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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How Do You Photograph Rain?

I don't know how many of you have tried photographing rain, rain drops in particular.  But if you have, I'm sure that in your first attempts, you were wondering why it did not appeared in the picture.  And then you thought, maybe you need rain to pour harder so you waited for a heavier downpour and tried one more time - without much luck. 

So why doesn't rain appear in pictures? 

The truth is I do not have a validated answer, but let me share what I think.  Rain is basically water, tiny drops of water.  And water is colorless, in fact, transparent.  Naturally, it does not reflect enough light back to your camera's sensor to capture.  In addition to that, they move so quickly that whatever little chance of getting them captured gets blurred out.

So how do you make rain appear in pictures?  The solution couldn't be any simpler - backlight.  And that simply means any light source positioned at the back of raindrops.  It doesn't matter what angle.  Take a look at the following picture showing how water from a garden hose (to simulate rain.  Natural rain fall is very rare in Doha.) is backlit by one Canon Speedlite. 

I've included some setup and test shots here for your reference.  Some of the results we liked, apart from the one featured above, may be viewed at Lighting Adventures.

Some addiditional advise if you are planning on doing a similar kind of shoot.
1. Be considerate.  Plan well ahead of time how you intend to execute your photoshoot.
2. Turn off the water tap each time you pause to review your shots and re-think of your strategy.
3. If possible, do your photoshoot in the softscaped part of your garden so the plants and lawn may benefit from the water you are throwing away.  Keep shooting on hardscape to a minimum.


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