When the Rain Comes
Rain Gear and Why You Need It:
Weather can give a landscape photograph the texture and light that makes it striking. Some of the world’s most striking images have been taken during weather that would keep most people indoors. Think of Ansel Adam’s “Clearing Storm” in Yosemite as a highly visible example of this fact. That one image alone has sold thousands of copies and earned millions of dollars – all because he ventured out during weather that others chose to stay out of. That’s why as a photographer you need to have the right gear for the weather you are going to be going out in. In particular, I think good rain gear is essential. If you are at a great location and weather rolls in, you’ll see most photographers head indoors and if you have the right gear – you can stay and get shots that the others will never get.
While there are a number of good manufacturers of rain gear, I am particular to The North Face outerwear because that is what I used when I was climbing. But, you’ll also find good rain wear from Columbia, Marmot, Arcteryx and Mountain Hardware. To be prepared to get out and stay out I believe you’ll benefit from each of the items I’m going to discuss that will keep both you and your camera in a dry and comfortable state in any wet weather.
Rain pants – are good for more than just rainy weather! The great thing about a good lightweight pair of rain pants is that they keep you dry when it is raining, but also allow you to kneel on a wet surface or walk through wet brush and stay dry and comfortable. There’s nothing quite like the stares you get when you stop off at a place to eat and because you didn’t have rain pants everyone sees the wet spot on the knees of your pants. Even more important than that though, is that rain pants make being in wet conditions comfortable and allow you to spend more time in the field. The pants I use are the North Face Venture rain pants which run about $69 at retail. They are an outer layer which you can wear 2-3 base layers under depending upon the temperature conditions. (See below)
Rain Jacket – A good lightweight, Gore-tex jacket with a hood is a must for being outdoors in both light and heavy rain conditions. Just like the pants, a good rain jacket will allow you to keep shooting long after other photographers have headed indoors. I use several types of North Face jackets, but for a good lightweight jacket I recommend the Venture jackets ($99) for their lightweight, storage pockets and easy storing. While I like having the hood on the jacket, I will often wear one of Outdoor Research’s Seattle Sombrero’s when I am shooting in the rain. Combine a good rain jacket (see below) with a good rain pant and you will find yourself with the landscape all to yourself when the rain comes as the other photographers pack it in to stay dry. So, don’t let a little weather keep you from having the landscape to yourself!
Rain Hat – As much as I rely on my North Face gear for both cold and wet conditions, one of my favorite pieces of gear is an Outdoor Research rain hat – or as it is known – a Seattle Sombrero. This one piece of equipment alone has done more to allow me to shoot in rainy weather than any hooded jacket or a ball cap could. Being made of Gore-Tex, it sheds water and keeps it away from your face or going down your neck. I wore mine recently while photographing a fast moving river from the middle of the stream on a rainy day and never got a drop on my face or body.
The nice thing about a Seattle Sombrero is that the brim around the hat is flexible so that you can look through the viewfinder in your camera and it shades the eyepiece to block out light. With a ball cap I was always having to turn it around backwards to shoot and the hood on my jackets blocked my peripheral vision making composition harder. With the sombrero you have the options of shaping it in multiple configurations for your use. Both sides will fold up, held in place by velcro, or you can just fold one side up if needed. The hats folds down or rolls up for easy storing too! Check one out sometime – you will love having one when the rain comes!
Storm Jacket – Keeping your camera dry (or relatively dry) is also important to staying out when others call it a day. A means of keeping the rain off of your camera is good for the life of your camera and your pocketbook. In a pinch a towel or a pocket raincoat can be placed over the camera and will work in a number of situations, but I found a product to keep my camera and lens dry called a Storm Jacket. (music swells – angels sing) No really, whomever came up with this dedicated rain cover for a camera and lens is my hero. The Storm Jacket has an opening on one end to allow you to look through your viewfinder and adjust your settings and on the other end has a drawstring opening which allows you to draw it tight to your lens. On the bottom is a velcro opening allowing you to open it so you can set your camera on your tripod then close it to make it as water resistant as possible! The Storm Jackets come in multiple sizes and colors and is lightweight and fits in any camera bag. Get one today and be prepared for tomorrow!
Keeping dry and staying out while the rest have gone home!