#720. Drop it ! And start training.

By pascaljappy | How-To

May 09

This is me walking the walk. Have mercy!



It started out innocently enough. Philippe and I were chatting over Skype (we do that) when those clouds appeared over the horizon. I run to the camera, knowing how fleeting those moments are when everything in nature lines up, and get there … too late. The usual 😉

But hold on. One of us keeps pestering others that they should be training their creativity and their vision constantly. The other is Philippe. Time for me to publically walk the walk, mebbe ? So the camera stays on. 7% battery and 92 spots left on the card. Time to pick a subject and work it while the storm and the gear last.

And why not study drops ? I’ve never done those before and it doesn’t look easy. Turns out it isn’t. Still, I decide to try to portray them in as many different ways as possible in this brief session. Varying apertures, speeds, directions, angles, ideas …


Ruh … bish #1


Ten minutes or so later, working from Sony’s funtastically exciting raw files under dreadful light almost convinces me to get back to the stuff people are paying me for. Even with some manipulation, most remain very gloomy and uninteresting. But no, those really drab photographs are just one of the many aspects depicted in the lot and they still serve their purpose by showing the distribution of drops on the terrace while conveying the mood. It’s a start.


Ruh … bish #2


Time to narrow down on a more specific idea. So here comes a set showing drops as they smash into the wooden floor, at smaller apertures and with a post-processing meant to highlight the structure of the impacts.



Going deeper into magnification, making the most of the sensor’s high pixel count and the lens’ ridiculous sharpness, here’s a small sequence of how individual drops form little craters, then morph into little yoghurt jars spewing out a small volcano of even smaller droplets, then succumb agonizingly to entropy and melt down into the primordial communal puddle. Interference patterns ribbed for your visual pleasure.



This may not look like much but the storytelling potential is enormous. I find it fascinating that the energy of a small drop is able to raise a much larger bubble of water and a multitude of droplets into such a perfect shape. Forces in nature have no choice but to self-organise into the simplest possible patterns, which is one of my professional obssessions in organisational management. Also, isn’t it fascinating that, during the event, the pointwhere the drop fell is actually drier than the area around it. A photographic koan if ever there was one !

Time to look up, not down, and further out. Upstream, so to speak, back towards the spawning mothership clouds. A fragment of blue sky provides some background interest. Focusing at 5 meters, I catch a swarm of tiny drops on their way to yoghurt jar manufacturing. Focused at 2, the lens isolates fewer drops at various stages of depth of field compatibility and transparency.




Now, horizontally. Focused at infinity, zilch. Wide open and focused on the cascade falling off the roof, a few drops reveal their shape in the razor-thin zone of sharp focus (those are falling, not stuck on my window).



Window closed, floor drenched, time to focus even closer on the glass itself. Wildly inconsistent colour temperature aside, this reveals the shape of side impact. Gone are the brutal craters and yoghurt explosions of head one encounter with the wet floor. Here, each impact reveals a ghostly fly-on-the-windscreen shape that rapidly blends into the liquid drapes flowing down the wet surface.



A sudden burst of hail provides another opportunity to start over, but I find that even harder to make any sense of and, mercifully, the card is full. Two for the road, then …



… and a family portrait under parting clouds.



Starting with clouds, ending with clouds



So, would I hang any of these on my wall ? No ! But this is a practise session, an exploration of what’s possible in different conditions and with a new topic. And in the end, what do you think ? Waste of your time and my 7% battery or worthy training drill for finding new photographic stories and their corresponding technique ? What say you ?


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I LOVE it, Pascal – I should tell you, though, that this is the kind of stuff I get up to – I recently bought a special high speed trigger so that I can get one shot, this winter, that I spotted last August, and it’s in a similar vein.

    I’ve seen heaps of shots of water droplets over the years – but yours are a whole new ball game, a new dimension, highly creative, and a credit to your passion for photography. 🙂 We learn by exploring, and by trying new ideas.

  • Cliff Whittaker says:

    Looks like a fun experiment. Might try some of it myself.
    I recently got a surprise when I was shooting birds on a rainy day and found that I was stopping some rain drops in good detail in the plane of focus around the bird. Also, when birds hopped from one limb to another while I was shooting continuous high I captured good detail in the water drops falling from the limbs.
    Nothing earth shattering, but it was an interesting discovery, and it might be something I’ll try to use in the future.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Exactly. Stumble on something visually interesting then try to think about how you could turn it into a proper subject. I’ll need another downpoor and will probably try some things differently, but the idea will be making progress. Let me know if you manage to use the water as you mean to in the future 🙂

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      If all else fails, at least you can drink the stuff! 🙂

      Tomorrow morning’s shoot is a walk on the wild side – a friend of mine has been stood down on full pay (along with all his co-workers), following a death at work, while Work Safe carries out a full investigation into the circumstances that lead to the poor guy’s death – so he’s filling in time tomorrow (at least) by taking the pair of us and both our dogs up into the hills (they call them the “Darling Ranges”, but Pascal will confirm that’s a slight exaggeration 🙂 ) so that we can try to photograph some of the local eagles. Hmm – where have I put my $15,000 bird photography zoom lens? No raindrops, though – half way through autumn, and it’s scarcely rained at all, since we were buried in an unseasonal deluge in the middle of summer.

  • Kristian Wannebo says:


    ( I once waited for a drop to fall off my canoe paddle and make a nice bounce in the water as a foreground for a landscape in haze…
    It took my Zeiss rangefinder most of a roll of 4.5x6cm film.)

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