April showers bring May flowers! The famous proverb could have been inspired by the picture above, by Mandhara J, one of the winners of the LSP Awards last year.
When it rains, many photographers decide to leave the camera at home. If you are one of them, you are missing the opportunity to capture unexpectedly compelling shots.
It’s not very easy to juggle a camera and an umbrella together but with a few tips, this problem can be handled.
Photographing just before of just after rain is an option for those who don’t want to get wet. The dark clouds in the sky seconds before a heavy downpour can be an explosion of colours and tones (left). Not on gray , overcast days, but on days very much like the ones experienced during spring, when the rain is fast and strong, happening between sunny spells. Be quick, it lasts very little time. To get the depth of the stunning colours, pre-set the camera exposing for the brightest part of the scene (spot metering). This will darken the overall image, bringing the colour saturation up. Another option is to underexpose (light meter on minus) with evaluative metering mode.
Just after it rains, when the sun shines again, a parallel universe emerges from any environment. At cities, wet asphalt and puddles become mirrors. In the countryside, gardens and fields are covered in tiny drops and if you look at it carefully with a macro lens, almost surreal images can be created, like in the main image above.
One of the most iconic pictures of Henri Cartier-Bresson was taken after rain. Gare St. Lazare train station has been portrayed by many artists but Bresson’s 1932 take on the station was totally different. “Derrière la gare de Saint-Lazare”, as the picture was named, is not a photo noted for its historicity, but it is a photo that represented the entire life’s works of Cartier-Bresson. Throughout his life, Bresson had been a champion of the Decisive Moment, and a seeker of the unexplored. Derrière la gare de Saint-Lazare represents both, and defined his career.
Now, if you decide to photograph while its raining, remember to protect your camera. There are camera cases designed especially for that, but a simple plastic zip bag can do the trick. A waterproof backpack or bag is also important for the rest of your equipment.
Cameras are supposed to be weather resistant (not waterproof, unless specified) and a few drops won’t damage it. But afterwards, have some silica gel pouches in your equipment bag to attract any moisture as fungus may develop and ruin your lenses.
At night, rain can transform cityscapes dramatically as in the picture (left) by Magnum photographer Bruno Barbey, with the neon lights reflected on the ground. Do a quick image search for inspiration. Look at websites like Magnum Photos and Getty Images for that.
Another Magnum photographer, Martin Parr, explored famous British weather like no other. His book entitled “Bad Weather” is a wonderful account of what most photographers try to avoid, really bad weather. So, next time it is raining, don’t feel under the weather, pick your camera and pick up a theme, like for example, this beautiful compilation of “Umbrellas around the World” by Fotopedia.
Upload your RAIN IMAGES to the Flickr Gallery: ASSIGNMENT #25 for a chance to win an Evening Workshop Voucher at LSP*. Deadline: 30 April 2014.
Main Photo: Mandhara J / Text: Luciana Franzolin