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  • Writer's pictureJefferson Graham

How to get great photos in the rain

The latest Photowalk is a little different–it’s a #Photowalk in the rain.

Because let’s face it, Los Angeles looks better wet than dry, right? And it’s not always going to be beautiful and sunny outside. (Despite what the song says about it never raining in Southern California.)

Sometimes it actually does rain and we can get some pretty cool shots.

Photowalk Los Angeles

#Photowalk Los Angeles, scenes from a rare day in the rain, in Venice Beach.

What do I like about “Snapping in the Rain?”

I’m no Gene Kelly, but let’s start with those beautiful reflections that you only get during a rain, the flowing water and mist on buildings.

Photowalk Los Angeles

The Manhattan Beach Pier in the rain. Part of the #Photowalk Los Angeles, “Snapping in the Rain:” series, by Jefferson Graham

I like seeing people react to the rain, and of course, the iconic umbrella shot. What’s your favorite wet image?

Photowalk Lols Angeles

The Hollywood Walk of Fame, in all its reflective glory, in the rain. Part of the #Photowalk Los Angeles series.

Tips for getting great shots in the rain:

Photowalk Los Angeles

Reach for the umbrella

This sounds so obvious, but admit it–you didn’t think of it. Most don’t. But an umbrella can really come in handy, and protect you and your gear. Just hold the umbrella with one hand, the camera in the other, and you’re golden.

How to take great photos in the rain

Get a camera covering

Amazon sells many of them, plastic jobs that go over the delicate and non-waterproof camera and lens and let you shoot in the natural outdoors, water be damned. If you didn’t get around to ordering one, go grab a garbage bag from the kitchen, cut a hole in it, and stick the lens through.

Photowalk Los Angeles

Stand under an alcove

An awning, alcove, any type of shelter to provide you cover and keep your camera dry. It’s easier said than done–in an aggressive rainfall, mist and drops can show up on your camera. Get the camera wet, and you could have one expensive trip to the repair shop. This one is the least effective.

Shoot from the car and stay dry

Shoot from the car

Roll down the window, focus from inside the car and shoot away. The most effective method for the traditional camera, granted that you can compose the shot properly this way.

Photowalk Los Angeles

Our best tip: use a current smartphone and go crazy.

Current models of smartphones are water resistant. Manufacturers dare you to drop them in a glass of water. I used the iPhone 8 Plus, XS Max and Google Pixel 3 for this video/photo shoot, and they were liberating. I had nothing to worry about while “Snapping in the Rain.” I ran into a fountain and pushed the camera into the water; I held the camera up to the skies and let the rainfall drop all over the phones, without any issues, and got terrific footage and stills to boot. I would recommend going the smartphone route in the rain over the traditional camera, even though my camera shots were sharper. I had total freedom with the smartphone; with the camera, I was locked to the cumbersome baggie over the body.

However, there’s one big issue to be aware of. The touchscreens of the phones are not as responsive when they get wet. You’ll need to have a towel or cloth to dry off your hands and the front of the smart phone for successful navigation.

Photowalk Los Angeles

FYI: 24 of the 36 images displayed here on my SmugMug blog were snapped on a smartphone, the iPhones XS Max and 8 Plus and the Google Pixel 3. The shot below was taken on the Google Pixel.

Photowalk Los Angeles

Water drops at Walt Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles, with Los Angeles City Hall behind it. Part of the #Photowalks Los Angeles series by Jefferson Graham

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