It doesn't look like much, but my camera (you can't see it here; it's on a tripod under the umbrella), my rucksack, and I each stayed dry while the rain clouds passed overhead. Best of all, it took me almost no time to set up, and I didn't need anything that I don't normally carry in my pack. (Want to know more? Then come back next week to see how you can rig a poncho shelter in less time than it takes you to tie your shoes.)
OK. That pretty much covers the ground. But maybe you think it's silly to shoot pictures in the rain. If so, you're not alone. On more than one occasion, I've been asked…
And my answer? Well, for one thing, as I've already mentioned, there are weeks when I'd never set foot outside my door if I waited for the sun to shine. But that's not the only reason. Rain clears the air of many biting flies, and empties campsites and trails of noisy groups of fair-weather partyers. It also makes it easier to move quietly through the woods. Wildlife watching then becomes a bit less of a long-odds gamble. The main reason, though, is the color. Gray days aren't necessarily dull days. Rain makes colors richer and more vibrant. In shutterbug-speak, they're more saturated. The effect can be spectacular—think of a flame-colored hillside glimpsed through a swirling autumn mist—or subtle. Take the droplet-bejeweled spiderweb in the photo above. It was shot during a steady but gentle rain, and if you look carefully, you'll see the unfortunate, pea-green aphid trapped in the sticky threads. One more example: I took the photo below in a downpour. The daisies bowed their heads under the rain's relentless onslaught, while the gunmetal surface of The River was pockmarked by repeated liquid hammerblows. Sky and water were both gray, but the scene certainly wasn't devoid of color.