Rain on Me

How to shoot raindrop refraction portraits.


Eye of the StormEye of the Storm I love shooting anything with water, and raindrop refraction is one of my favorite projects. In particular, I've been inspired by portraits involving raindrops, and so I went on a quest to shoot a series called Rain on Me, a collection of self-portraits using a raindrop refraction technique. In this blog, I'll show you how it's done.


This technique is not very difficult, requires little equipment, and very little knowledge of Photoshop or Lightroom (or whatever editing software you prefer to use). This kind of shoot does require patience and time, but clean-up is minimal (compared to other wet shoots).


So first, below are some of the shots from the Rain on Me series, and following that is a diagram and quick instructions on how it was done.




The Void

The Void


Army of OneArmy of One

Army of One








I had a great time with this project. It was simple to put together, took very little time to setup, and the finished products were often quite surprising. To shoot this, I used the setup shown below:

All that was needed was one light, sitting up at a standard portrait height, slightly above the subject (which was me). This was just an inexpensive speedlight inside a cheap softbox triggered remotely. The camera was a Nikon D600 with a Tokina Macro lens. I used a black backdrop, which could be anything you want (black cloth, paper, etc.)


The only prop used was a thin sheet of plexiglass that I picked up at Home Depot for about $15. I hung the plexiglass from a backdrop stand so that the bottom edge was at my eye height. I then used a spritzer bottle to spray water drops on the plexiglass so that some of the drops hung from the bottom.


Using a tripod, I then focused on the water drops, which act as a lens, turning the subject behind it upside down. I set the depth of field shallow enough (about f/5.6 on the 100mm lens focused about 20" away) and then stepped behind the plexi. With a wireless shutter remote I would fire a series of shots with me standing at various distances from the plexi.


I then used Photoshop to rotate the images to ensure the horizon line was even (using guides). I would also tweek things a bit, like sharpening, toning, saturation (or desaturate), etc. This was the fun part as these shots didn't require hours of special effects editing, and instead just let me have fun with colors and such.


And that's all there is to it! So what are you waiting for? Grab your gear, and go get wet!


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