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Rain photography tips: how to get amazing shots when it’s raining

April 28, 2021
  • 15,314
  • 7 min

Want to take moody shots with hidden depths? Grab your camera and go outside when it’s raining! 

It might be not as comfortable, as shooting in warm, dry weather. But you can get some truly amazing pictures. When it’s raining, there are fewer people outside, so you have greater chances of getting an unusual photo of a place that’s otherwise usually crowded. Plus, you get the reflections and splashes that make everything look magical – and a chance for dramatic clouds or even a rainbow… are you convinced yet? 

In this article, we’ll share with you all we know about taking photos in the rain. Let’s get started!

Camera settings

There aren’t any specific recommendations for camera settings for rain photography – there are too many things you need to take into account when setting the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. But we do have a couple of tips that may help you achieve your desired results:

Medium to high ISO for overcast days 

Rainy weather often means low light. If that’s the case, use a higher ISO to help you maintain a faster shutter speed and catch the raindrops. 

Fast shutter speed for raindrops

If you want to capture raindrops or splashes, you’re going to need a fast shutter speed – the faster it is, the clearer the drops will be in the photos. Start with 1/500-1/1000 and check the results. For sharper drops make the shutter speed even faster. 

If you want the rain to appear as long streaky lines instead, use slower shutter speeds – for example, 1/30. In this case, you’re going to need a tripod.

Balance shutter speed and depth of field

A large aperture allows more light into the camera while maintaining a fast shutter speed. On the other hand, a larger aperture means a wider depth of field, which is not such a great idea if you want one particular element – let’s say raindrops – to be in focus. To keep specific items in focus, you need a narrow depth of field. Start with around f/8 – and experiment until you achieve the desired result.

Flash in manual mode

Flash is a useful tool for rain photography: it will highlight the drops that are closer to the camera lens and also helps you maintain a high shutter speed. The secret is to use the manual mode on your camera; automatic settings often deliver results that are too harsh. If you set the intensity yourself, you can create amazing shots.

Manual focus

With so many details and raindrops in front of it, the camera may get “confused” in the autofocus mode. To catch all those drops on glass, splashes from under wheels, or reflections, try using manual focus.

If you want to know more about basic camera settings, check out the guide we created especially for beginning and amateur photographers.

Creative techniques to get amazing photos in the rain

Now that we’ve dealt with the settings, we move on to the interesting stuff! Here are our creative ideas and tips to help you to make amazing rainy day pictures.

1. Go for a darker background

It’s much easier to get a nice rainy shot when it’s dark outside. Reflections on the wet ground are clearer, individual raindrops are more visible, and the overall mood of the picture is more expressive.

All you need is just a couple of sources of direct light to make the splashes and reflections visible – and you’ll have a stunning photo.


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A post shared by GIVE THANKS FILM (@takuma_gtf)

2. Experiment with lighting

In photos, rain looks particularly cool when it’s backlit – drops and splashes are more visible, they almost shine against a dark background. Find an interesting light source and place your subject in such a way that the light is coming from behind it. Try everything – a streetlight, a neon advertisement, a ray of sunshine breaking through dark clouds. If the light is too bright, try moving a little to the side so that it doesn’t hit your lens directly.

3. Get creative with your flash

As we noted earlier, flash can help you catch splashes and raindrops if you use it correctly. It’s definitely worth experimenting with. Set your flash to manual mode and turn it a little – try different intensities of light.

4. Appreciate time after the rain

Don’t want to get too wet in the rain? Go shooting after it’s over! If it’s dark outside, you will get beautiful reflective ground – a perfect time for street photography. During the day you might get a nice shot of a rainbow or a picture of retreating dark clouds and the sun breaking through. 


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A post shared by Pierre T. Lambert (@pierretlambert)

5. Look up to the sky 

By the way, about the sky. Don’t forget to look up when you go out for rain photography. If it’s sunset or sunrise, the clouds will look particularly beautiful. Find a higher spot to capture them at their best.  


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Публикация от Pierre T. Lambert (@pierretlambert)

6. Look for emotions

Rain makes it much easier to make atmospheric shots. Look for emotions and capture people laughing, dancing, being sad – basically, doing anything in the rain. Look for contradictions: maybe you can find someone doing things that people don’t usually do during a downpour – like playing sports or riding a rocking horse. 

7. Focus on the raindrops

Usually, you would use raindrops as fun additional decorations in your photos. But try making them the main focus of your image. Capture rain on a window or even on your lens – the drops can make beautiful objects or a cool filter to look at the city through. 

If you decide to experiment with this, try shooting wide open – especially at night. This way, you’ll catch all the beautiful reflections and colors of the nights.


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A post shared by Lauren E. Izzett (@laurene.izzett)

8. Take advantage of umbrellas 

Umbrellas add shape and texture to a shot. You can use an umbrella in a hundred different ways during a photoshoot – as a natural frame for your subject, as a prop that covers unattractive parts of a scene, as a “filter” for your image, if it’s transparent, or even as a reflector!


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A post shared by Louise ? (@thistle_be_life)

9. Take the perfect reflection shot

Rain is the perfect time to get those amazing symmetrical reflection shots everyone goes crazy about. To make one, you’ll need to almost put your camera on the ground – so be ready to get your clothes wet. All you need is a still puddle and a beautiful attraction above it. 


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A post shared by erjol (@erjolmuarem)

Protect your gear (and yourself)

Last but not least, we need to talk about protecting your camera and yourself from getting too cold and wet.

Make sure you have waterproof camera cases, lens hoods, or at least a plastic bag (if the rain catches you unexpectedly). To play it safe, you can also seal the area where the lens meets the camera with tape.

Don’t forget to get a raincoat for yourself too! And choose shoes carefully for a rainy day photoshoot – opt for good rubber boots. Also, get a nice umbrella – not only to make your shots moodier but also to protect yourself. When possible, shoot from under awnings, inside a car, or through a window.

That’s it! We hope this helps you get some amazing rainy day shots. Good luck 😉 

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