Shooting Rain

– How can I shoot rain?

– Adjust shutter speed to convert rain drops to lines!

Shooting in rain is challenging, mainly because of possible gear damage due to wet environment. Also, lightness and contrast are not great in cloudy sky that make it hard to get bright and sharp images. However, every moment of life is worthy to be captured, because of its uniqueness. So, there is no excuses to not to shoot rain! Lets back to the subject, shooting rain! As we discussed before, the most important thing about moving objects is their speed. As the object moves faster, your camera shutter speed has to be faster to freeze it, or you will end up with a blurry object. Rain drops are liquid objects fall from the clouds and if we freeze them by fast enough shutter speed, small pixels of water will be appeared in photo. If you try it out, you will find out that the result is nothing but a noisy image. So, how to capture real rain? It’s simple, slow down shutter speed to convert falling drops to small lines of water. This will help you to show rain in photo the same as we see it by our eyes.

Gloomy Sky (Canon EOS 450D, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, ISO 200, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS @ 55 mm)

Image story: Malaysian rain is really awesome. True tropical rain that makes you get wet in a few seconds. I took this photo in a rainy afternoon from the balcony of my apartment in level 5. So, there was no problem of getting wet and the height was enough to provide a great view. I used 1/160 sec shutter speed to make small rain lines from fast falling drops of rain. A little post processing made the rain lines clearer and easier to see.

In addition to adjusting shutter speed, there are some other tips that may help you to get better results. Using a tripod may help you to avoid blurry images, since you are slowing down shutter speed based on rain speed. Remember to not to fire flash, because the light will be reflected in water drops and you will get noisy image as a result. If you need more light, lower flash power and use deffuser to reduce the reflection. Adjusting f-stop is based on your desired depth of filed, so do it wisely. Last but not least is that focusing on a near object makes you able to capture nearer rain drops that are seen clearer and brighter.

– Roohollah

Shooting Lightning

– How can I shoot lightning?

– Set your camera and spend plenty of time!

Lightning is beautiful for some people and horrific for some others. I personally like it a lot! Specially, when it has strong voice and bright light.  To shoot lightning, you should be fully prepared. It means that you cannot shoot it only by chance, unlike what it seems.

Shooting lightning is fun (Canon EOS 450D, f/7.1, 14 sec, Canon EF-S 18-55 @ 28 mm, ISO 100)

Image story: I shoot this lightning in Malaysia. lightning is powerful, strong, and frequent there, so your chance to shoot one is high. In a rainy night, I decided to do some lightning photography. After some observation, I found an area with higher lightning occurrence and mounted my camera on my tripod aimed at that area. The setting was f/7.1, Canon EF-S 18-55 @ 28 mm, ISO 100, and bulb shutter for this shot. I was lucky to catch this lightning after 14 sec.

Some initial parameters that you should be aware of are the safety of yourself and your camera, suitable lens, focus, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and composition.

Your safety: You should be always aware of lightning hazard and do not put yourself in danger of hitting by one.

Your camera safety: If you are not a fan of water damaged camera and lens, you should set up your camera on a reliable tripod and cover it with plastic if there is a chance of getting wet.

Suitable lens: Before starting to shoot the scene, you should find an area with high chance of lightning. Since finding the exact area is not easy, you should use a wide lens on your camera to increase your chance of shooting lightning. So, a wide lens is an advantage.

Focus: You don’t probably believe that setting camera on auto focus would be the best idea when you shoot lightning! I agree with you!  Set focus on manual and focus on the nearest object to the lightning area (for example the tallest building that you saw lightning hit it many times) or simply set the focus on infinity.

Aperture: Shooting lightning is usually almost the same as shooting landscape in terms of depth of field. You need a great depth of field, so set the aperture on 7, 8 , or higher based on the distance between lightning and other objects in landscape.

Shutter speed: A big difference between landscape photography and shooting lightning is the shutter speed. Although you don’t need long exposure time to capture an strong light source like lightning bolt, you still need to use long shutter speed or bulb mode to trap one or more lightnings in your image. Since you don’t know when it comes, you need to shoot in bulb mode till you get your required result or set the shutter speed on 5, 6 or more seconds and continue shooting till you trap lightnings in one of the intervals. It means that you need to be patient and shoot consistently. Otherwise, you may loose the greatest lightning when your’e upset of shooting for several minutes. You may use a remote control if you don’t want to get tired soon.

ISO: High ISO numbers cause color dot noises in your image. If you like to avoid them, try lower ISO numbers and don’t be worry about the light source because it is strong enough to glow in your image. However, if you find that lightning bolts are not bright enough in your images, you may increase the ISO.

Composition: You may not see what exists in the field due to darkness. However, unwanted objects may popup after glowing of lightning. So, if your initial composition does not satisfy you, change the composition and wait for the next lightning.

– Roohollah

Light is the Key

– What is the key parameter in photography?

– The answer is “light”, no doubt!

Light is the key. So, check the light source(s) every time you decide to take a photo. look around carefully and select your position and point of view based on the light source and direction.

Be smart in using the light source
Be smart in using the light source (Canon EOS 450D, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, Canon EF-S 18-55 @ 44 mm, ISO 100)

Image story: I captured this image of my roommate, in a rainy day. The inside was darker than the outside and I decided to use the sky light as the background of the image. So, I selected a down angle as my point of view and shoot him  in front of balcony.

– Roohollah