How to Capture Rain in Photography

Rain photography can capture the unexpected -- someone trying to jump a puddle or even landing in it. See more pictures of cool camera stuff.

When dark clouds roll in and rain starts falling, most of us run for cover, but many photographers run to grab their cameras. What's so special about rain? Sure, it can make things look ominous and dreary, but it can make familiar landscapes look unfamiliar in a variety of ways.

Not only does rain change the landscape, but it also changes the way people look. Think of those classic photos of mud-covered hippies dancing at Woodstock. Water can be the magic ingredient to transform a good photo into a great one. Street photographers love rainy days because it affects the way people dress and act. A candid photo of someone ducking for cover from the rain or hopping over a puddle can make an excellent photo; a shot of a businessman covering his head with a newspaper during a downpour can be priceless.

Rain photography isn't limited to falling water and wet people either; puddles, drips and reflections also provide great subject matter for interesting rain photography. For shutterbugs, the wonderful thing about rain is that it can transform a familiar scene or place into something completely different. It can also serve to clear the streets, giving cities a feeling of empty isolation. If you'd like to take a photo of a popular place with fewer people in the shot, shooting in the rain might be a good option [source: Photopoly].

Many photographers prefer overcast, cloudy days because the clouds diffuse sunlight, eliminating the very bright highlights and dark shadows at either end of the spectrum [source: Matt Greer Photography]. Rain can create interesting distortion, and it can affect lighting conditions in unusual ways. Of course, that isn't to say that rain photography is easy. The low light of an overcast day combined with the presence of water can create a unique set of challenges for any photographer, professional or amateur.

Read on for detailed information on how to capture some high-quality photos of rain.