dry?
By placing the camera nice and low and pointing it at your subject, parallel to the ground, you are building in depth in your image which will allow for the crown of water to truly stand out. If you shoot from CAH ( comfortable Ault height) - your shooting angle will be pointing downwards, which means you will get that crown agains the ground and it won’t make the best of images.
Second thing, if you can control it, is ensuring your camera has a hood shutter speed. If you can shoot in shutter priority or manual, aim ofr 1/500s or faster. If you don;t switch your camera over to Sports mode or similar.
Finally - again, experiment with your light direction - especially if the sun has come out - it can make a world of difference.
I am a firm believer that an investment in a good umbrella always pays off. For one, it’ll keep you from rain. But also - can make for a great accessory for your photos! And with so many cute and fun choices out there or even nearly completely transparent ones, there is no excuse not to get one out when wet, even if it stopped raining already. Let your child play with it, twirl it, hide under it or peep through it - the possibilities are endless!
A word of warning - a colourful umbrella can add a pop of colour to an otherwise drab day and really bring the focus back on your child. Be aware though that bright umbrellas will cast a bit of colour on your child - in most cases, for home photography it’s not a problem but it’s worth knowing where thise odd colours might be coming from if you see them!