Aim: The aim of this exercise is to produce a magazine cover shot on the subject of rain.
Approach and results: As the course materials state, I didn't want to go for a rainy middle distance street shot as it lacks impact. I tried a number of shots in the rain with varying degrees of success, mostly taken in the back garden. These were close-ups of raindrops hanging on various objects; pine trees and a washing line. The washing line was a rotary line folded up with a cobweb on it which created quite a nice illustration of a long wet summer but it lacked any impact or vibrance.
I decided the way forward was to create my own rain. I chose to create a drowned place setting on a patio table. This was small enough to 'rain' on and still look authentic. Doing this in the back garden at -2c had its challenges. First off the hose pipe sprinkler head was frozen so I broke the ice on the watering can and used that instead. I used a dark glass table and I chose a glass plate and two glasses for the set-up, keeping the main colour blue with a corresponding orange accent. Funnily I've blogged before about my dislike of orange/blue combinations but I hold my hand up and say this worked well. To light the subject I used natural daylight (it was actually a bright sunny day) as I thought flash might make things a little too phony. I arrange the scene so the light came from the side, capturing the raindrops.
For the composition I chose a simple set-up with lines leading to the top left hand corner and the orange accent of centre and slightly raised. The fork leads the eye to the accent. I chose a depth of field that would drop the blue glass slightly out of focus to maintain interest on the orange glass. the inspiration came from Andre Kertesz 'The fork' 1928. That said, the composition could not be too contrived as I wanted it to represent someone being caught out by the weather. You can imagine someone dashing for cover as the heavens open.
I took the shot with a cable release in one hand and the watering can in the other, using 8 frames a second and waving the can around to ensure a good mix of pictures. The shutter speed was slow enough to create movement in the 'rain' (something that was missing from my earlier attempts).
However, as you can see from the split tone shot below, the fantastic reflections that were present in the set-up, disappeared when I started pouring the water; obvious really? This was a shame because the shadow and reflection of the fork travel through the glass plate and are particularly effective. I love this shot but there is no rain!!
Stop press!! It sudddenly dawned on me that I have the test picture 'sans rain'. All I needed to do was combine the two. First I cloned the fork shadow into the rain picture but this was too well defined even with the opacity down at 50%. For the final image I used a gausian blur on the test picture and then cloned the blurred shadow at 50% into the rain image below:
If you compare this image to the first rain picture you can see the subtle but important difference the shadow makes, returning a depth that had been lost.
With shoots that involve any kind of action it is important to run it through to get a clear idea of the result; the disappearing reflections being point of fact.
Even if a picture illustrates your point this does not make it interesting, dramatic or eye catching. My early attempts were perhaps more illustrative but were static and dull by comparison.