Epic Rain Shots using Off Camera Flash

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Shortly after posting a shot of Katie and Chris kissing in the rain on my Facebook page and in the Showiteers group, I was asked several times, “How did you do that??”

I’m here to tell you that any one can make that shot, all you need are two things: 1) Off camera flash. 2) Your client’s trust.

The first part is pretty easy! Most of us by now are using off camera light at some point during the day. You need a flash and some kind of trigger. The most common types are Pocket Wizards and Radio Poppers, but there are lots of different options out there. Once your have those, and a bit of knowledge how to set it up, you are ready to get wet!

Here is what I typically do:
1. Pick my spot before I bring the couple outside.  We want them to be nice and dry until we are ready to roll.

2. Set up my light on a stand about 10 feet behind where I want the happy couple to stand, with the flash head zoomed out wide. I like it wide to pick up as much of the rainfall as possible. If you are worried about your flash getting wet, have an assistant or bridesmaid or someone, stand there with an umbrella over your light, but be careful they don’t end up in your shot. You can also wrap a plastic grocery bag around it. Most gear is weather sealed these days, so unless you are attempting this in the pouring down rain, you should be fine. (Insert legal speak here: Dan Dalstra Photography assumes no liability in the event you ruin your flash attempting this shot.)
View More: http://dalstra.pass.us/rain
3. Test it out. I typically start with my flash on manual at about 1/16th power and adjust from there. All other camera settings such as ISO and Shutter Speed will be pretty specific to your location.

4. Bring out couple, make them stand in their designated spot. I like to use the couple to block the flash, but that’s just me. Have them kiss, laugh, hug, high five…whatever.

5. Shoot. Dazzle them with your mad skillz.

The hardest part about the whole shoot is establishing that trust with your clients. Let them see how excited you are about this cool shot, tell them that a little rain is going to make for an unbelievable photo. They will get just as excited as you about the possibility if you share your enthusiasm with them.  Creating a great photograph often hinges on establishing that relationship with your clients and getting them to trust your vision. Hopefully by this point, they already love and trust you and you can drag them out into the rain for a few minutes. It’s worth it, and they will love the results.

If trying this out on the wedding day is a bit adventurous for you, then practice at home with a sprinkler and your kids/dogs/significant others/etc… Have someone put the spray nozzle of your garden hose on ‘shower’, aim it up and stand your test subject in front of  where the spray falls and your flash is behind hopefully not getting soaked. (see above disclaimer).
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Once you get comfortable with this technique, you don’t have to wait for rain to make some killer shots!!  The same concept can work with other shoots, like on the dance floor when they start popping bottles!  Boom! Have fun and get wet!

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