... a damp photo essay on Melrose in the mist
When one retires, a rainy day provides an opportunity to catch up on paperwork -- you know, writing checks, go over the portfolio, do a letter to Cousin Elsie. But no, when one buys a new camera -- a Nikon D200 -- then a rainy day provides an opportunity to be creative, to look at familiar sites now dripping with raindrops, and a world beyond the back door, now shiny and sparkling. Like the fall leaves on our hickory tree out front, and puddles along the street, and windshield washers emphasizing a blue view of Greenwood.
So I notified the Stringers that we had a new project, and to get busy on recording this new rainy day. Of course not ALL stringers are photographers, so three responded. Me, of course, and Shirley Rabb (who loves to shoot) and Jack Beckley, who does a yeoman's job --
Imagination: Two familiar scenes -- one from the front door, one from the back -- the difference being that the storm doors are coated with mist and raindrops, and therefore our familiar scenes present something entirely different. Even the colors of fall are muted by the gray day.
Shirley came through with a prize winner. How best to capture the mood of a rainy November day than to shoot through the swooshing of one's windshield wipers -- and catch the reflective rain on the street, the wind blowing two traffic lights out of kilter, and gray overcast -- all in one photo. I award Shirley an "A" for innovation on this shot.
Switch lenses to a lovely 300 millimeter telephoto, and you catch the raindrops forming on the branches. It becomes a game to catch those drops just as they are conceived, then growing, then falling free of the hickory branch -- a short life. I must have spent 50 frames, but finally got the timing. Patience is the key, plus a quick triggerfinger.
Again, Shirley's choice of back roads through Melrose -- this one oddly enough in the Mayor's neighborhood. The unfinished street -- unfinished for the last hundred years, probably -- glistens with blue puddles, highlighted with yellow and red birch, oak and maple trees nearby. There is beauty in the rainy day; one just has to search it out.
One opens the back door and finds the storm sash gone opaque with condensation. Open it and the rain clears rivulets. And before us is one of the constant jobs a homeowner faces in November -- raking a billion leaves, now heavy with water.
Aha! Here is the raindrop series. The three pictures were selected from a mass of not-quite-right tries. But I did get one perfectly formed, brand shiney-new raindrop, falling. And this digital raindrop will live until someone, in the future, decides the electronic phenomenom that is the Melrose Mirror is no longer worthwhile.
Shirley and Donna have a dog named Casa who is a native of Puerto Rico and had a time of it learning English. But she (Casa, that is) succeeded, and now she writes travelogues. It's really amazing. Anyway, what's a poor dog to do on a rainy day except to sit on the front step and watch the rain come down. I mean, she certainly hasn't learned to use a camera. Yet.
I think it's the glamourous color of the fall leaves against the gray-blue of the storm that turns me on. Or is just the aging process? I'd say that one's outlook on life matures, but the raindrops stay the same. Always.
This is what flash can do for you in a rainstorm. At the left, in Donna's and Shirley's back yard, the illuminated raindrops take on a green hue -- the color of the background. At the right the bright round raindrops caught the blast of the flash, coming out like diamonds in the sky.
And finally we come to Director Jack Beckley's garden shot. We're not quite sure what to say, except, perhaps, that his rain-induced reservoir is about the same size as his garden. I guess what is important is that Jack went out in the rain specifically to do an assignment -- and support our program. Good for him.
So, readers, that's our essay on rain. If you have a special rainy day shot, send it to us and perhaps we can have a follow-up story. Email electronic stuff, use snail mail for prints.
January 5, 2007