I’m regularly surprised by the number of photographers I meet that baby their cameras to the extreme. If the forecast says rain is due in 10 days time they’re running to get their cameras in a waterproof case. As a result they miss pictures 🙁
A few weeks ago I met up with model Suzanne for a short outdoor summer evening photoshoot. I had travelled light with just one camera and two two lenses, and two Speedlites. I had medium Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe 38cm x 38cm softbox, two light stands and some coloured gels.
Guess what? It was grey and overcast and as the shoot progressed it started to rain. You have to learn to work with British summertime.
As it turned out we shot in a church yard never left a small area of around eight metres by five metres for the whole shoot.
I started off with a couple of simple tight headshots and moved to a sitting pose – me lying on the ground – and some standing.
It was at this point that I got out the other Speedlite and positioned it behind Suzanne to backlight her. If you do this then makes sure that this light is set to manual not E-TTL. Firing a flash at the camera is a pretty reliable route to some wildly inaccurate exposures. As I was using group mode I kept the main light in E-TTL.
I noticed a sodium lamp on the wall, nice idea for a bit of backlight I thought… So I gelled my flash behind Suzanne with a full CTO gel. I also tried to get some lens flare, and took the lens hood off the 135mm to help.
Convinced I was on to something I switched out the orange CTO gel for a red one for a somewhat different look.
Then we felt the first drops of rain… so took shelter under a tree, that gave me another different shot with more consideration for some detail in the background. ISO 400, f/2.8 and 1/1/60s was just enough.
I had said that we’d stop if it rained heavily, but it was that light rain, the sort you can stand out in, and have to ask yourself is it really raining. Only one way to tell… backlight the rain. Not only did I backlight it, I also had the flash set to a higher output from when it had been covered with the red gel. I like the effect but some won’t.
One thing to say – if you add rain to your pictures in Photoshop, remember that the rain will show different levels of sharpness in front of the subject, in the focus plane and behind it. Use natural rain and you get it looking natural right in camera 🙂
All pictures with EOS 5D Mark III and EF 135mm f/2L USM lens.
I did start off talking about photographers panicking in case of a spot of rain. I used the non-weather sealed EF 135mm f/2L USM lens and EOS 5D Mark III. In this kind of rain, using a lens hood keeps the front element free from rain drops. An occasional wipe down with a chamois leather is as much as I would do if I was going to be out for a long time. The EOS 5D Mark III is pretty well weather sealed and I’ve never been worried about it’s ability to survive heavy rain running off the body. The Speedlite 600EX-RT flashes and ST-E3-RT transmitter are all weather sealed. In fact of all the kit I have, the one item I tend to avoid in wet conditions is the Speedlite 430EX III-RT. Water, no weather sealing and big internal voltages don’t seem a safe idea to me.
So embrace the “bad weather” and remember there will be less photographers out to get in your way too.
Gear mentioned in this post
- Canon EOS 5D Mark III
- EF 135mm f/2L USM
- Speedlite 600EX-RT
- Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT
- Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe 38cm x 38cm
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