Photography in the Rain

I made reservations to go hike with the kids at Colorado Bend State Park several days ago, but as luck would have it Wednesday turned out to be a cold rainy day. The kids did not have any interest in going out and hiking in the rain, but I really wanted to get out of the house as this was a vacation day and I was tired of seeing them go by with little to show. So, I risked the possibility of downpours and drove out to the park anyway. I figured that I could still get good photos with a gray dreary sky if I mostly kept the sky out of the shot. The trail that I had in mind was the Spicewood Springs trail which features a series of small waterfalls and pools along the trail. Because of the rain I had the entire trail to myself and didn’t see anyone else on the trail.

One of the issues with this trail was that it involves a lot of hiking over slippery wet rocks and even through the stream a few times, so your feet will probably get wet. The photo below shows a long exposure at the beginning of the part of the trail that runs up the slippery creek. You can see the first small cascade in the distance. The trail goes straight up the right side of this photo through the water and I am happy to say that I did not slip and fall on my hike.

Spicewood Springs Hiking Trail at Colorado Bend State Park

You can’t see the rain drops in the long exposure shot above, but it was lightly coming down during most of my hike. Many of my shots were taken standing in the running water on slippery rocks trying to get a good long exposure of the running water. The image below shows my camera and tripod setup.

I started out using an ND filter to allow long shutters, but as the day grew darker and I moved under the trees, I found that I could just use a really high aperture and get 4 or 5 seconds exposure, which was plenty. Shooting with a 10-stop screw-on ND filter is a hassle because it is almost impossible to focus through it, so if you change your composition you have to remove the filter to recompose and re-focus and then put it back on for the shot.

Spicewood Springs Hiking Trail at Colorado Bend State Park


Even with the total gray cloud cover, I was still able to get the forest colors in the shot and the trees and plants let me mostly hide the sky.

The trail does involve a little climbing on slippery rocks in this case. Below is a photo looking down at a small waterfall and pool from the rocks above.

Spicewood Springs Hiking Trail at Colorado Bend State Park

In certain shots I wanted to be able to see the rocky bottom of the pool but the gray sky reflection blocked it all out, so I used a circular polarizer to knock down the reflection. The first image below was shot without polarization and you can see plenty of sky reflected in the water.

Spicewood Springs Hiking Trail at Colorado Bend State Park (no polarizer)

Using full polarization in the next shot, I was able to see the plants under the water that I thought were nice looking.

Spicewood Springs Hiking Trail at Colorado Bend State Park (with polarizer)

There were a lot of leaves along the trail and I like the way the fall color stood out in this scene (below) with the waterfall in the background. I shot this wide at 16mm and much closer to the waterfall compared to the 35mm shots above from a distance. So the waterfall stays about the same size in the picture even though I am much closer.

Spicewood Springs Hiking Trail at Colorado Bend State Park

The rain continued to increase so I wrapped up my shooting at a large pool near some cliffs. The camera gear got a bit wet, but it is all weather sealed and I let the heater blow on it all the way home to dry it all out.

I worked on this final area for quite a while trying to figure out what to do with the rust colored grasses in the foreground and the green rocks in the back. I tried a wide shot that took in more of the pool, but the waterfalls were pushed back to nothing. I finally decided on this photo shot at 24mm with polarization.

Spicewood Springs Hiking Trail at Colorado Bend State Park

You can keep hiking and climbing up the trail to the left, but this is where I turned back as it was starting to rain harder. I was getting wet and my feet were soaked, so I packed up my gear and put the rain hood over my backpack and hiked back out. It stopped raining when I got to the car, so I wandered down by the river to see if there was anything for me to shoot, but it was getting dark and I didn’t even take a shot. I did drive back home happy.

32 thoughts on “Photography in the Rain

      1. Boots, man! One of the best investments I’ve made was a pair of great knee-high boots that fit snugly, have non-slip bottoms, and are heavy enough to protect from at least some snakes. I don’t use them only for wet conditions, either. They’re great protection against dewberry vines and fire ants.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, the park is Northwest of Austin and it takes me about an hour to drive there. It is a great place to hike as there are lots of trails. It is quite scenic along the river and there are a few waterfalls to find. It is also quite dark at night out there which is nice for star watching.
      There is a lot of camping there but it fills up fast. The park is also quite remote and there is very little phone reception and only a small store a few mile from the park entrance.
      It’s a place for getting away from civilization.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the info, and after this last year, the need to get away from civilization is greater than I thought, lol. I hope you had your family have a very Happy and Prosperous New Year Jason, stay safe! 🎊🎉🥂🎊🎉🥂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I would think that you are much closer to Big Bend than me and I would probably spend a lot more time there were I so close.

          Thanks. I am definitely counting my blessings after this year. I hope you have a great 2021 as well.

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            1. A word of warning, if you are easily impressed by beautiful landscapes, you will probably not want to leave the place. I usually spend my drive home trying to work out when the next time I can go back.

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            2. I am easily impressed by nature’s beauty, although nature isn’t a friend of mine, lol. I’m not, what one would say, an outdoorsy person. I tend to fall, scrap myself, get bitten or find allergic reactions to things I didn’t know I was allergic to. I almost got kicked out of the Girl Scouts for constantly getting hurt when we’d go camping for our annual trip to Cloudcroft NM 🤣. But I still find I want to visit places like Big Bend and Colorado State park because it’s so beautiful.

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    1. Today is the first good rain that we have had in months. It is pouring down outside as I write this. We do usually get some good rain January through March which makes for a great wildflower season. I will be ready.

      I don’t often shoot with the polarizer though I probably should. It does do wonders with reflected and scattered light.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Don’t blame you for wanting to get out of the house and I am glad you did! What nice shots. I always love waterfalls and very cool about seeing the plants under the water. You can make magic happen with your camera. 🙂
    Glad you didn’t slip or fall, I probably wouldn’t have been as lucky. I have the talent of tripping over air.

    Liked by 1 person

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