Zenfolio | Bob Barford Photography | Dramatic RainFall

Dramatic RainFall

July 30, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Have you ever want to shoot a dramatic rainfall scene? Scenes such as pictured to the left (courtesy of Pinterest through Mina Jafari), can have some technical challenges. There are many ways to create rainfall, probably one of the most common methods would be to simulate rain in Photoshop. There are at least a dozen tutorials on Youtube surrounding this technique. In summary, the core of the process involves creating noise and adding motion blur at an angle. Of course their are extras such as color toning and other edits depending upon the scene. This technique has limitations though as can be seen in the above image, the rain is actually bouncing off the umbrella and trickling down. You will need additional editing time if you want to create highlights and reflections as seen above. The 'add noise' techniques fall short if your subjects are framed tightly, though may be acceptable if your subjects are only part of a larger landscape.

To CREATE rain there are several techniques ranging from drilling holes in a hose to more sophisticated methods as shown in the following video Rain Machine.  Although without doubt you will get much better results in your final image, these methods have some challenges as well.

  • Sprinkler Hose- Can be found on Amazon but probably not in your local hardware store. The hose itself is fragile and is easily damaged, particularly if you opt to use wire clips to mount the hose onto the frame.
  • Frame- You will want at least a 8-10 foot wide frame unless your subject is completely static. Weather treated wood can be heavy and transporting 10 foot length of wood can present problems in certain passenger vehicles. Can you clamp two or more pieces together? Yes, at the cost of stability and running the hose can be more difficult.  PVC piping pieced together? Yes, it can be done but again you are looking at potential vehicle transport issues as well as leaks if not sealed properly. At 10 feet or more, 1" PVC piping is almost the minimum to avoid structural issues with the horizontal bar.

S0... Are there alternatives (without buying an expensive professionally built device)?

Yes! You will STILL maintain the basic pattern of a horizontal bar with at last two vertical supports as shown in the video. For your horizontal support, go to your local hardware store and purchase the following:

This is an aluminum angle post that may be purchased in either 4 foot or 8 foot lengths. These are lightweight and reasonably strong. Most hardware stores will have a choice relating to the thickness of the metal. I would recommend purchasing at least a 8 foot length and a 4 foot length of angle rod. This material is relatively easy to drill through and if necessary cut. Why two?

These rods will fit inside of each other very nicely, surface to surface. This is important because NOW you have a horizontal support no longer than 8 feet that can fit into most passenger cars. Of course this can be cut smaller if necessary. By placing two (or more) within each other, they will slide out to a much longer length. 

Drill holes in both lengths of angle rods at desired connection points. For example, in the 8ft and 4 foot lengths of rod when collapsed (both rods together) the total length of the rod would be 8 feet. To extend the rod, extend the 4 foot length of rod (to almost 12 feet) and secure both rods through pre-drilled holes with a small bolt.  Though considerably more expensive, angle rods are available with holes pre-drilled along the entire length of the rod.

Referring back to the video, sprinkler heads are attached to the top of the Angle rod with hose attached. If you wish to avoid buying sprinkler heads, small sprinklers with adjustable spray patterns are often available in many garden shops. Honestly, this option saves time and frustration and is well worth the few extra dollars you may spend. Some garden shops have multiple sprinklers that may be attached in tandem which makes this job even easier. Once you have the sprinklers attached to the horizontal, attach to hose to the sprinklers.

Rain is best photographed BACKLIT, so two strobes (Covered with plastic bags) are recommended. Again, rain is best photographed in the dark, so unless you are shooting at night, a black background will help improve your image. Support the horizontal rod (and background if necessary) though heavy lightstands WITH sandbags. If you do not use sandbags, the force of the water may de-stabilize the frame.

The overall dimensions of your frame will depend on what you plan to include in your final image.  Two 8 foot lengths of angle rod will often be enough even with a vehicle in the shot. If you plan for a wider frame, consider getting a heavier gauge angle rod. Although this construct may be slightly more expensive than shown in the video, it is much lighter and travels much better than the wood counterpart. It will certainly be sturdier than the PVC counterpart.


Bob Barford is a published photographer in So. PA.








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