Me. Shooting in the driving rain in Iceland. Cold. Wet. Deliriously happy.
I’ve never shot in the rain, drizzle, dew, fog, and general “water coming out of the sky in every possible form” as much as I did in Iceland the last couple weeks. There were days my boots were so wet I thought they’d never recover – they were soaked right through, and they’re the expensive GoreTex ones. But as wet and, at times, miserable as I was, there were also times I could have stayed out for hours. See the shot above? Wetter than I’ve ever been outside of a lake or swimming pool, but I was shooting images I was excited about, one which particularly captivates me, and if I’d not got out of the truck, thrown my rain gear on and braved the elements, I’d still be dry and wouldn’t have those images. I didn’t go to Iceland to be dry, but to make photographs.
No one likes shooting in the rain. OK, some do, but they’re unreasonable and suspicious. I’m closer to the “I might have rabies, that’s how much I dislike water” end of the spectrum. But I’d rather make beautiful photographs than stay dry and since the worst weather makes for some amazing environments to make beautiful images, we can either suck it up or find a way to tolerate it.
Worried about shooting in the rain? Scared your $3000 camera will die the moment the first drop of water hits it? It’s a genuine concern, but most cameras these days are pretty resilient. The only failures I’ve had have happened out of the blue on a sunny day, not when covered in water, so statistically I’m probably better shooting in the rain. So my first recommendation is this – stop freaking out about it. Bring a small towel or bandana and wipe the camera off as you can. I use Buffs, a brandname bandana/tube thingy that you can wear on your head (but I put them on my cameras). Protects from elements like dust and rain, comes off fast, and dries the water nicely. I always have one or two of these. Very handy.
I carry a small trekking umbrella in my bag, and that’s come very much in handy for keeping the rain of the lens while shooting, as has the pocket of large lens cloths I always carry. The big worry for me is not my camera dying – because it hasn’t yet – it’s the worry that I’ll get a great photograph only to later notice big rain drops on the lens are noticeable in the image.
I also carry a Think Tank Photo Hydrophobia – and while it’s meant for a camera with a 70-200 lens, it works well with some fussing around for almost any lens shorter than that as well, and while I loathe rain covers, this is the best one I’ve found, far better than the fussy, pain in the butt Kata one I also own and never use. Make sure your camera bag has a good rain cover too – all the Think Tank Photo bags come with one, and my Kiboko bag also has a built in cover as well.
Lastly, a pair of good rain pants and a good rain jacket. Well, I thought they were good until I spent so much time in the driving rain. Now I’m thinking a yellow rubber rain slicker, pants, and wellington boots wouldn’t be such a bad idea. if you wear glasses, a baseball hat works well to keep the drizzle of the lenses in a light drizzle. If the wind picks up, ain’t nothing keeping those specs dry.
Don’t be reckless with your gear, but if you’re wanting to get out and shoot in some really great light and weather, there’s more mood on a rainy day than ten sunny days put together. Stop freaking out, bring an umbrella, put a bag over the camera if you have to, but my tactic for shooting in the rain is to stop fussing, keep the lens dry, and wipe the camera when I can, and go make some photographs.