Tuesday, October 26, 2010



I was a little worried to be shooting in the rain. My d700 is weather sealed, and even though prominent madmen use it inclement weather, I figured I might have a few problems. One, the little rubber door on the left that leads to the tethering and/or ports_I_never_use has gotten a little used with age and tends to pop up and can't be properly sealed. Also, I don't tend to use my uber-weather-sealed-if-you-should-encounter-God-on-the-road-he-will-be-cut-by-this-lens-it's-just-that-sharp lenses out on the street.

I mainly use my cheap-o Nikon 28mm f/2.8 and 35mm f/2. On the plus side, they're not zooms, so they wouldn't be sucking in rainwater. On the downside, they're a little plastic-y (particularly the 28), and I had visions of water dripping through some tiny seam I'd never seen. Still, they ARE pretty solid, so I just put on a lens hood (less sprinkling on the glass), and crossed my fingers.

I also carried a small umbrella with me, and put on a treated leather jacket. I didn't have galoshes, but I reasoned if they're anything like the oyster boots everybody wore where I grew up, they'd be a chore to walk around in.

Here's the deal: I didn't grow up in a city (where masses of people walk around in the rain for no good reason), and I've lived in California for the last ten years in suburbia. It turns out my wet weather survival skills have atrophied.

Here's what I discovered on my first day in the rain:
  • Carry the camera bag UNDER your jacket. Not perfect, but with something small like the Crumpler 5 million dollar home I use, it's totally possible. Keeping it outside my jacket resulted in an increasingly moist top to my bag, and eventually it made my lens cloth (which I keep at the top) a little damp.
  • Umbrellas with a little hand strap rock, since they're less likely to go flying and you get some use out of your off hand a little. I kept on shooting at 1/500s, so I could wing one handed shots for everything.
  • The small umbrella is portable, but expect stuff you carry not directly near your head to get wet.
  • Consequently, keep your camera near your eye (useful anyway, even if you look a little weird).
  • Crocs are great until you get in water deep enough for them to seep in.
  • Moving crowds of people in umbrellas are actually kind of a danger to your eye or something if you or they don't raise your umbrella at just the right moment.
  • People love to shake the water off umbrellas onto you. 
  • Everybody recommending storing your lenses in a bag with desiccant in order to keep moisture from building up. I didn't do this, but I don't keep desiccant on hand.
  • If you have to duck in somewhere to get warm/dry, the Apple Store might not be the best place if they just came out with a new netbook. "Boy, an 11' MBA might just overheat enough to warm me up right now..." Plus, all the cold and wind seem to lower willpower. ;) 
If I had it to do over again, a poncho over everything might help (particularly if it were warmer and I wanted to skip the jacket). There are also rain sleeves for the camera, but I didn't feel like I needed one, and they seemed like a lot of effort in order to make me less able to shoot in the middle of a swarm of umbrella-carrying people, so I skipped it.

Now, if I were seriously crazy, I would look into getting covering for a flash, so I could use that off camera in the rain. Seems like a good recipe for me frying my flash, but you never know...

I also picked up a fair amount of insight about how rain shows up in your images and what it does to the light -- but I think I'll save that for another post before this one gets too big.


  1. Great post! I was watching your Tweets over the weekend and wondered how you were managing. Thanks for spelling out your process.

    And, kick-ass photo! I love the grain and blurred rain drops.

  2. Thanks -- I found that more grainy shots worked well in the rain in general. Which is a good thing, since I frequently was shooting at iso 4000-6400 to get the shutter speeds I needed.

  3. Cool photo! Heh, I wimped out when it really started raining. Nice that you were prepared and have cam that's sealed!