Rainy days are great for photography – honest!

Las Iguanas

I’m always telling the people who come on my workshops that rain offers wonderful opportunities for great photos, but what I do when it rains?  I stay in, of course.  Well, you know – it’s wet out there.

But sometimes you get caught in it without meaning to, and last week was one of those times.  My friend Eileen and I had gone to see the Tracy Emin exhibition at the South Bank Centre in London.  I still don’t know what I think about Ms Emin so maybe I’ll come back to that bit of it later.  Anyway, the South Bank Centre is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain at the moment, and there are artworks of various kinds all around the area.  Before we went in, when it was still dry – just – we explored a few of these.

One of them is the Urban Fox, a giant structure made out of straw applied to a wooden framework.  He’s rather good, isn’t he?

Urban Fox

And this is a photo of a photo of him being transported there.  You can see just how big he is – look at the size of his head compared to the size of the truck transporting him.

Urban Fox transporter

There was also this themed, outdoor, cafe sort of place; not sure what it was meant to be about, but the colours were wonderful.

Indian cafeFlowers and stripes

 

Dishoom

I also loved the bright pink of this Banksy-style mural, especially in among the rather nasty grey concrete that dominates this area.

Pink

As we came out, we headed for an amazing rooftop garden (of which more in another post).  We started exploring, but the clouds had darkened and the rain began to come down in huge, fat drops, so we headed for cover.  Beneath us as we came down the steps there was a fountain installation by Jeppe Hein called Appearing Rooms.  Jets of water create ‘rooms’ inside the fountain, and these rooms keep changing.  A group of teenagers had stripped off and were having huge fun trying to predict where the next ‘room’ would appear.

Appearing Rooms

They left shortly after we reached shelter but this little boy wandered up, looked at the fountain for a moment, and then jumped right into it fully clothed.  A few minutes later his mother appeared, looking absolutely horrified.  There are times when I wish I wasn’t so old and sensible; part of me was wanting to run right into it myself and dance in the centre.

Fountain dancer

I also took this shot, looking up through the fountain towards the steps we had just come down.  The couple with the umbrella appeared at the top of the steps and I suddenly saw what a great shot it would make, taken through the water jets.  I zoomed right in and grabbed the shot – they only stayed there for a moment – not knowing if it would work, but it did!

Umbrella

The rain was torrential, with some thunder and lightning.  I liked this guy’s solution to staying dry.

Orange cape

Chairs in the rain

Central Bar

Green reflection

And I’m going to include this shot (because I like it), even though I got it badly wrong and the shoes are very out of focus – I’m so annoyed with myself.

Shoes

Finally, some tips that might be helpful if you fancy trying some photography in the rain.

  • Sounds obvious, but unless your camera has weather-sealing, keep it as dry as possible. Light rain probably won’t harm it for a short while, but it should definitely be protected against heavy rain. Hold an umbrella over it; pop it inside a ziplock plastic bag (with hole cut out for lens); buy a pack of Rainsleeves (very cheap); or splash out on a well-designed rain cover. At the very least, tuck it inside your jacket while you’re not using it.
  • Two more cheap ways of keeping your camera dry: use one of those clear plastic shower caps you get in hotel rooms – place the elasticated end over the lens. Or use an old waterproof jacket or trousers (try charity shops) and cut off an arm or a leg. These are often elasticated, which helps fit the end round your lens.
  • Don’t ignore the obvious: find a doorway or tree to shelter under while you shoot.
  • Wipe your camera – lens, LCD screen, camera body – down frequently with a microfibre cloth.
  • To keep your lens as dry as possible, keep the lens cap on until you’re ready to shoot. Have some soft lint-free cloths available to wipe your lens with.
  • Using a lens hood will also help keep the raindrops off.
  • Here’s another idea: put your camera on a monopod and use a superclamp to fix an umbrella to it. It’s portable and because the camera isn’t inside anything it makes it easier to operate.
  • Keep your camera pointed down when you’re not using it to keep most of the raindrops off the lens.
  • Keep yourself dry too. Good waterproofs will have you singing in the rain.
  • If you’ve been out in the cold and are coming back into the warm, avoid condensation forming on your camera by placing it inside a sealable plastic bag (while you’re still outside) and squashing out most of the air. Then let it come back to room temperature. Humidity generally isn’t good for your camera if it persists for a long time. Make sure that it spends most of its time in a warm, light, dry place to discourage moulds and other nasties.
  • If the worst does happen and your camera gets a dowsing, there’s a great article on Shutterbug telling you what you need to do.  Print out a copy of it and keep it inside your camera bag. Use waterproof ink, of course 🙂