Photography in rain

Have you noticed how everything changes after a monsoon shower? Trees look greener, the air clears up; puddles tell new stories with their reflections and oil rainbows. Besides, there’s something quite romantic about the rains. Now, we all click summertime photos, but why should a little wetness and moisture deter you from capturing this season in all its glory?

PROTECT YOUR GEAR

Electronics and water don’t go well together, so the first thing you will need to do is ensure that your camera or phone doesn’t get wet. To keep your equipment dry, use…

An umbrella: Carry a brolly that is big enough to shield your device from rain and protect you. Good photos are all about the composition; you need to take a few seconds to frame the scene. With both you and your shooter under protection, chances are you will get a better shot. Though strong winds might make it tricky, so pick a spot that won’t turn your umbrella into a sail.

Plastic bag: If you use a point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone, nothing beats the good old `Ziploc’ bag for storage.Use a thick plastic bag, a lens hood, and a rubber band if you’re shooting with a DSLR or superzoom camera. Attach the lens hood to the camera and drape the bag over the lens and camera, with the open end facing you. Fix the rubber band onto the lens hood and cut the closed end of the bag so your camera can `see’ out. Finally, pull the plastic back till the band. Now you can pop your head in through the open end of the bag and access the camera controls.

A CD spindle cover: To make your own lens cover, grab an old CD case spindle and use its top to cover the length of the lens barrel. You’ll need to cut a hole out of the closed end, of course.Cover the camera body with plastic and push your lens through the spindle. Use tape to seal the bridge between the plastic cover and the spindle to prevent water from seeping into any gaps. It’s a quick-and-simple trick that gets the job done.

Note: It is very important to do a trial run. Operating a camera with rain gear on will feel a bit cumbersome.So first set up indoors, as though it were raining, to get accustomed to the plastic around it and iron out visibility issues, if any. Next, test your rainproof apparatus in a controlled wet environment, like under your shower.

SHOOTING TIPS

Pay attention to light: Yes, rain adds a lot to a photo, but it also takes away an important aspect: natural light. Those dark clouds elbow out the sun, so you need to pay attention to capturing as much natural light in your photos as possible. Position yourself such that your subject is facing your light source. For instance, near a window or entrance of the place you’re in. This way, you will get portrait shots with great mood lighting. Be ready to change your position to capture light appropriately.

Capturing raindrops: Raindrops are tricky to capture because of multiple reasons: Light passes through them, they are small and they are in constant motion. To photograph raindrops, capture them against a dark background since they are most visible that way. Also, look for glass surfaces like a windshield or objects such as plants and flowers, where you will see water droplets collecting. And if your camera has a manual mode, dial the shutter speed down to medium to capture stunning shots of blurred raindrops.

Convey rain: Unless it’s a downpour, most cameras (especially smartphones) won’t capture the droplets falling out of the sky. Here, you need to look for ways to convey that it is raining, rather than capture the rain. People and animals always have a physical reaction to rain, so aim to capture that and not just raindrops.For instance, it could be a child stomping puddles; passersby running for cover; reflections in water, or a sea of colorful umbrellas.

Shoot first, review later: If you want to don’t want to miss `the moment’, then don’t review how a picture turned out immediately after you shoot it.Instead, keep shooting photos and check them later. That said, it’s a good idea to review initial shots for exposure and details. This way, you can fine-tune your settings and once you get it right ­ click away.

Go easy with the flash: Low light does not have to mean bad light. A downpour lends itself to some gorgeous lighting conditions. So use your flash sparingly, as it may result in harsh photos. Move around and you will almost always find a better angle that lights up your subject the way you want.Plus, rain leads to several reflective surfaces, especially on the ground.

ESSENTIAL GEAR

Your digital camera phone is going to be exposed to moisture.

Here are some essential items you should always carry when you head out for a shoot…

Silica gel packets: Drop a few packets of silica gel in your camera’s case and shooting bag. These absorb moisture and prevent condensation from affecting your gadget. You can get these online or at local general stores.

Extra plastic bags and covers: Don’t go with just one plastic bag or re-sealable cover. Pack a few extra bags that you can use to transfer your camera into after you are done.

Dry cloths and hand towels: Use these to dry your hands and the camera body as often as you can. You’re going to get wet, but that doesn’t mean you should stay wet. Remember to keep a soft dry cloth for after you are done with the shoot.

Microfiber cloth and chamois leather: Drying the lens surface with a hand towel can lead to scratches. Always use a microfiber cloth or chamois leather to wipe the lens ­ it is soft and absorbent and does not harm the lens. Like the dry clothes, carry spares.

Tripod: This is not exactly mandatory, but if you are going to have an umbrella in one hand, then shooting with the other is going to require serious dexterity. Just make sure you don’t camp on mushy, unstable ground.

If your camera gets wet…

Photography in wet weather has its risks, so you should be prepared for this eventuality as well. While there is no guarantee of the outcome, but it is nevertheless wise to perform first-aid on your gadget…

Switch off the device immediately. Remove the battery and memory card; leave the hatches open.

Dab the cloth, microfiber and/or chamois leather to absorb water and moisture, while gently removing any dirt and gravel stuck to the body. Do not wipe or apply force.

Once you have dried the device from the outside, place it in a re-sealable bag that is filled with rice or packets of silica gel. Leave this in a warm, dry place for a couple of days.

Be patient. Attempt to switch it on only after it is completely dry. Take it to a service center to assess for internal damage.

If you dropped your shooter in water or sewage, take it immediately to the service center to prevent corrosion from ruining its circuitry. You may be charged for salvaging your gear.

THE `SAFE EXPOSURE’ TRIANGLE

A camera sensor’s exposure (to light) is a function of three aspects: aperture, shutter speed, and the ISO setting. Check out Photography Mapped (photographymapped.com) and Camera Sim (camerasim.com) and use the interactive simulator to get a hang of how these three settings work.

For overcast conditions, you can use the following settings mentioned below. Feel free to play around with them, making one change at a time, to see how it affects the final output.

Aperture: f8 and lower | ISO: 400 or lower | Shutter Speed: 1250 and higher If you are used to shooting in “Auto“ mode, then check out the simulator websites mentioned above. Also, start off by keeping the shutter speed and ISO constant, at the recommended settings. Now, you only have to adjust the aperture setting ­ the wider it is (lower f-stop), the more light you will capture. So if you are dealing with weak natural light, open the aperture wider. Start at f8, `widen’ it one step at a time and take the same scene again. Review the photos and use the settings that give you the best results.

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