Wind and rain often sees photographers heading for shelter but with a bit of planning you can keep dry and open up a whole range of great photo opportunities. Here are some tips and ideas for wet weather photography. Keep in mind that these tips are written with a sub tropical/temperate climate in mind and some things may not apply in other areas.
#1 Keep yourself dry – This is sometimes the hardest part – in order to get that perfect angle we find ourselves in all sorts of unusual and contorted positions. A good quality rain jacket and rain pants make a huge difference in how easily you can move around and how long you can stay dry for. I find an umbrella is a really useful bit of gear – it means you dont need to use a rain hood on your jacket (unless it’s really wild out there) which I always find obscures my vision. You can use an umbrella to provide some shelter from the wind as well.
#2 Keep your gear dry – There are lots of commercial options for keeping your gear dry from simple covers through to fully submersible housings which cost more than the camera. I use a nylon raincoat for my camera which fastens securely onto the viewfinder and cinches tight on the front of the lens, it has holes for your hands and a clear plastic back to see the screen.
There are plenty of other options that are much cheaper as well – a quick Google search will give you plenty of ideas. I usually have several large ziplock bags, these are great because you can secure them around the front of the lens and still use all your controls and see the screen. A rubber band or piece of elastic is an easy way to secure a bag onto the front element. I have also used them to put my external flashes in, the wireless triggers work just as well through the plastic bags and you can get your lighting setup just how you would like.
Even something as simple as a garbage bag which you can use to put over your setup – even over your tripod and camera setup – can be really useful for a passing shower.
Whenever I am shooting outdoors I also carry with me a small offcut of heavy duty silver tarp which is great for keeping gear off the ground and out of the dirt but can also be used for wet weather protection – it is cheap and light weight.
When it comes to your camera itself there are several things you can do when shooting in wet weather. I dont always use UV or protective filters on the front of the lens but they are invaluable in wet weather when you end up frequently cleaning the front element. A lens hood does a fantastic job of keeping spray off the front and should always be on when the weather turns ugly (In fact I almost never use mine without a hood in any situation). Remember that some cameras and lenses have built in weather sealing which reduces the amount of protection they need, but always better to be safe than sorry.
Before you head out thing through what you might need and try to have things close at hand so that you minimise the need to change lenses or open your camera bag. I have a spare battery and memory card in a waterproof case which is in a Jacket pocket. I will also have a soft cloth to wipe any rain or spray off the front of the lens. Try to minimise they amount of gear you bring with you and just work with what you have.
#3 Make the most of it – bad weather creates some unique opportunities for photography, there are reflections to play with, motion to capture and the light is usually lovely and soft – it just takes a little planning and preparation.
What ever you do please stay safe – things get slippery when wet and flooded creeks are dangerous. There is no point in getting some great photos if your camera gear gets damaged or worse you get injured.