This exercise asks use to produce a photograph to a specification, whilst ensuring that the image is strong and attractive. The photograph is for a magazine and should illustrate the subject of rain.
The course notes offered, amongst others, the following advice-
- Think of all the effects of rain that you have ever seen
- Keep it simple
- Be interesting
- Make the photograph attractive
I tackled this exercise several months ago while I was in Scotland due to seemingly infinite supply of rainfall!
I initially had the idea of shooting the low-lying rain clouds that shroud the hills near my home in Scotland. However, when I tried to capture these things didn’t go to plan. I fitted my camera with a newly acquired rain cover and set off. The first problem was that I found the rain cover made the camera very awkward to control and with a wide-angle lens attached the plastic kept slipping over the lens. Secondly, the low light levels of a wet January day made hand-held shooting difficult and thirdly the resulting photographs were very grey and flat. Not attractive at all.
I returned to the drawing board and using the guideline above, think of all the effects of rain you have seen, I brainstormed a selection of keywords that sprang to mind. These included:
Puddles, rain drop splashes
Ducks, (as in this is a day for the ducks)
Mud/ Muddy boots
Raindrops on windows
I reasoned that in order to achieve an attractive photograph worthy of a magazine cover the image needed to contain colour in order to grab a reader’s attention from a newsstand. I decided to explore the idea of a still-life arrangement involving umbrellas, which in turn led me to the idea of boots and in particular Wellington boots.
I experimented with different arrangements, combining the umbrellas and boots before realising that the boots alone in the frame worked better.
The composition is simpler allowing the viewer to make the connection between the boots, raindrops and wet autumn leaves. I use a Speedlight to light the scene while increasing my shutter speed by 2 stops to kill the ambient light which was causing large reflections on the boots. The darker background also contributes to the idea of a dull, rainy day.
The colour of the boots immediately catches the eye. Whilst the diagonals produced by the paving stones both frame the boots and lead the across the frame.
I imagined that this could be the front cover of a ‘parenting’ type magazine, winter or autumn editions.
I did consider shooting from lower and having the top of the boot extend beyond the top of the frame, however I decided upon this composition as it leaves ample room for a masthead at the top. It also has adequate space for headings and captions at both the right hand and bottom.
Considering the amount of access I had to rain it was more difficult than I had anticipated creating an attractive picture. When you see a rainy street scene in a magazine someone is usually wearing a red coat or standing under a yellow umbrella, or loitering outside a bistro which is emanating a warming glow. Not necessarily so in reality.
The next time I see a ‘rain’ type photograph I will be more attentive to see what makes it work, whether it be lighting, colour accents or simply the content