4 Tips for Shooting Landscape Photography in the Rain

It sure has been raining a lot here in Kentucky lately! I’m not complaining though since it’s helped fuel my waterfall obsession. There’s one fact that I can’t escape, however… shooting in the rain can really suck!

Well, that is if you don’t know how to deal with the challenges the rain brings with it. Over the years I’ve come to spend more and more time shooting out in what some might call “bad weather”. There truly isn’t too much weather that I won’t get out and shoot in at this point (within reason, of course). Your ability to shoot in challenging conditions (and even enjoy it) all comes down to the knowledge you have.

So, with that being said, I’d like to share my 4 tips for getting out and shooting landscape photography in the rain. Let’s jump right in!

1. Have the Right Gear

A shameless selfie I took at about mile 7 of a 17-mile hike. It had been pouring rain the entire time. Since I had the right gear, however, it was actually a pretty fun experience!

The absolute most important thing you can do when working in the rain is to have the correct gear. Not only will the correct rain gear help make the conditions more tolerable to work in, but they will also prevent issues, such as hypothermia. Fun fact, you can get hypothermia on even warm days if you spend enough time in the rain!

What constitutes as correct gear, you ask? Well, here is a small list of items you might want to consider:

  • Rain Jacket
    • The rain jacket is the absolute most important piece of this puzzle. It’s going to keep the core of your body dry (and hence warmer)
  • Rain Pants
    • There are split opinions on rain pants. I personally don’t like them. I instead opt for lightweight, quick-drying hiking pants. There are some that swear by rain paints though. I will say that rain pants are going to go a long way in keeping your bottom half dry. My problem with them, however, is that I tend to sweat so much in them that I may as well just hike without them.
  • Waterproof Boots (or quick-drying shoes)
    • Wet feet suck. Not only is it uncomfortable to hike around with wet feet, but it can also lower your body temperature and cause nasty issues, like blisters. Waterproof boots or a good quick-drying shoe (something like a trail runner) can go a long way here!
  • Spare Change of Clothes
    • When you get back to your car (or camp) the last thing you want is to have to sit in wet clothes. Again, not only is it uncomfortable, but it’s a good way to end up hypothermic. There’s an easy solution to this though: just bring a spare, dry change of clothes. Problem solved!
  • Pack Cover
    • You do not want water soaking through your bag and into your gear! To prevent this, you can use a pack cover. Depending on your setup, you may also be able to use a trash bag as a pack liner. This method tends to not work out so well with purpose-built camera bags though.

2. Bring Plenty of Lens Cleaning Supplies

If you’re going to be shooting in a wet environment it’s pretty much impossible to avoid getting water drops on your lens at some point. This is a big issue since these water drops can really ruin an image! 

To combat this problem, I carry a lot of lens cleaning supplies with me in my pack. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the items I recommend having:

  • Lens Cloths
    • These things are great for wiping water off your lenses and cleaning off smudges.
  • Air Blower
    • Not only are these perfect for blowing the dust off your lens, but they also work great for blowing the water off the front element of your lenses.
  • Lens Wipes
    • Sometimes you will end up with smudges or dirt on your lens that is particularly stubborn. Alcohol lens wipes work great for these (they’re also indispensable for those of us who wear glasses!).

3. Carry an Umbrella

My buddy Brian captured this shot of me trying to balance my umbrella while photographing Creation Falls in Red River Gorge. He may have found it amusing, but it got the job done!

Now, before you judge me on this one, hear me out! 

I’m not suggesting that you carry an umbrella for the purpose of keeping yourself dry (though some people actually do carry an umbrella in the woods for this purpose). I’d personally find it way too difficult to try to hike with an umbrella. In fact, I think it would be downright impossible to use one with some of the bushwhacking I find myself doing!

The real reason I recommend carrying an umbrella is for when you’re ready to take a shot. Simply hold it over your camera (being careful not to get the umbrella in the top of your frame) and you’ve got instant shelter to keep your camera dry and keep the water off the front of your lens. 

This is a trick I learned from my buddy Chris Morris (who also runs the Kentucky Waterfall Database). 

4. Just Embrace It!

“When life throws you a rainy day, play in the puddles. ”

— Winnie The Pooh

This is the number 1 thing you can do to better enjoy shooting in the rain! 

If you approach the topic with disdain and look at it as you vs. mother nature, you’re going to have a bad time. Similarly, constantly focusing on the negative aspects of working in the rain is just going to make you miserable. 

Simply embrace the chaos that comes along with working out in the elements. Who knows, you might even enjoy it!

Your Turn? 

Well, there you have it, my 4 tips for shooting out in the rain. These are just a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years as I’ve constantly been shooting out in the elements more and more. 

I’d love to hear from you though! What are some tips you’ve come up with while shooting out in the rain? Share your feedback in the comments below!

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