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Rainy Day Photography Tips

Some ideas to try when the heavens open

When the weather turns a little inclement, it can be easy to assume that it's time to put the camera away. However, if you get a little creative, there are plenty of things you can photograph if the weather threatens to spoil your day. Here are a few ideas to think about next time you see those pesky rain clouds gathering on the horizon.

We've split the guide into indoor and outdoor activities, so even if it's torrential and blowing a gale outside, you should find something to take your fancy worth pointing your lens at.

1. Rainy windows

This classic subject is the obvious choice when rain starts to pelt on the windows. The challenge is to get a shot that nobody else has got before - so get your creative thinking cap on.

Rain on a window looks particularly good when the background is interesting - if you're lucky that could be a view from your own window (those living in high rise flats might find the twinkling lights at twilight to offer up a good view).

Focus on the raindrops using a wide aperture to throw the background out of focus, which can generate a fantastic abstract look.

2. Still life at home

You may not have given it a second thought, but your home is a plethora of interesting subjects that would make for superb still life subjects.

Look for interesting and bold colours, as they will work particularly well. Some shapes ideas could include books, cutlery or flowers. Shoot against a backdrop, even as something as simple as a coloured piece of card, for a clean and professional look.

3. Self-portraits

One of the benefits of photographing yourself is that (in theory at least) you'll never get bored.

Using yourself as a subject is a great way to hone your portrait technique, and if the rain is pouring, indoor self-portraits are a great way to pass the time.

It’s handy if you have a camera with an articulating screen, so you can face it forward to help you frame. Alternatively, one which allows you to shoot remotely using your mobile phone is a great choice. Lots of cameras these days allow you to do just that, including the Canon EOS 6D Mark II.

4. Pet photography

Another subject who hopefully won't kick up too much fuss when you need something to photograph is your family pet. A rainy day is the perfect opportunity to try some indoor pet portraits.

Make sure you have plenty of treats, and try to capture your pet in their home environment. The “rules” for taking pet portraits are very similar to people portraits - focus on the eyes, and use prime lenses with a wide aperture to achieve a shallow depth of field effect.

5. Abstracts

This idea goes hand in hand with home still lifes, except this time you're not trying to make it obvious what the subject actually is.

Look for repeating patterns, interesting shapes and so on. Once you really start looking you might be surprised with how many subjects you can find around the house.

As part of a game, either for yourself or for the whole family, you could challenge yourself to find an abstract subject in every room - if you're playing as a family try and guess what the shots depict.

6. Food

It's not all that often that you get to photograph a subject with a tangible reward at the end - but you get just that when you point your lens at food.

All kinds of foodie creations make for great stay-at-home projects, but cold food, such as baked goods, give you better flexibility for taking your time over every shot.

A macro lens is a great investment if you think that food photography is something you could develop as a hobby. Also look out for props, such as pretty plates and tablecloths to use for your shots.

7. Puddles and reflections

Unless the rain is absolutely torrential, braving the elements can yield some interesting results.

Puddles can throw up some interesting reflections, especially near buildings and architecture. Get low to the ground for the most dynamic composition - in which case a camera with a tilting screen, such as the Nikon D850 can be really helpful.

8. Street photography

Rainy day weather can be good for capturing street candids. People using umbrellas, dashing for cover, and interesting reflections can all add to an overall ambience.

If you're planning to shoot in the rain, look for a camera which has weatherproofing, such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, or consider investing in a rain-cover.

9. Wildlife and nature photography

Again, you'll want to make sure you have a weatherproof camera, or waterproofing gear, if you're going to undertake wildlife and nature photography in the rain.

But, if you do, you'll find that you can often get some very interesting results that are sometimes more striking than fair-weather equivalents. Many animals display different and unusual behaviour during the rain - some even prefer it.

Plant and flower photography can also benefit from points of interest created by rain drops - in this case you'll probably want to shoot just after a rain shower has passed.

10. Make a photo book

A cold and rainy day is the perfect time to look through all of your existing photos, doing a little bit of organisation, and perhaps even ordering a print, gift or photobook.

We're more guilty than ever of letting our photos sit on our hard drive never to be seen again - a photo book is a fantastic way to make sure your memories are around for years to come.

What's more they're easy to make, with lots of paper, cover and layout options. For speed, you can autofill your book, but if you've got some spare time, spend a while controlling every page, adding your own captions and designing your own layouts. The choice is yours.

What do you like to photograph in the rain? Show us your best rainy-day shots via our social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.