How to Photograph in the Rain

Streetcar riders peer through rain-splattered windows on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line in New Orleans. (Copyright 2009/Andrew Boyd)

Streetcar riders peer through rain-splattered windows on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line in New Orleans. (Copyright 2009/Andrew Boyd)

If you’re going to be serious about your photography, you need to develop strategies and techniques to keep your equipment dry whenever the wet stuff starts coming down.

Besides, rain brings wonderful, magical change to everything-you don’t want to miss the opportunity to capture the world refracted through raindrops.

The following items make up my “rain kit” :

  1. Large umbrella
  2. Medium bath towel (not hand towel, not beach);
  3. Heavy-duty poncho;
  4. Black rubber boots, about 14″ tall;
  5. Rain pants.
  6. Fotosharp rain covers (


Umbrella with classic handle, bath towel, poncho, rain pants, rubber boots, all part of the rain photography kit. (Copyright 2009/Andrew Boyd)

The umbrella is my favorite piece of rain gear. It won’t work if the wind is really strong, but for an average rainy shooting situation, this is the first thing you need. I take the full-sized umbrella and open it, jamming the handle into my side, and holding it there with my elbow and arm. The shaft is stabilized by my upper arm, which is also holding the camera. This works really well and will keep your camera dry, allowing you to shoot.

The bath towel is the next thing you need. Put this around your neck, under the umbrella. It’s just for general drying of gear as you proceed, making sure that UV filter on the front of your lens isn’t covered with any condensation.

The poncho is next. I like a heavy-duty poncho better than a rainsuit because I can carry my camera bag, and maybe a second camera/lens combo, under it. This really helps in windier conditions and it doesn’t tend to sweat like a rainsuit jacket will.

I’ll put my 14″ rubber boots on when needed, and the rain pants finish this rig. Decked out like this you should be able to take on most rainy situations.



Fotosharp rain cover. (Photo courtesy/Fotosharp)

Finally, I want to say a word about rain covers designed for camera gear. There are a bunch of manufacturers out there producing various “socks” for cameras and long lenses and these are all ok. The question of functionality is really what you need to look at since when actually trying to use these things, you’ll still need access to the equipment, up under the cover. Some do this better than others, and the brand that I prefer is made by a little company called Fotosharp:

I’ve used these covers in rain and in wet snow and they do a good job. The Velcro opening and drawstrings on both ends are elegant in their simplicity. And the see-through material used for the “white” covers-silicon-impregnated ripstop nylon-is really tough and waterproof. They come in a bunch of sizes and are relatively cheap. You might want to get a couple of them.

(And no, they’re not a sponsor of The Discerning Photographer!)

Finally, a new feature! Today we launch our first Discerning Photographer video. We hope to make this a regular feature with something presented each week. Check it out and please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Shooting in the Rain” video is available here is your reader is not loading it.]

selfport1aHi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Posted in: How To, Video

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

24 Comments on "How to Photograph in the Rain"

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  1. Here’s a link to the wettest wedding you could possibly get. We tried to go outside – I used bin liners on my off camera flashes (pinched from the catering staff). Notice I was wet through. Top tip when in the rain – take a change of clothes…
    Good article. Glad I’ve found this site.


  2. christine says:

    This site is nice! Thanks for the information and lovely ideas. By the way one of the best camera I know that is suitable for rainy days is the “Olympus Stylus Camera” Since it is waterproof, It can also used underwater. Taking pics and video! Great isn’t it?=)

  3. Sofia says:

    This is a great post Andew, very very helpful! I’m just starting out with my first D-SLR camera and have been thinking about daring to get out in rainy conditions and your post made me decide that – with the right gear – it’s really possible without taking any unnecessary risks for the equipment.

  4. Glad you liked it, Sofia! There are lots of beautiful images out there in the rain…

  5. I have not tried rain photography. In case I will try it I think I will use a glass case for my camera like those I saw that most scuba diver used. It is more safe that way closed glass with buttons outside of it to navigate your camera. I wish i have photo to show it.

  6. Nick says:

    This is pretty cool. I’m an amateur photographer and this is a great idea. Thanks for sharing with us!

  7. i very much prefer bath towels that are made of cotton or polyester, they are very soft and easy to dry’*,

  8. brittany says:

    Another interesting aspect of shooting under rainy conditions are reflections! Rain water serves as light reflectors, depending on how you compose your shot. I recommend starting with trying to take photos of reflections in the water, once you get a hold of this you can move onto to more advanced tricks. Reflections add a sense of awe, as well as an abstract feeling, to your photographs.

  9. Danielle says:

    I think I will use a glass case for my camera like those I saw that most scuba diver used. It is more safe that way closed glass with buttons outside of it to navigate your camera. I very much prefer bath towels that are made of cotton or polyester.

  10. Susan says:

    I like using my trusty, oversized rainsuit on wet days. I find that it’s the best way to keep me and my equipment dry. A poncho tends to come flying up in my face, or in my lens, when a breeze comes in.

  11. photographer says:

    Falling rain can appear blurry in photographs, and if that’s the effect you want — or if you’d like to exaggerate the blurry effect — try using the shutter speed priority mode. Adjusting your camera’s shutter speed can control the exposure, making a photo brighter or darker. Decreasing the shutter speed will increase the blur more, making drops of rain look like lines.

  12. Rachel says:

    Rain becomes more visible when it is backlit. The light coming through the raindrops is concentrated and slightly brighter than the rest of the scene. So find some light sources and shoot toward it. This could be a streetlight at night, or it could be the sun breaking though the clouds. Whatever the case, the rules are the same. One, the more directly you shoot into the light, the better you can see the raindrops. Two, shoot too directly and the light source will overpower your exposure. So always seek that magic angle in between. By the way, that umbrella you’ve been carrying can serve as a serviceable lens shade.

  13. Thanks for your thoughts, Rachel! You’re right about finding the ‘magic angle’ for rain shooting, and each situation will always turn out to be just a bit different.

  14. Peter Johngren says:

    Just watched your video on shooting in the rain and it was exactly what I was looking for. Thursday I will be heading to Ricketts Glen in PA for a waterfall photography workshop and rain is predicted. Your video was short, concise, practical, and enjoyable. Have watched it twice so far. Many thanks!!


  15. GLad you found it helpful, Peter. Good luck with the workshop!

  16. Thanks for the heads up on Fotosharp. We don’t get much rain in Maui where we live, but I need something like this in my camera bag for just in case. I had deliberated which rain cover to get, so it is nice to have a quality recommendation. Very helpful post.

  17. Get one for each of your cameras. The small size will actually fit almost anything up to an 80-200.

  18. Anita Mac says:

    Great tips. Heading out tomorrow for fall colours in 90% chance of rain! Too late for umbrella but a few towels from hotel may come in handy!

  19. Getting close to rainy season so I am going to order some of the small ones soon. Aloha ! Thanks for the great advice.

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