Still Life in the Monsoon

Overcast skies and dramatic clouds can be used to frame solitary subjects as they make for an ominous, gloomy background. Exposure: 1/160sec at f/2.6 (ISO 50). Photograph/Egidio Bacigalupi

Overcast skies and dramatic clouds can be used to frame solitary subjects as they make for an ominous, gloomy background. Exposure: 1/160sec at f/2.6 (ISO 50). Photograph/Egidio Bacigalupi

When it rains, everything comes to a halt . Ambarin Afsar shares how you can shoot inanimate objects covered in rain and give them a new identity.

What comes to your mind when you think of the word ‘rain’? It could be a paper boat, a few umbrellas or even dripping shrubbery. You associate rain with these objects and each of them acquires a fresh, new identity during the monsoons. You can use your interpretation of rainfall and use the drenched world around you to make stunning pictures.

Even the simplest of objects can provide innumerable photographic opportunities on an overcast day. We tell you how you can capture unique aspects of various elements—a gleaming pavement, a wet bicycle or even the parapet of a window covered in droplets—and create stunning still life images.

In Your Sanctuary
Observing your own house can give you an entire photo-series on the idea of rain. Start with something as simple as the window. You will find rainwater collected in the grooves of the windowsill, dripping down the wall and creating a unique pattern.

Glance outside and you will see little droplets of water clinging to the clothesline. Take a quick look back inside your house and you might see an umbrella left to dry, nicely backlit by the soft light pouring through the window or even a pair of muddy shoes kept askew. Go on an exploring spree within the house and you will find innumerable subjects to keep you engrossed all day.

Just Around the Corner
Outside your house, children might have left a vividly coloured ball and a few toys rolling around the compound. You could even find paper boats sailing in a puddle or a drain. Frame the vividly coloured toy against a muddy background or the solitary paper boat against a rippling puddle and you will be able to make pictures that remind the viewer of the rains.

Look out for vibrant clothes fluttering and flying off in the wind for a brilliant capture. Similarly, a pile of scrap papers and plastic bags stirred up by the wind on a stormy day can provide a dramatic image. Interestingly, the surface of pipes, drains or poles covered with wet, peeling posters can lend a graphic feel to the image.

Beyond Your Neighbourhood
While travelling around the city, you can be presented with plenty of striking frames—the blurry traffic visible through a fogged-up window, taillights of cars reflected in tiny droplets on the windshield of a vehicle, water dripping from a traffic signal or even mud-splattered railway tracks. You will find glistening, still surfaces in parked bicycles, motorbikes, cars or even a bunch of umbrellas left to dry outside a shop. Alternatively, to give a more fluid look to your images, capture water slithering off shuttered windows, tiled roofs or even tarpaulin sheets.

The backgrounds you choose while framing your subject play a major role in conveying a certain mood. Do not just stick to a rainy day—even overcast or windy days can provide you with a wind-swept look or great skies to frame your subject. Be observant, pay attention to the weather and look for unusual settings that convey a message about how rain affects and interacts with different elements and objects.

Find beauty in the simplest of objects and try to capture it with your camera— you will be rewarded with images that have a strong sense of character, are reflective and poignant.

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of Better Photography.

Tags: Shooting Technique, Ambarin Afsar, Composition, july 2010, monsoon, abstract, rains, still life