Spring rains

Critique Style Requested: In-depth

The photographer has shared comprehensive information about their intent and creative vision for this image. Please examine the details and offer feedback on how they can most effectively realize their vision.

Self Critique

A double exposure ICM. I attempted here to mimic the appearance of rain coming down. Compositionally, I tussled with various compositions and aspect ratios none of which really seemed too hit right for me.

Creative direction

This was largely an experiment, but I was pleased with the overall Spring / life vibe to it.

Specific Feedback

Have I balanced it well? Is it conveyed properly in the current aspect ratio? Should it be Vertical rather than horizontal with the in-focus blade taking center stage. I went back and fourt so much with it I almost walked away from it.

Technical Details

Double exposure on a Nikon D850. First, ISO 64 at 200 mm f2.8 x 1/1000 s for the sharp grass. Second, with a 3 stop ND and out of focus with slight movement during the exposure.


Backlight morning dew on lawn grass.

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This is lovely and creative! I’m a sucker for dewy grass and bokeh. The moving rain adds a cool dimension to that. I like your framing here and wouldn’t go for a vertical crop. Maybe a touch off the left side (5x7 ratio maybe?) if you felt like it, but it works as presented.

The soft background of the rain drops is nice, but it has a bit of a cool feel. I could see increasing the contrast+saturation just a bit to emphasize the spring vibe even more. Here’s my idea (I had to try to see if I liked my own idea - ha.)

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All great ideas, thanks! I’ve been intentionally going undersaturated on some images lately, but it didn’t fit for this one. That grass is warm verdant green in reality, especially being backlit. I like what you did with it!

James, this is wonderful! Very creative. We have been getting so much rain here in Denver. Quite unusual for us but your image fits perfectly with the conditions here lately. I like Bonnie’s recommendations. The extra punch really highlights the grass. I think your composition is nicely balanced. Glad you didn’t discard the image. My only nit is the sun flare in the right of center. It can probably be cloned out but there are some Photoshop techniques using curves to reduce it.

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A successful experiment I would say. I think your intent of showing the appearance of rain falling was accomplished. My immediate reaction was star trails, oh wait, rain. Very nice.

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Thanks for the comments thus far on this experimental image, it was a big help. I went in and tweaked a few things: temperature, tint, added a hint of haze, upped some shadows and blacks to reduce overall contrast, and dealt with some of the distracting “rain drops”. A minor crop to deal with the distracting lower left corner. Anyway, here is version two taking in your ideas.

Any other nit picks in there on your end? When enlarged just a bit you can definitely see some chromatic aberration on some of the dew drops – both in focus and out of focus. They don’t bother me much, but I could see addressing them too. Cheers.

Thank you, Alfredo! Nice to hear from you. I agree with you on that one spot in right center. I stared at it a bit and it was an annoyance. I toned it down and adjusted its overall white balance for the second version. Cloning kind of worked but there’s a blade of grass behind it that was throwing that all into a mess. Doable, but I opted to tone it down first. Thanks!

Thanks, Dean. Yeah, what brought me into it was seeing how the effect was playing out in the moment. I grabbed a few frames before moving on, but this one stuck with me and so I kept coming back to it over the past year. Figured I might as well share it since it’s Spring and my lawn is begging to be mowed. Cheers.

This is super cool James. I love it. My only nitpick is the blend seems a little obvious at the center of the frame, but unfortunately, I’m not really sure how you would address that. Maybe someone else has an idea.

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Hey, Matt! Thanks, appreciate the thoughts. It’s been growing on me this week so it’s been helpful to hear people’s ideas. I may give it another whack over some coffee tomorrow morning.

The blending was the interesting part of this since its a double exposure done in camera. So this image is the RAW file created from two frames that the camera put it together. It sure does look like an exposure blend of two separate images, though, you suggested. That said, balance between foreground and background could definitely be looked at. Cheers.

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Yeah you’re treading into territory I have zero experience in, so good luck haha! I think its a fantastic idea!

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Thank you! This experimental image keeps coming back to me, grateful for all the suggestions!

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James, I think this is where manual multi-exposures can be beneficial. It offers more flexibility in combining the images in Photoshop. I can see what Matt means about the transition. The “abrupt” transition from grass to “rain” is less pronounced when viewing the image large. Perhaps one way to soften the transition is to

  1. Copy the upper half of the image
  2. Add it as its own layer
  3. Move the layer down
  4. Add a black mask
  5. Gradually reveal the rain drops where the out of focus grass is
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That’s a great idea, thank you. Agreed on the ME approach. When I do them I have it set up to record each image as a RAW file in camera so I can go back into the files if I want to and do a manual blend.

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An experiement with a successful outcome! This is very creative and I think you have achieved your goal of creating the effect of falling rain; in fact, given the title and then the image, I didn’t think otherwise. How else could one have sharp grass and moving water drops?

I didn’t notice or certainly think about the “transition” despite the comments and looking at this a few times. Like most things in our photography, we each have different visions and responses to things. I think you’ve blended these beautifully.

My only suggestion has already been mentioned and that’s the mult-colored falling raindrop below center right. IMO, that looks more like a prism effect than a lens flare, but regardless it’s the one spot in the frame that mildly distracts the eye (even though I like the pretty colors!) :slight_smile:

Well done! Very creative and thanks for sharing this.


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Thank you, Lon, I appreciate your comments. I’ll continue working with it and looking at the other frames from that morning. The wide aperture helped to really control DOF on the two frames that the camera blended.