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Photographing Raindrops

Techniques > Photographing Raindrops

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Category: Close-Up

Photographing Raindrops On Windows - Raindrops on windows produce interesting patterns which can be photographed with ease.

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As winter approaches we're going to see many more days of rain but this shouldn't stop you taking photographs. Instead, use the weather to your advantage to capture great raindrop patterns on windows from the comfort of your home.

All you need for this technique is a camera with close focus capabilities. That covers most types of cameras including compacts.

Ideally the camera should have some form of creative exposure mode that will allow you to shoot at different apertures. It would also help if you had a tripod to steady the camera.


Choose a window that has interesting raindrop patterns and that is facing a plain background. The background should be a long way of so a window into a garden with trees, grass or a fence at a good distance is ideal.

Make sure the window is clean! Any fingerprints or smears will show up. Double glazed windows should be in good condition free of condensation.

Set your camera up on a tripod and point it at the window. Make sure the camera back is parallel to the window for the best results.

Focus on the drops. You may have to use manual if your camera has it because the drops can sometimes confuse the focusing sensor so it misses them. On double glazing some cameras may be fooled by the closer inner layer so manual focus is a really useful option.

Move the camera position to get the best range of drops in the frame and watch the background for change in tone. If there's an area where the tips of shrubs meet lighter sky and that's in the photo it will spoil the result. Move either up so you just have sky or down so you just have shrubs as a backdrop.

Now set an aperture to its widest setting so the background is thrown totally out of focus.  If you have a compact with no manual control but with scene modes try taking pictures at different scene modes and compare the results to see if one throws the background out of focus. This will usually be something like portrait, food or close up mode, not landscape or infinity modes.

The choice of background can really make a difference. A light  background such as a sky will often result in the droplets having a darker more defined outline while a dark background will make the centres of the droplets more prominent.

Notice also that the droplets act like miniature lenses and present an upside down image of the background in each concave shape. If you adjust focus you can make these images appear sharper to become part of the creative picture.  But that's another technique!

You may not have noticed, but raindrops are not always the same on windows. If it's heavy rain the drops tend to be large and blobby after a short shower the droplets are much neater and the best sort to photograph. They look the type you'd see on a spiders web, all almost perfectly round.

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