April 17, 2011

a rainy-day wedding

A lighting strike in the background as a groomsman makes a mad dash across the rain-soaked path … this about sums up the weather we had on Saturday’s wedding. What you can’t see in this image is his umbrella being pulled away from him by the gusting wind.

Here is the shot I was aiming for when I got that lighting strike in the frame …

I was outside, kneeling down, to get some scene-setter images of the marquee tent where the wedding reception was being held. This was during a brief lull in the heavy rain when there was just a light drizzle. Shooting at a slow shutter speed, hand-held, I was machine-gunning my camera at 9 frames-per-second to make sure I got some images that were crisp.  1/25 @ f2.8 @ 2500 ISO.

Earlier the day, I wanted to get some photos of the couple, Colleen and Chris, outside someplace at the venue. But we had to remain dry if possible. In the end they were sheltered under a covered walkway, but to get a proper angle, I just shrugged it off, and stepped out into the downpour ..

My Nikon D3 and Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR II, drenched after a few minutes in the rain. Thankfully the weather sealing held up on the camera and lens!

In this grab shot as they walked away, you can see the rain come down.

And for a change of pace, here is one of the images from the romantic portrait session, shot indoors.
Using the available light coming through the window, with a Nikon 85mm f1.4G
Settings: 1/250 @ f1.6 @ 800 ISO

Fortunately, the couple was totally cool and unfazed by the rain pouring down on us all day.

For me, it also helped having equipment I can rely on.

Getting that lighting strike in the photograph there was purely luck,
but here’s an article on how to photograph lighting storms


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{ 23 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Lawrence April 18, 2011 at 1:32 am

I did one recently where my Canon 7D and 70-200 ended up looking like that too. What amazed me was the concern shown by the guests – they all KNEW I was crazy and that everything was about to blow up. The grey skies and soft light were a very nice change from the usual harsh South African light…


2 Jonathan April 18, 2011 at 1:47 am


Curious, do you have the 70-200 with IS or without?
I have a 7D with the plain ol’ 2.8, so I’m curious how it held up. :)



3 Lawrence April 18, 2011 at 2:15 am

I have the IS model – the Mk 1, not the new (very nice, very expensive) one. The weather proofing held up 100%. I also used the 24-70 L whose weather proofing I have always doubted because it has such a tiny rubber seal but it also held up.


4 Franklin April 18, 2011 at 4:41 am

Are only the flagship flashes from Nikon/Canon weather sealed? How about third-party brands (i.e. Metz, Nissin). I have to admit this was an area I totally omitted when thinking about weather sealed gear.


5 Aniversari April 18, 2011 at 5:37 am

Incredible lighting strike, I was thinking you had 2 photos, one with a longer exposure and one with the groom. Beautiful, as always, surprising too.


6 Stephen April 18, 2011 at 8:56 am

Since the weather sealing on the equipment is good enough, you probably won’t need this. But, perhaps you might be interested in this product I saw:

It’s a complete raincover system for the camera, flash, and lens.


7 Derek April 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Neil, I like how you taped your gel to your lens hood. I will have to try that myself.


8 Bart April 18, 2011 at 7:08 pm

I got you Neil you lost the foamy thing !!!
great Photos , you cought the lighting


9 Bogdan April 18, 2011 at 7:40 pm

I got the full spray of Niagara Falls once on my (then brand new) non weather sealed 20D. My old 5D went thru pouring rain at one Muskoka wedding without skipping a beat. In my experience, we, the photographers, are the weak link. We give up on adverse weather and run for shelter way sooner than our gear would (which is good… :-) ).
Just my two Canadian cents.




10 Eduardo B. April 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Hi Neil, do you know if the weather sealing for the D700 is as good as the D3?



11 Neil vN April 18, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Eduardo, I have no idea whether the D700 has the same weather sealing as the D3, but having used a D700 .. it does feel like a solid camera, with no corners cut in building the body. I’d be surprised if it wasn’t as durable as the D3 under those conditions.

Neil vN


12 andrew April 18, 2011 at 9:31 pm


Love the indoor shot. The tight cropping works very well and the image compliments both of their faces. I’ve added it to my scrapbook of images to ‘maybe try one day’.

Cheers from Melbourne, Australia

ps. I have both your books, a heavily used black foamie thing and am a frequent visitor to your website, so it’s a little ironic that my first ever comment relates to a natural light photo.


13 Roger April 19, 2011 at 5:07 am

7D is fully weather sealed as are the “D” series camera bodies. The 5Dmkii will be ok in some light damp weather but not the kind of downpour that neil was in. However not all the lenses are sealed. The EF 24-70L is NOT for sure – its zoom length varies, hence the massive hood – moreover even with sealed lenses it MUST have a UV filter on it to complete the seal so to speak. I bring my 7D along for the ride as my backup and have used it in a full on rainstorm, freezing rain, and left it outside during a windy day to film a drifting snow timelapse.


PS: here’s a link to see the 7 in its element:


14 Brian April 19, 2011 at 9:25 am

Awesome Neil! Thank you!


15 Ed Verosky April 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I remember shooting a wedding/reception in the Texas Hill Country area in a beautiful area that was feeling a downpour. Many of the guests left early because there was a good chance that flooding would’ve kept everyone who stayed overnight.

One thing I had to deal with was how my lens would get an instant film of condensation all over it (70-200mm) when going from the air-conditioned indoor area to the outside where it was warm and very wet. It did provide some interesting soft-focus effects however!

Great shots of the bride and groom running for cover when the rain surprised us during the b/g portraits, too!


16 arnold April 19, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Neil, were you able to bounce flash in that clear plastic tent? Curious to know how you captured images in that tent. Thanks.


17 Neil vN April 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Arnold, I did in fact bounce my flash there, even against the near-translucent roof of the tent.My success rate wasn’t as high as usual, of course. What I did find, is that if I kept closer to the sides of the tent, and bounced at a Certain angle behind me, then the flash’s path isn’t perpendicular to the tent’s surface .. then enough light returned to give me an exposure at f2.8 @ 1600 ISO. But bouncing my flash straight at the tent’s surface (Ie, perpendicular to the surface), then it was severly under-exposed.

But keeping my movement limited, I was able to bounce flash there. But it was a challenge.

Neil vN


18 Nancy April 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm


Beautiful portraits and an awesome lightning shot. How did you light the shot of the couple in the doorway? Was it bounce flash or a softbox? Lovely!


19 Neil vN April 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Nancy, it was just the available light. Where the couple was positioned, it was open shade on them, and hence soft even light as they faced out to the light.

Neil vN


20 briand April 20, 2011 at 12:06 am

i thought the hot shoe connection can get short circuit?


21 Neil vN April 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I’m sure it can happen, but at some point in this situation, you just have to commit yourself, regardless.

Neil vN


22 Doug April 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

That’s extreme portraiture Neil. Mind if I ask what kind of hand strap you use? The shot showing the heavy rain-soaked 70-200 makes it look mandatory.


23 Neil vN April 24, 2011 at 5:09 am

Doug, no hand-strap. It’s just the camera strap wrapped around my wrist. But I do use an adapter so I can hang the Nikon vertically off my shoulder. I used the Camdapter attachment there, but it would’ve made better long-term sense to get the Really Right Stuff attachment, since that would’ve been a good entry into their system, while still allowing me to attach the strap vertically.

Neil vN


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