What to Do on a Rainy Day?

Even though this weekend is predicted to be the best weekend of the year here in Seattle, the Pacific Northwest is ever changing and it shouldn’t be long until things change.

Rainy days are some of my absolute favorite days to photograph.  Sure it would be a lot easier to shoot through fog to create that soft mysterious air to your images,  but fog is unpredictable and typically rather temporary lasting only for an hour or so in the early morning. However rain in the Pacific Northwest is both predictable and persistent.

People are often surprised that I don’t run outside with my camera on a beautiful blue sky day. The clouds on an overcast day act like a huge softbox to soften the light, reduce contrast, and open up the shadows to details that would be completely lost on a bright sunny day. Falling rain diffuses and evens out the light even more. Some of my favorite images have been captured on gray rainy days.

You’ll need to check your lens frequently for spots but with a little care you can use the rain to your advantage. Use a tripod, polarizer, small aperture and long shutter speed to keep from recording individual falling drops of rain and maximize atmospheric softening. Additionally, the polarizer removes the shine from foliage for the richest colors possible. It’s rare that I don’t have a polarizer on the front of my lens.  With standing water in your frame the falling rain will ripple the surface.  The long shutter speed will blur movement the same way a waterfall can be rendered as a soft ethereal white drape over rocks.

mountain ridge