Nikon D3100 and Photographing Rain

How Do You Photograph Rain

“How do you photograph rain,” (alternatively – “How to photograph rain,”) is a question that people are searching for answers for when coming to my blog, and I thought I would run my own simulation to show you how I photograph rain.

I would use the same basic method and equipment if I were outside in the rain:  However, today was sunny for a change…what I mean is, that it appears to be monsoon season here and it typically rains daily.  I got lucky with the sunshine, but not lucky to show how to create rain photographs outside, today.

I created a waterproof light enhancer specifically for wet situations:  Patent Pending…Hahaha…Hummmmm Could be….

Keeping equipment dry when shooting in the rain, or water, is very important.  Yes, that seems almost too logical and obvious; but who knows, maybe someone gets too excited and runs outside in a down-pour and ruins equipment, then, OOPS!

WATERPROOF LIGHT ENHANCER_DSC5493, NJN

This is the water-tight “Tupperware” light enhancer that I came up with:  I know, it isn’t so pretty, but that does not matter, keeping my light dry is the important thing, plus it creates a really nice, soft diffused light that can be placed close to the subject.

The shot above shows the enhancer without lid, and the photo below shows the inside:  I’m using a METZ 32 Z-2 strobe with a wireless receiver attached.

I have covered half of the inside with tinfoil; therefore, I can angle the METZ head toward the tinfoil, and bounce the light off the tinfoil and out through the front-frosted area of the container, and through the top (lid).  If you need more light, then simply point your flash in the other direction!  You can also drop some colored gels in there and create or filter light as you desire.

METZ 32-Z-2_DSC5496, NJN

Actually, it isn’t Tupperware, but any watertight plastic-ware would do the trick as long as it is easy to get into, and your flash with remote receiver can fit inside.  My flash unit with remote receiver fits perfectly!

ATTACHING THE ENHANCER TO THE TRIPOD OR LIGHT STAND

A bolt and nut are super-glued and epoxy glued to the bottom of the container.  The nut is glued half-way (ONLY) to the bolt:  The other half of the nut thread is left open, and this is how you attach the light enhancer to a tripod or light stand.  Make sure you get the right sized bolt and nut combo to fit the threads of your tripod head.  Take the head with you to the hardware store if you need to, to try it out.

MODIFIER CONNECTING POST, IMG_0117, NJN

USE A LOT OF EPOXY (WATER-PROOF TYPE) TO ENSURE THAT THE WEIGHT OF THE ENHANCER + STROBE does not cause it to simply break off where the bolt head connects to the bottom side of the plastic container.  IF the light enhancer takes a tumble, then, well…obviously it could damage the strobe.  Therefore, you may want to put a strobe on the inside that you would not be terribly upset about, if the unforeseeable happens, and it were to fall to the ground.  A dive-bombing flash unit is not a good thing to have happen, but it is possible.

DO A TEST FIRST

Once you have the enhancer put together the way you want, you need to test it out under water – WITHOUT ANY STROBE!  Run a lot of water all over it and then open it up and see if it stayed dry on the inside.  If yes, then you are good to go.

PLACEMENT OF THE WATERPROOF LIGHT ENHANCER

My device is meant to be placed close to the subject:  Thus, expect your tripod or light stand to get wet.  After I use this enhancer for water shots, I take the tripod out into the hot Malaysian sunshine to dry quickly, and then I lube up all the joints and metal moving parts of the tripod with WD-40 (or any equivalent lubricant product).

This is a Rain Simulation…At Nighttime.

The shower in my bathroom seemed like a good monsoon-style rain simulator.  I also wanted to throw in another point of difficulty – I pretended as if it were raining at nighttime.  Therefore, I had to create an atmosphere like a nighttime rain.

To create a nighttime scene, I taped black material over the bathroom window, and I planned to turn the lights off when making the shot.  MANUAL Focusing had to be done with the lights on.

The photo below shows the position of my light source with respect to the umbrella that was getting rained on.

FLASH SETUP NEAR WATER SOURCE, IMG_0115, NJN

Now, the main point you need to keep in mind regarding your camera is:  KEEP – IT – DRY!

No matter if you are shooting simulated rain or real rain, you need to keep your camera dry.  For me, with the main shot (below), that meant using a zoom lens and standing back out of the “splash-zone”.

If you are taking real rain photographs, then perhaps you will need your own umbrella (a big one) to stand under while photographing.  Or, you can stand under a porch, or an awning, or in a doorway opening, or anywhere where rain will not get on your camera and lens.

Photographing Rain, No2_DSC5500-C, NJN (2)

Here is my simulated, nighttime rain photograph.

I used my NIKON D3100, with a NIKKOR 35 – 70mm f/3.3 Lens.  My shutter speed was 1/160th second, and the aperture was set at f/11.0.  You can do your own experimentation with shutter speed and aperture combinations.

That is how I create rain photographs, sometimes.

I hope this has provided you with at least one option and answer to the question:  “How to  Photograph Rain?”

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