Monday 8 September 2008

The Challenge of Rain

This past week has seen torrential downpours across England and I took this as a challenge photographically, how do I photograph rain?

Therefore, much to the amusement of neighbours, I dashed outside as showers began; my camera protected under a large umbrella as the rain ran down the back of my mac to soak my trousers and feet.

Ripples in growing puddles afforded the first subject. As the puddles grew and the showers intensified, the rain whipped the surfaces and the bouncing drops hinted at where to go next - capturing raindrops themselves on camera.

Despite shutter speeds of 1/1000s or less, the rain fell too fast and it was only the results of hitting water or a surface that seemed accessible. Photographing an expanse of water resulted in a repetitive and confusing image, so the telephoto lens was used to concentrate on small patches of water.

It was only then that I learnt that whilst there was enough rain to soak me in a normal shower, the likelihood of capturing a raindrop as it hit water or shortly afterwards was actually relatively small.

For once, I welcomed a torrential downpour and photographed innumerable pictures of a puddle close up with a fast shutter speed and high ISO setting (1/1000s; ISO 1600. Screening and cropping of the resultant pictures ended up with the selection of a handful as seen in the slide show above. Depending on the depth of the puddle you could get a crater with droplets emitted at its border or a single drop or string of drops bouncing back out of the centre.

A neighbour's car gave an alternative surface to show the impact of drops on the film of water covering the bonnet. The shiny surface gave an interesting distorted reflection of flowers behind the car when the focus was adjusted.

The departing rain left an enormous puddle which mirrored the house at the end of the road. By rotating the image 180 degrees, the house was reflected accurately but appeared set in a strange environment.

The rain that had previously kept me indoors was transformed into a strange and beautiful subject when taken as a photographic challenge.

Rain can also be destructive; please also spare a thought for those made homeless both in the UK by the same rain and the people of the Caribbean affected by the tropical storms and hurricanes Hannah and Ike. If, like me, you would like to help them, visit the Red Cross hurricane disaster appeal page and make a donation.

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