Mother Nature doesn’t always play in our favor. Being in Michigan, I’ve dealt with all the different elements there are.
Last weekend, I had the privilege to photograph the MSU Gran Fondo, a bike race organized by the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine to support skin cancer awareness, prevention and research. And with an eight-hour shoot ahead of me, and gloomy weather in the forecast, I decided it was necessary to pick up some weather-necessary supplies.
I wasn’t totally worried about my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, with it being weather-sealed. But being outside for eight hours, and potentially having downpours as I was shooting at the finish line, meant I needed to be prepared and keep my gear as dry as possible.
Of course, the forecast completely cleared up the morning of the race, so I was able to keep my rain gear in my bag. But, having shot races in the rain before, below are few pieces of gear I’d recommend for your next rainy-day shoot.
Whether your camera is weather-sealed or not, you’ll want a rain sleeve. While there are several professional-looking and reusable options on the market, there’s no need to go crazy here. Instead, invest in some disposable OP/TECH rain sleeves that you can change out every couple of hours. While these are somewhat annoying to deal with because of the size and flexibility, they’ll do what they’re meant to do — keep your camera and lens dry.
If you don’t have time to get some rain sleeves, grab some grocery bags and cut out a hole for your lens to fit through.
Microfiber Towels and Lens Cloths
Your lenses will get wet — there’s no way around that. Take a bunch of microfiber towels with you to wipe the outside of the lenses dry, and then use regular lens cloths on the glass elements.
A Weather-Ready Backpack
My weather backpack of choice is the Lowepro Flipside Trek AW 350, a medium-sized backpack that will hold my camera body and 2-3 lenses. It features body-side access to the camera compartment and also has a storage compartment above, where you can keep your towels, lens cloths, batteries and other accessories.
It’s got a rain cover that fully encompasses the backpack, so you can be sure that your bag and gear stay dry.
Remember how I wrote about the benefits of using a lens hood? In addition to helping with image quality in direct sunlight, it’ll also help to keep your glass dry.
This goes without saying — get a rain jacket along with some rain or track pants to keep you dry. Get some waterproof shoes, or wear tennis shoes that you know won’t get soaked. And as funny as this may sound, one of those hats with an umbrella attached isn’t a terrible idea, either.
Sandals and boots are a no-go for me — sandals get too uncomfortable after a while, and boots aren’t as mobile. Working something like a race means you potentially have to run to get a good shot.
Just because the rain might dampen some people’s parades, doesn’t mean it has to dampen your photography! Getting rain sleeves, towels, lens cloths and other accessories will help keep you and your gear dry, helping you create great photos in the process.