Photography Tips for a Rainy Day
The camera sees rain in a very different way than the human eye brain combination. Much more of the surface area becomes white even on a gloomy day. Tweaking the contrast a little after the fact can make for very dramatic images.
This first one was shot at about 8.30 AM but the light level was closer to that at 6.30 AM. It was gloomy yet the wet surfaces facing the sky really picked up the highlights. On a dry gloomy day there would have been very little to work with.
As far as the composition goes a nice bit of tension is created between the woman (who the brain desperately wants to make the most important compositional element) and the broad white line and the parallel thinner line which are pictorially dominant.
The normal thing to do when shooting through a window is to focus on the scene on the other side rendering the glass invisible but this isn’t the only option. Sometimes interesting images can be made by focusing on the water on the window leaving the outside scene as an abstracted blur. This image is more about pattern than it is about objects
With a dSLR it is simply a matter of taking the focusing off automatic, usually a good idea anyway, and focusing manually to a point beyond the window. Point and shoots don’t have a manual option but that doesn’t matter as they all have a macro option so it is just a matter of switching to that and the camera will find the raindrops.
A lot of point and shoots now have an option other than macro and normal and that is infinity. Most cameras default to normal which coversbut it is worth setting the infinity option if you are focusing beyond about nine feet. The reason for this is that it makes the camera focus quicker as it knows which range to work in. I would guess that it also easier on batteries. Later Canon powershots seem to do this I doubt if Nikons do but could be wrong.
Of course lights always look cool when there is a bit of water around – doesn’t have to come from a city skyline reflected in a river. Again the white road markings are much more dominant in wet weather, even before upping the contrast in Adobe Lightroom.
This is an example of focusing on the rain on the window as opposed to the scene outside. I think it works best when the the scene can be discerned. Here it is not to difficult to see that the object is a car. Again what the brain sees as an extremely mundane scene, a mass produced car on a suburban road in the rain, the camera sees in a much more dramatic way.
This is a more complex image as it has all a focus on the raindrops, an easily discernible school bus and building and the blinds in front of the window. The focus could have been on any of these elements and the result would have been very different but it probably would have been OK.
On a dry day this terracotta sun is pretty uninspiring and very flat looking but the softness works really well with the extra contrast and the whole thing becomes much more three dimensional.
Another effect of rain combined with gloom is that of saturated colors, they benefit every bit as much as contrast from this weather. The textural quality of the peeling and fading paint would be lost on a day when direct sunlight was bleaching the color out of everything. This was shot at around noon.
I just liked this from a compositional point of view. The pieces are actually part of an old sculpture by my wife that goes by the title of ‘Surfer dude’ . The plank with the old wheels on is the base and the painted cedar is the dude. It would make more sense if the face part was visible honest. Wet rust always looks good.
As you can see we keep a very neat garden. This stone figure followed us from our last house. Again the combination of rain and really even soft light gives the image a really strong three dimensional look.
These objects haven’t been moved for months and they are now becoming part of the landscape. The figure spent much of the winter covered in snow. Very laid back pose thing going on.
This is a brick from an old septic tank and the water really emphasizes the lettering and the roundness of the pea gravel that surrounds it.
This image really appeals because of the solidity of the bricks. The wetness really emphasizes their form and this seems to throw the scale out. The mind wants to see the sides as much bigger than they actually are.
Photography is all about surfaces modifying light and the simple act of wetting a surface completely changes the way it modifies light. We have objects with the same forms but that have suddenly gained a whole new set of properties, the most important one, to me at any rate, is a sense of drama. Now you know at least part of the reason why it always rains in film noir.