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How raindrops can transform a scene
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Mason Resnick is the editor of the Adorama Learning Center and a lifetime photography enthusiast.

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How raindrops can transform a scene

Shoot through a window on a rainy day? The secret is the focus.

I’m sitting in my office, typing away, when something outside catches my eye: dark, menacing rain clouds! Sure enough, within minutes it’s pouring rain, and the wind is whipping it around. Drops are landing on the window.


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But what most people see as flash floods, soaked socks, lightning strikes and wind damage, we photographers see as a photo opportunity.

As the storm abates and the sky lightens, I reach for my Canon 40D. Using my simple18-55mm kit lens, I focus on the drops hanging on my window glass, looking for patterns and designs. And very soon, I find them.  Note: Some compact cameras now can focus up to as close as an inch away from the surface of the lens, making it possible to get shots like this without specialized equipment.

 

Who shot the rain? The rain has barely stopped when I started shooting. Here’s the overview of my backyard. Not very exciting...

I made sure to focus close, zoomed to 55mm. I tried different apertures to see how the changing depth of field would affect the result. And I didn’t try to outthink my camera: I put it on P mode and let it choose the right exposure.

 



Zoom in: I focused to about 6 inches and zoomed in to 55mm with my kit lens. Interesting refractions in the water droplets. It’s getting better, but I shot this at f/10. Hmmm…let’s see what this would look like at f/5.6…

 

Open wide and say aha! At the widest aperture the background is a more pleasing, abstract blur.


Something as simple as raindrops transformed something I see out of my office window every day into something remarkable. Moral? Water makes the world a photographically more interesting place. Have your camera ready!


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