Use the Onboard Flash to Photograph Rain

 

This article was originally published in July 2014.

Rain can look peaceful and romantic, but with some ingenious use of technique and lighting, it can be made to look surreal and mysterious, as well. If you are wondering how this can be done, let’s first warn you that this breaks most conventions that you may have learnt so far.

Light Up Those Raindrops!
The flash helps illuminate the raindrops, and depending on the power of the flash and the choice of WB/flash gel, they will either look like blown out blobs or like white or yellow patterns.

Not Just the Raindrops
A photograph of flash-illuminated white streaks of rain becomes more interesting when there is more activity happening in the frame. So first think of an interesting enough moment and composition, not just the technique and its look. Without an effective setting and activity in the background, the technique may come across looking gimmicky.

The right combination of flash power and shutterspeed will help you decide the right ratio between the ambient light and the flash light that pierces through the raindrops. Photograph/ Raj Lalwani

The right combination of flash power and shutterspeed will help you decide the right ratio between the ambient light and the flash light that pierces through the raindrops. Photograph/Raj Lalwani

Where to Focus
The frame can be a long winding road that disappears into the distance or it can be a bunch of people enjoying the rain. Set a wide aperture and then use either AF or manual focus and ensure that the background activity is in focus. What this will do, is that any raindrops near your lens will be thrown out of focus. Now, once the flash lights them up, they will appear like foreground bokeh.

Choice of Camera Settings
Your choice of ISO and shutterspeed are crucial as well. Increasing the ISO makes the flash stronger.

A slower shutterspeed will allow more ambient light to enter. Too slow a shutterspeed (1/8sec or slower) may actually show the movement of the drop falling, which can look good at times, but this may involve a lot of trial and error.

Tags: ask the expert, Flash photography, how to, monsoon photography, Question of the Day