Photographing in the rain

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan Leave a Comment

On Safari, rain is often seen as a “sleep in” or “stay at camp” time, however, this could be when you create your most dramatic and rewarding images.

On a recent safari to the Serengeti, we had THAT moment…

It is the rainy season in the Serengeti and thunderstorms were building up every day.  We would have showers so big that finding the roads proved to be a challenge.

On our last afternoon at Ndutu we found a Lioness, casually going about her business as Lions do.  We noticed a big storm building to the east.  Instead of heading home or looking for something else, we decided to stay put, and hope the rains come our way…

Whilst waiting for the storm to approach, we went over settings with our guests, what shutter speeds to use to achieve what results.  Before we realised the heavens opened…  It was chaos!!  Between trying to get the roof down, getting the windows open, grabbing camera’s, shouting out to keep focus on the Lioness as the camera tries to track her between the raindrops, we managed to capture a few images before our guide advised us its best to move on before we get stuck.

1/400 F5  ISO 400 E/V -2/3

1/125  F10 ISO 400  E/V -2/3

1/200  F11 ISO 400  E/V -1

1/80  F20  ISO 250  E/V -2/3

Arriving back at camp, albeit soaked, the excitement from all our guests about the images they have created was contagious, and made for some great conversations around the dinner table.

A Few things when Photographing wildlife in the rain:

  • Don’t worry about your lens!  Your camera gear is water resistant and if you are photographing for a few minutes in heavy rain, dry it afterwards and all will be fine (using some common sense).
  • Wherever possible, look for a nice dark background.  Whether it be a line of trees, a mountain etc. this will help the rain drops stand out a bit more.
  • Fast shutter speeds 1/800 and upwards will highlight more individual drops (depending on how hard it rains) where slower shutter speeds 1/200 and less will give you a more streaky affect.  Remember at these slow shutter speeds to use some form of support, either a tripod or beanbag etc.
  • Your camera will struggle for focus in heavy rain as it picks up the raindrops, DON’T GIVE UP, keep trying.  Manual focus is also an option in this case.

So next time when it rains, don’t stay at the lodge, see it as an opportunity to create something unique.

I truly believe this is what sets us apart from everyone else, no matter the conditions, we create photographic opportunities to our clients, which is why you on safari in the first place isn’t it?

Till next, keep creating beautiful and unique images.


About the Author

Johan van Zyl


The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

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