Tips for Wildlife Photography in the Rain

Adverse weather conditions can make shooting more difficult, but can also yield more interesting and attractive images. Here are some tips for photographing wildlife in the rain.

I'm undoubtedly a pluviophile, which is defined as someone who loves rain and finds joy and peace of mind in it. Nothing makes me happier than writing or photographing in the rain, and by chance, it's stormy and raining as I write this from a room in England. My enjoyment of writing during heavy rain is purely auditory; I find the sounds calming and during stressful periods of my life, I'll listen to rain sounds to fall asleep. However, from a photography standpoint, my love is the visual atmosphere.

There are of course a number of challenges with photographing when it's raining. The most obvious is keeping your equipment dry. While many cameras are weather-sealed, you don't want to test their effectiveness at it particularly. In Iceland, I shot several days during really poor weather, and the way I dealt with that was to use rain covers whenever I couldn't shoot from the comfort of the rental car.

One tip I'd like to add — which is touched on in this video — is the lack of contrast in poor weather. With so much in the air, shots will often look washed out. If you're photographing wildlife, the temptation is to bring the contrast back in post, and you should to some degree. But one way I've had success is to bring the contrast back up about halfway, then use localized contrast on the subject to make them pop.

Do you go out with your camera in the rain? 

Rob Baggs's picture

Robert K Baggs is a professional portrait and commercial photographer, educator, and consultant from England. Robert has a First-Class degree in Philosophy and a Master's by Research. In 2015 Robert's work on plagiarism in photography was published as part of several universities' photography degree syllabuses.

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Thanks for featuring us, Robert!

20,000$+ gear, stacking 10+ raws together in post-processing and merging them into something else. Photos taken while sitting at home and comfy and all and then shooting out of the window when it rains. This is without a doubt what I call true "wildlife" photography in the rain. And I was not even annoyed by the continuous self-marketing of your great books that are 25% off for a limited time (infinity?), Tony. Looking forward to your next video. Send your wife my best regards and tell her, she should have stayed with her obsolete D850.

His ideas about getting the rain into the picture are sound. And doing it the way he shows - by selectively merging 10 photos - works. He gets a nice result that people will like.

But it seems sort of disheartening, the way it takes the "wild" out of wildlife photography. The intense Photoshopping raises the bar for bird photography higher and higher. I feel like: gee, now I have to do all that the next time I shoot a bird in a snowstorm.

I guess that's just reality. And I'm not calling it fake - he's combining several moments in time, it's all real.

I use PS Elements and it doesn't have the whiz-bang auto-aligning features of PS.

So he suggests just wait at home until "wild"life comes to you? The video seems to be more about how to postprocess images than photography under the rain.

I sit on my deck from time to time, camera in hand, waiting for wildlife to come to me and have gotten some very nice bird shots. The birds were every bit as wild as the birds I'd see when I walked the woods. ;-)