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Shooting a wedding in the rain

edited September 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum

I was invited to go as a second shooter on a wedding this weekend. The forecast (thanks to this tropical depression) is calling for overcast and rain! Unfortunately the weather has been very hot and sunny and we haven't had a lot of overcast or rainy days. What do you do to protect your camera from the rain? For an evening wedding, say 5-8 (outdoors), with overcast rainy conditions, what recommendations, settings or advice do you have? Thank you!


  • edited September 2016
    About the only thing you can do for rain, other than an umbrella, is to put the camera in a plastic bag. Sometimes you can use a big zip lock bag, and cut a hole for the lens to shoot through, but if you're using any of the kit lenses or other lenses that do not focus internally, make sure that you allow the lens to rotate. If you have an IF lens you can hold the bag in place with a rubber band. Otherwise, keep it loose, and when at all possible, take it off for shots. If it's pouring, you'll be handicapped, but then again, if it's pouring, an outdoor event will be pretty heavily compromised all around.

    Otherwise, you can wear a coat under which you tuck the camera between shots. The D3200 and its usual lenses are not weather sealed, but can stand a few rain drops. Carry some paper towel or the like, and dedicated lens paper in case any rain hits the front of the lens. Don't change lenses in the rain if you can help it. If you tuck your camera into a coat, check the settings when you take it out, as it's easy to change things accidentally. Double check the top exposure mode control, and recenter the focus point (with the back [OK] button). Just the other day, I was touring in Alaska, protecting my camera from rain and boat spray at a glacier. The glacier calved dramatically, and I whipped out my camera to take the event. It had switched accidentally from A to M, I forgot to check, and all my shots were overexposed by about 3 stops. I salvaged them somewhat, but the highlights are blown. Shame on me! (note: View NX2 allows two stops of compensation in each direction. Nikon's also free Capture NX-D, which has some features that are better and some which are not, allows up to 5 either way! A shot that is 5 stops off is pretty well toast, but you can do it.)

    For exposure, overcast usually causes little issue, but if it is very bright and overcast, you might find you need to underexpose a little. You probably won't have this problem if it's late, and your main challenge will be to get enough light. Keep the aperture as wide as you can when you're shooting individuals and don't need a lot of depth of field. Try to avoid multi-point focus, as this may choose the wrong subject in a crowd. Your best bet is probably single point single servo, which will allow you to focus on a specific point and then recompose. If you do this, make sure that the focus confirmation "beep" is turned off.

    Experiment now on hand holding and ISO, so that you know what you can do in terms of camera steadiness with low shutter speeds, and what ISO you find satisfactory with relation to noise. You may need slow shutter speeds that will result in blur when the subjects move, so try for moments when they do not, and take lots of pictures, more than you think necessary. To stop motion may require higher ISO than is comfortable. Usually shots of people will be pretty acceptable even at an ISO up to 1600 or even 3200, and no problem at all at 400. Dark backgrounds will start to show graininess above 400. In general, though, a good grainy shot beats a blur, so do what you need.

    If you can, shoot in Raw mode, so that you can adjust white balance and exposure in post processing. If the light is variable, Auto WB works pretty well, but it can still be good to adjust it a little, as it tends to be a bit cool in overcast light. You can vary it in a Raw file without harming the original in View NX2 and other such programs. A warmer light will often make muted colors pop a bit better without having to mess with color settings. Some people like lots of color saturation, a habit I do not share, and I generally use the Normal picture mode. You can make it more vivid in post as needed.

    If you shoot Raw you can change Picture Modes, and for some shots you may find that Monochrome not only makes for a nice change, but can salvage shots in which the background has too much distracting color or the color itself is just hard to manipulate to your liking. Wedding couples in traditional white dress and dark suit often look very nice in B&W, and losing the extraneous color can shift your concentration to the couple rather than the surrounding, as well as giving a nice kind of traditional look to the shot.
  • edited September 2016
    I should add (separate post for legibility) that there are some fairly cheap rain covers made for cameras, which are basically custom fitted plastic bags. Check out B&H for some examples. You can get some of these pretty cheaply, and they have a properly made hole for the lens, and a handier shape for getting at the camera controls. Some may have a transparent plastic window through which to shoot without opening the lens to the rain. Probably too late for this weekend unless you have a camera store handy, but for anyone facing this situation with time to spare, check out what's available at places like B&H.
  • Thanks for the help. I will try the plastic bag and umbrellas as I don't think I'll get anything shipped prior to the event. Also I attended my cousins wedding a few months ago and she uploaded her photos recently. There were several that were done and I was wondering if you could help me with best "guestimate" on settings for photos that were taken in the dark and rain where it was as if they were illuminated. I believe the photographer had some kind of backlight shining on them. I wish I could upload the photos!
  • edited September 2016
    It's possible that they were backlit by lights, candles or the like. If the photos were done by a professional wedding photographer, there are all sorts of tricks they can apply to get the lighting they need.

    Most wedding photographers will have a pretty sophisticated flash or strobe, far enough from the default location on the camera so that they don't get harsh shadows and red eye. They can thus backlight a subject and still use a fill flash to brighten a face that would otherwise be dark. If you use the on camera flash you will be limited greatly but a little bit of fill flash might be useful. Again, I'd recommend that you try some of this before the event. See if you can get a cooperative subject to stand in a darkish place, and shoot with fill flash, and lower the fill flash compensation as needed so you just brighten dark faces a little without washing out and creating shadows. Watch out for backgrounds close to the subject, which will hold the shadow. An on camera flash is more useable when the subject is well ahead of the background. That also will make the background darker relative to the subject.

    In P, S, A and M modes, the on camera flash defaults to fill if your exposure is near to what it should be without flash. So meter without the flash, then pop it up, and see if you can get it to behave. Slow sync is also a possibility. In this case, the camera uses the non-flash exposure values, takes the picture, and then adds a little flash. It's what you would use if you want the maximum of ambient light along with your fill, but a subject will not stand out from the background as much.

    There is no on site photo hosting here, but if you can find another site to link to, that's one way of doing it. I use a free drop box site called "Jumpshare," which shrinks big photos and loses the EXIF information in the process, but makes a pretty decent way to view. You can upload your pictures to a site like this, and it will then give you a link to post.
  • Simply wrap and tape using gaffer's tape (not as gummy as duct tape) to seal around your lens. I have used freezer bags, trash bags (for long lenses) and whatever provides visible access to the 'bells and whistles' on my cameras.
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