Being caught in a rainstorm sucks, but it sucks even worse when you are rocking a camera and a lens or two. However, rain can also greatly enhance a scene by providing some added interest. Let’s look at how a bit of planning can help making some water falling from the sky more bearable.
First up is protecting the camera, which there are a few ways to do. The cheapest solution is to wrap the camera in plastic grocery bags. Just place the camera at the bottom of two or three bags and you have a makeshift water housing that is somewhat water resistant. Of course, there are better options like underwater camera housings. These provide the best protection from precipitation while providing full access to camera controls. The downfall here is that to do even the simplest thing like changing a memory card, removing the housing becomes a necessity. Lastly, there is always the option of snagging a waterproof camera like the Panasonic Lumix TS3.
Next is the lens. While most lenses are weather sealed, the front glass needs protection from water droplets. This is where a lens hood comes into play. Not only will it help with any surprises from the sun sneaking out, but it also acts as a barrier between glass and raindrops. This will also help the auto-focus system work without trying to focus on whatever is running down the front element.
Now if you are like me, you travel with a camera bag full of extra gear. Protecting that bag is also important. This is where a bag like the Lowepro Classified Sling 220 AW comes in handy. It not only has enough room for the gear I use on a day trip, but it also has an all weather cover that wraps around the whole bag, thus making it water resistant. A cheaper option is to buy a poncho and use that to wrap around the camera bag, which may not look pretty but it works in a pinch.
Finally, why not switch to a monopod instead of a tripod. Manfrotto makes a wide selection of monopods, some of which can open up to act as a makeshift tripod when necessary. The key here is that going with one leg instead of three will speed up setup times while still providing some camera stability. They can even function as a walking stick!
While we cannot control Mother Nature, we can work with what she doles out. Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean any planned photo trips need to end. With a bit of preplanning, a little moisture falling from the sky becomes a non-issue.