Tips for Shooting in Rain and Bad Weather

The Empire State Building is Being Swallowed

A rainy day may ruin your motivation to go out and shoot, but it shouldn’t necessarily ruin your camera and picture taking abilities. Even if your camera isn’t waterproof, weatherproof or weather-sealed there are still ways that you can go out into the rain and shoot to your heart’s desire. In truth, you can capture some gorgeous scenes while you’re out in the rain.

Keep the Camera Under Your Coat/Hoodie

Times Square in the rain

If you’re going out in the rain, chances are that you’re going to wear a hoodie or coat of some sort in order to keep your clothes from getting wet. In that case, you can surely keep your point-and-shoot, micro four-thirds or DSLR under your hoodie. Whenever you’re ready to shoot, just take the camera out and quickly take the shot in order to prevent excessive amounts of rain/snow from getting into the camera. For fastest results, shoot in program or aperture modes. For the results you want, it should go without say to shoot in manual.

This works great if you’ve got a DSLR and you’re wearing a hoodie. Just place your hood over your head and bring the camera in as close to your face as possible when shooting. The hood will act as a cover for your camera while you shoot. Your lens will protrude but your lens will be able to withstand the rain to a certain point.

That’s exactly how the above photo was taken using my Olympus E-510 on a rainy night out with friends around the Times Square area.

I always try to pack as light as I can when shooting, so as an alternative what you can do is take your hoodie off and wrap it around the camera. This obviously means that you will get wet, but if you’d rather you being soaked over having to replace your camera then this is a good option.

The first photo in this article was captured that way while out in NYC one night with friends and I saw the above scene. It was cloudy, raining and the Empire State Building looked like it was being swallowed by the clouds. This photo was taken while standing in the middle of Park Ave. South. (Be careful while doing something like that.)

Make a DIY Rain Cover With a Plastic Bag

Of course, there is always the old school method of doing this too. This involves using a plastic shopping bag or freezer bag, cutting a hole through it for your lens and placing it over your camera. It provides plenty of protection for your camera but can be tedious to use. If you’ve got a point-and-shoot, it may be hard to see the LCD as well. As for DSLR users, let’s just say that you’ll have a much easier time changing your settings without the bag.

Additionally, if your camera bag doesn’t have a rain cover, consider keeping a plastic garbage bag in a pouch or pocket.  If you get caught out in a down pour, you can drop the entire camera bag into your “DIY rain cover” while you make your way to a dry area.

Shoot From Cover

Justin Long on the Streets of NYC

If the subject you need to capture is out in bad weather, you need to learn how to go out and shoot in rain or shine. One method you can use while keeping your discreteness is shooting from cover. I was a few feet away from actor Justin Long when I shot this photo using my Canon 5D Mk II with 24-105mm F4L IS.

Cover can be the awning of a local deli, a nice bushy tree, scaffolding, from under a sea of umbrellas, your car, etc. It will greatly aid you because you can concentrate more on getting the shot.

Don’t Be Too Timid, Your Camera May Be Tougher Than You Think

Your camera won’t melt at the first sign of moisture or inclement weather.  While you should not go asking for trouble by taking your non-weatherproof camera out for a couple of hours in a monsoon or under a waterfall like Massimo did ;-), it’s unlikely that a few rain drops or snow flakes will kill it.

Don’t panic at the first sign of bad weather.  Just use some common sense and minimize your camera’s exposure to the elements.

What tips do you have to share for shooting in bad weather?



  1. says

    Rainy day shouldn’t ruin the motivation to go out and shoot. On the contrary, it allows for those who enjoy street photography (or nature, come to think of it) to take their usual shots, in a whole different ‘environment’.
    As for me, I use the good ol’ plastic bag and a rubber band to hold it to a lens.
    This photo was taken during light rain –

  2. Kim Bentsen says

    Use a 1-series camera and forget about the plastic bag. Some of canons lenses require a filter in front to complete the seal against rain. The 16-35/2.8 is one of them. Basically any lens which moves the front lens when focusing or zooming.

  3. Vincent says

    Expanding on the DIY bag cover, if you are worried about your lens enough to not do the above, what I can suggest is taking a big plastic bag(Like the ones u find in Target), cut a hole, and place your camera inside the bag. Now what you want to do is take a rubber band, and only place the lens hood, or you UV Lens Cover out side of the bag. Then finally wrap the rubber band around the bag/lens and you are set.

    I find this to be better because I for one would not want to expose my lens to insane amounts of rain, but if I am forced to atleast I can still zoom/focus and keep everything dry.

  4. says

    I’d just like to add that on camera strobe can cause problems in the rain. Flash isn’t verboten, but you have to get creative with it. Otherwise you end up with bright little catch lights creating a veil between you and your subject.

  5. riverwalkerr says

    Camera Armour for our Canons is a must in Michingan”s UP where we have 2 seasons; the 4th of July and winter….large brimmed hats work in some situations. Out today shootin waterfalls in rain and snow… dry with towel and bring to heat slowly to reduce condesation. In cases where moisture has accumlated under the Armour. I remove it and let every part dry. turn off the camera and remove the battery………ready to go for next time…extreme temperature changes a plastic freezer bag will reduce moisture formation inside components.


  6. gaz says

    i have a stiff clear plastic bag covering the camera when its raining or snowing but i was still having trouble with rain,snow and water spray from waterfalls on the filter,as a quick fix i converted a 2 litre cola bottle to fit over the lens which protects the lens and reduces the amount of shots spoiled by spray etc.hope this quick easy fix helps someone.