© Missouri Professional Photographers Association

DIY Rainmaker by MOPPA member Jane Ballard

November 13, 2017 8:41 AM | Rachel Edgington (Administrator)

In search of something different to offer my photo clients, I decided that I would try to make it rain - on command - under my control!  So...I built a “Rainmaker”!



I used four ten foot sections of ¾” Schedule 80 PVC (for the strength.)  One of the ten foot sections I left full.  Two of the ten foot lengths I cut in half and the fourth piece I cut in various lengths for my connection pieces.  I also used four T connectors and four 90* corner connectors.  To get water into the contraption, you will also need a spigot attachment (I don’t know what you call them, but you attach a hose to it to run water into the pipes.)


Starting with two of the five foot sections, I drilled ⅛” holes one inch apart starting at one inch in from the end.  Then with the full section, I drilled ⅛” holes one inch apart starting at 1¼” in from the end.  The final two five foot sections, I drilled ⅛” holes one inch apart starting at 1½” in from the end.  This will create a staggered “waterfall” effect.


For the assembly, you will need Schedule 80 PVC Pipe Cleaner and Glue.  Out of the uncut section of PVC pipe, cut three pieces eight inches long and one piece eighteen inches long and one piece six inches long.  The six inch long piece will have to be cut in half to accommodate the spigot attachment.  See the illustration for assembly layout.  Be sure to clean the PVC pipe ends with the cleaner before using the glue.  Only assemble one piece at a time.  The cleaner and the glue WILL make a mess, so be sure you are in an area that you can get messy!!!




I let the glue set up overnight to make sure everything was dry.  I used my pop up tent to which to secure my Rainmaker.  The tent served several purposes - first of all, it’s a big diffuser for the sunlight.  Secondly, I can hold the backdrop around the sides.  And, you can secure the Rainmaker overhead under the inside across the center of the tent!  I propped the legs of my tent up on a stack of three cinder post blocks on each leg just to get some extra height for shooting.  

For shooting, I covered three sides with black plastic, then put a black backdrop in front of the plastic to reduce the glare from the speedlights/strobes.  Put a speedlight behind the subject and gelled for color effects on the rain.  I put plastic bags (Ziplock) over my speedlights to protect them from the water.  For safety reasons, it is BEST to use speedlights or battery pack strobes.  DO NOT place the speedlights/strobes IN the water - there should be plenty of room behind and in front of the Rainmaker to set up lighting!!!  There is plenty of room to shoot your model behind the Rainmaker or IN the Rainmaker, depending on the shots you are looking for.


Unfortunately, I ran out of warm weather where I could get the shots I envisioned with my Rainmaker!  I did get it set up and took several “test models” just to play with the rain and the lighting to see what I could get.  Look out next year!!!



Jane Ballard is a photographer and train enthusiast making her home in Joplin, Missouri. Starting out with just a "point and shoot", she graduated to her first DSLR, a Nikon D3100, in 2012. As she "matured" through her 20's, 30's, and 40's, her creativity became lost, overpowered by her logical "fit into the mold" business side. She has since began a journey of experimentation and art that is fulfilling all that was missing in her early years. You can see some of her work at JaneBallard.com



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