Shooting Landscape Photography in the rain

March 24, 2019

You don’t plan to shoot landscape photographs in the rain…. Last weekend I traveled to Sydney to join a landscape photo tour hosted by NISI Filters Australia and ProjectRawCast. I had great expectations for a full day of photographing with other keen photographers some of the beautiful locations along the south coast of NSW. Obviously, when you plan for these things, it’s a few weeks out so there is a high chance of ordinary weather and there isn’t much you can do about it, unless you want to cancel flights and accommodation bookings! The joys of a landscape photographer is that you can never perfectly plan for conditions, it is always a risk, but that is also what makes it so much fun. It is always different! Certainly, you don’t want to think about shooting landscape photography in the rain! But then again, it can produce some awesome results as well. Just expect to end up somewhat wet!

So anyway….the weather reports came through and a few days out from the planned landscape tour, it was obvious that there was a high chance of rain. Do I cancel (lose money etc) or continue and see how it turns out? Sometimes with storm clouds and rain, you get some amazing results, but they still need to be in the right location and not above you! Certainly, if you are visiting waterfalls, the extra rain will mean a higher flow of water which will ensure you have plenty of drama and interest in your shot.

So having arrived in Sydney on Saturday afternoon, the weather wasn’t too bad, with a few light showers here and there….I was anticipating nervously for the next day’s tour, fingers were crossed!

Waterfalls landscape photography during a break in the rain

The meeting point was at 6 am down at Circular Quay, and we were meant to be set up ready to get a ripper of a sunrise, the Sydney Opera House in the foreground etc etc…..well with the rain bucketing down, the sunrise was instantly a no go. We jumped into the vehicle and decided to start hitting the road early on the way south to our first stop which was a good hour or so drive away in Helensburgh. By which time the sun would have risen behind the rain clouds and we would have some more light to work with.

It is important to remember to be prepared for the times when it’s wet or there is potential for rain and you are planning on staying away from the normal comforts of indoors and take photographs instead. I made sure I had my waterproof jacket, trekking pants, and waterproof hiking boots with me. But also, very importantly, take an umbrella. Oh the joys of shooting landscape photography in the rain!

We were standing in deep puddles outside the Helensburgh Train Tunnel, with tripods and cameras set up, and the rain was not easing at all. In times like this, you know you need to be reasonably quick in how you decide on the shot you are after, ensure your settings are ready to go and try not to have to go into your camera bag, as everything may get wet! But with an umbrella over the camera you can keep the water away from the front of the lens, obviously keep your gear protected and hopefully, you are staying dry as well (depending on the size of the umbrella!).

Helensburgh Train Tunnel captured during a small break in the rain

When shooting in a location with so much water, and plenty of wet surfaces, a polariser filter is really important. It helps to take away unhelpful reflections in the water or from leaves and trees for example, and also helps to bring out the saturation in colours such as green foliage. Rocks, in particular, are something that can become very reflective and with just a bit of tweaking, you can take out the reflection and bring the detail back into the shot.

Another helpful item to have on hand is a lens cloth. Between every few shots, I was having to dry the front of the filter as rain still finds a way to splash up onto a lens, or there is simply so much mist in the air that it will eventually get wet and appear in your photos.

The thing with landscape photography in the rain is that you can never guarantee the perfect conditions, however, it is important to at least give the ordinary days/times a chance as you will most likely get some shots that you never thought about beforehand or are not as common (most people want to stay dry, let’s face it!)

After a few more failed attempts we ended up heading back to Sydney early, ready for a hot shower, change of clothes and rest. Just remember that for all those fantastic photographs you see people posting on their websites and Instagram profiles (including mine), there is far more photos that will never see the light of day as the conditions just weren’t right. Patience, patience, patience and try try again! Thanks for reading.

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