Monday, January 11, 2016

The beauty of rain

A blustery rain storm hit the city just before dawn yesterday. It was really beautiful with a strong wind blowing the low clouds around the buildings and hiding parts of them. I was ready to take just a quick snapshot of the scene but had second thoughts and decided to go for a high resolution panorama image instead. For this I pulled out my Leica M 240 with the 35mm Summilux lens and captured two shots of the scene to be stitched later.

Click here to download a higher res version of this image -- not full res, but big enough to get an idea of how it looks.

The problem I faced was trying to preserve the raindrops on the window and the background scene at the same time in two shots. Turning the camera at such a close distance would definitely have distorted the rain and left some areas completely out of focus. I decided to take the background scene as a 2-image panorama and the foreground rain drops as a single shot to be super-imposed back over the background image later. Capturing the foreground window drops required a +2 close up filter on the lens. Leica M lenses are not meant to be focused very close.

Carefully selecting the right aperture for each of the two shots was important. I was shooting through the rainy window to record the background. I wanted the drops the haze out the scene but not come in so sharp that they would interfere with the second shot of rain I planned to overlay on the scene. So for both shots I used the lens fairly wide open.

In Photoshop I laid the rain drop layer over the stitched panorama and changed its mode to Multiply. This necessitated opening up the exposure somewhat with a curve layer.

The final image is 45" wide and would probably make an really nice plexiglas print.

By evening the rain had almost stopped, the clouds moved out, and the sun peaked out from behind a cloud in the southwestern sky --  perfect conditions for a rainbow. A double rainbow appeared just to the east of the Empire State Building an hour before sunset. It doesn't get much better than that.

Click here to download a higher res version of this image. 

Realizing I probably wouldn't have much time before the rainbow dissipated, I switched to the Nikon D810 with the 24-120mm f/4 zoom on it for the rainbow photo. I knew this combo would be very quick and versatile to use and still produce a very high resolution image. 

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