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A rainy day has its own sparkle

Fog contributes a sense of intrigue to photos taken on a rainy day.

By Joanne Ciccarello /Assistant Photo Editor of The Christian Science Monitor / March 24, 2008

Joanne Ciccarello - staff


Contrary to popular photographic wisdom, I enjoy taking pictures when it rains: The light is flat but the wet surfaces have their own kind of sparkling highlights. Reflections off the puddles add dimension and depth to the scene. Colors emit an ethereal glow. Darker areas have more texture. Light spaces retain definition instead of turning into white blobs requiring darkroom or digital calisthenics to deliver tonality. Fog contributes mystery like a scene from a Victorian thriller set in London. We see only what is immediately before our eyes. Distance has been obscured. Instead, we find an intimate space – like hiding under the covers as a child.

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I find that timing when photographing fog is more precise than one would expect. Wait too long and the cloud will descend, hiding all detail. Photograph it too soon and there is still too much detail to create the sense of intrigue that the soft mist encourages.

Behind this fog – not more than a mile from where I was standing – is a city skyline. On an average day, Boston's skyscrapers would take over, dwarfing the park in the foreground, diminishing the curve of the lamp, and disrupting the pattern of the tree branches. The fog and the flat light are what give the park center stage. I have photographed here many times. But it was this gray day that brought a small urban space to life for me.