How to Capture Rain in Photography

How to Take Photos of Rain

Now that we know the challenges rain presents for photographers, let's talk about some techniques you can use to overcome them. As we mentioned in the previous section, the automatic settings on most digital cameras will over-correct for cloudy and rainy conditions, so you'll want to use the camera's manual settings to give you more control.

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.

In aperture priority mode, you can control both depth of field and the amount of light viewed by the camera. To capture photos of individual raindrops, try setting your camera to a very wide aperture (f/4 to f/1.4) and correct the lighting by adjusting the camera's ISO sensitivity.

To capture the sharpest photo possible, it's probably a good idea to bring a tripod to help keep the camera steady. Even then, you might want to bring some more light into the photo. For this, photographer Jim Richardson suggests using a very small amount of flash. Instead of using the camera's internal flash, get an external flash -- or speedlight -- and set it to one of the lowest settings, around -3.0 stops [source: National Geographic].

If you don't own a speedlight (or if you don't feel like pulling it out in the middle of a storm), try looking for other sources of natural and artificial backlighting. For example, streetlights can do a good job of highlighting rain. Shooting toward the light, but not directly into it, can help make individual raindrops stand out.