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Rainy Day Problems

Published: 16/10/2019
By: Brandon

Lisa from Seattle writes:

Living in the Pacific Northwest means dealing with rain for half of the year. I am relatively new to real estate photography and have made the decision early-on to outsource my editing. Being able to offer blue skies on every shoot is a service that my clients love but some days it's raining so hard that I can't get any decent exterior shots without capturing the rain drops. A wet driveway is one thing, but raindrops in a photo obviously doesn't make sense if you have a perfectly blue sky. I feel like there should be a simple solution for this problem but for the life of me, I can't figure it out myself. Any ideas?

Hey Lisa,

I can relate to your situation; only in my part of the world, we're dealing with snowflakes instead of rain drops! You're right, there is a simple fix to this problem. Just set your camera up on a tripod and slow your shutter speed down until you get to a point where the raindrops are no longer frozen in the frame. Usually when it's that rainy, the ambient light is low enough that you only need to decrease your ISO to balance your exposure. If lowering your ISO doesn't work, you can also use a smaller aperture or a ND filter.

I think having a wet driveway and blue sky looks perfectly fine, but that's a personal preference and it might be wise to see where your client stands on the issue.



9 comments on “Rainy Day Problems”

  1. Go to youtube and search "remove raindrops with photoshop." There's a video that will come up on top and it shows step by step a method for removing the drops as well as the rainy haze.

  2. @Dave, thanks for that link. I've never seen that technique before.

    As an option, if the property isn't way out of the way, you can also return at a time when there is a break in the rain to pick up the front exterior. I know that in the PNW it can rain every day for a month but if you know the next day it isn't going to be raining and you will be nearby, it can often be faster to make the photo in the camera than to spend a bunch of time in post.

    I just sent a quote out for a property that is less than 2 miles from my house. It faces North so there isn't a great time to photograph the front exterior but I'd be looking straight into the sun through the middle of the day. I let the agent know about the timing that if the middle of the day was the only time we could meet up to do the job, I'd come earlier or later for the exterior to make my life easier. I need to go to the post office in that direction anyway.

    I can often be the case that it's less time to return to a property to redo a photo than the time it might take to rescue something in post.

  3. The main little snippet that jumped at me wasn’t the rain drops as much as her “early-on” decision to outsource her editing. The two things taken together seems like she either isn’t very good/experienced at editing, or at least isn’t very confident.

    I can only imagine how many sky replacements pacific NW shooters do, but they really aren’t difficult or time consuming. My go-to for sky replacements is using “blend if” to blend away gray skies and then masking back parts of the image that were destroyed using a copied layer of the original. Then, just drop the pretty sky in. It takes literally 2 mins, tops once you get good at it.

    I would encourage Lisa to learn how to edit her jobs from top to bottom and then reweigh the decision to outsource. If nothing else, learning the skill keeps her more flexible when a client inevitably asks her to “put fire in the fireplace” or some other editing trickery. Also, having the skills yourself allows you to better QC your editors when that time comes.

  4. Those are great links. Thanks. Here in S. Cal only have that problem occasionally but I also shoot in the Spring in France so this is great. But now, how do you do sky replacement and rain drops in video? Please!

  5. Hey neighbor!
    Here in Portland we have the same issue. The things I do?
    Shoot fast to freeze the drops. There might still be a few drops you need to remove in Photoshop. I only pay close attention to the images of the front of the listing.
    The hourly feature in "AccuWeather" is amazingly accurate, so you might be able to get in between showers if it's not a steady rain day!

    As for replacing the sky?
    Look for (or take) shots of cloud cover with breaks. If your sky looks like rain has been on & off, your wet concrete is will look natural.

  6. I'm not a big fan of altering the photo as much as it needs to be in order to put the home in it's best possible light.
    Blue sky is one thing but if you look carefully at the video shown above, the gutters tell the story.
    I have to shoot this week in the rain up here in Seattle and it will be raining. I sent out e-mails to my agents asking if they and the owners are OK with the rain. Both said it will have to be.
    If the owner really wants blue sky's my agents usually tell them they will have to wait which pushes back everything. Urgency is the key word here.
    BTW, I checked with Box Brownie and removing rain falls under a "special quote" from them. A photo or all the outside photos are required for them the look at then you get the quote.

  7. Perk up there Pete Malan. We are allowed to alter the images so long as it does not misrepresent the property. Adding a blue sky and getting rid of the rain drops is actually part of our job. Both are so so so easy to do. We have to enhance the images to produce a higher standard of quality. If that means outsourcing so be it. However you better know how to edit them yourself in case an agents says I need them in one hour or I loss the listing. I am pretty sick and tired of the purest who think outsourcing or enhancing is not being a professional real estate photographer.

  8. How to Remove Rain and Snow from Exterior Images.

    On-Site Steps:

    Step 1) Mount Camera to Tripod & Compose Shot

    Step 2) Press Shutter Release Button

    Step 3) Count to Three

    Step 4) Press Shutter Release Button

    Post Processing Steps:

    1) Import Images into Lightroom

    2) Hold Shift and Select Both Images of Each Set

    3) Pre-Process The Two Together - that is, apply the same presets to both, the same brush tool/gradient tool/radial tool adjustments to both....basically, these are both headed to Photoshop as layers so you want them to be processed the same so they are pretty much clones of each other other than where the rain/snow is located on each frame

    4) Send to Photoshop as Layers

    5) Swith the Top Layer to "Darken" Blend Mode

    TA-DA! The rain or snow is gone.

    This works because the rain streak or snow specs will never be located in the same place on two frames if you count to three between captures. If you are paranoid and want to "triple check"...then do this process with three captured frames instead of two. But I've never needed to use more than two.

    It works like magic.

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