When The Rain Falls

As most of you might not know, I am also a breakdancer and part of a crew named Riot Kings in the Philippines. One night while we were having a jam, it started pouring and raining really hard. Then we had a crazy idea of doing a shoot in the rain. It’s one of those idea that you just fantasize about but never actually do it. But for me, I already had all my gear in my car and it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. In return, this was probably the most spontaneous photo shoot I’ve ever had and the result of that was unexpectedly great. Sometimes, you really have to go out of your way for a great photo.

Dancers are great to work with because they can create so many different forms with their bodies. I have found that the best angle when shooting dancers is low angle.

Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50 mm f/1.4, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/1.8

Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50 mm f/1.4, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/1.8

It was quite a challenge because there were so many variables involved, but since it wasn’t for a client, I had a lot of room to experiment. There were two main variables that I had to take account of: very low light and the rain. When you have numerous variables to consider, it is best to solve them one by one before you take the photo. The best way to solve them is to have a goal and vision of what you want your photograph to look like. However, in most cases, preparation will only take you so far. As a photographer, you have to be adaptable and ready for anything. For this shoot, I wanted to freeze the motion of both the dancer and the rain drops.

Tips for shooting in the rain:

A lot of amateur photographs such as myself are scared to shoot in the rain because they are worried about their gear. However, there are a lot of ways to make sure that your gear stays safe and dry. Also, because of that same fear, you can take that photo that most people are not daring enough to take. These are some easy steps on keeping your gear safe.

For your camera: You don’t need an expensive underwater casing to shoot in the rain. I found this cheap re-usable rainsleeve that fits the camera perfectly at Amazon. Even when you get one of these, use your lens hood if you have one to make sure rain doesn’t get on the front of your lens.

For your strobe: I covered the body of my strobe with a plastic bag to make sure it doesn’t get wet. However, I could not protect the soft box with plastic. Therefore, I placed an umbrella on top of the unit to make sure it doesn’t get wet. If there’s a lot of wind, ask a friend or an assistant to hold the umbrella and to hold the unit as well.

For your models: Have assistants and an umbrella. It takes awhile to set up the shoot. Make sure that your models stay dry.

Lighting Setup:

As most of you will know, to stop motion you need a high shutter speed. If you’re using a high shutter, you either need a lot of light or a wide aperture or increase ISO. I tend to not think about ISO as a variable because I like keeping it as low as possible to decrease noise. During the night, in low light conditions and using a high shutter speed, even a wide aperture and a high ISO will not produce a good image. You will also not be able to freeze raindrops as effectively as they are reflecting minimal light. Therefore, I decided to focus on light and aperture as the main variables.

Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50 mm f/1.4, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/1.8

Camera: Nikon D800, Lens: 50 mm f/1.4, Shutter Speed: 1/320, Aperture: f/1.8

I used a shallow depth of field to isolate the model from the background, as it blurs everything else. It also enables me to use a higher shutter speed as it allows more ambiant light, which adds more rain drops to the photo.

This is the lighting setup I used to create these shots.

When The Rain Falls Lighting Setup

When The Rain Falls Lighting Setup

I decided to use my car and turn on it’s headlights because it adds a rim light effect (a thin halo creating a contour) on the model and on the rain drops. Not only that but it adds another visual element to the scene, rather than a black background. Be resourceful. Anything that can emit or reflect light can be used as a light source.

More photos from the series:

I edited these photos mainly using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom 4. I also used Portrait Professional Studio for retouching. If you have more questions on how I produced these images, feel free to comment here or post on my wall on facebook.

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