Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Dew drop in

The newest Readers Photo Challenge assignment is all wet, specifically, the subject is water drops. Now you may think summer is the wrong time for water drops and you may have a point. True, California is usually bone dry this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find or create images of water droplets.

(5/27/08) Water drops on a rose blossom in Walnut Grove. (Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 50mm macro. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/8.0. ISO: 400) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

If by some miracle we get some rain in the next few weeks, you’ll probably have to work fast. It will probably be warm and whatever rain that falls will evaporate quickly. Flowers, leaves, branches and blades of grass are good places to look. Make sure you’re sheltered from any wind. Not only will a breeze cause your subject to move, making it hard to focus, but it can also shake off what little water drops there may be

(4/2/13) Rain drops cover a cape plumbago in Clifford Oto’s backyard.(Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 50mm macro. Exposure: 1/500th sec. @ f/2.5. ISO: 100) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

But rain is very unlikely, so what can you do? Sprinklers are a good substitute for a downpour. After you water your garden or lawn there’s bound to be droplets clinging to the plants in your landscaping.

(3/22/20) Water drops cling to a emerald and gold euonymus bush in Clifford Oto’s backyard. (Camera: Canon EOS 1DX Mark II. Lens: Canon 50mm macro. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/9. ISO: 200) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON

You can target a specific plant or flower with spray bottle filled with water. Use a fine spray and you can rain a gentle mist down onto whatever you want to take a photo of. This great way to take water drop photos because you can direct exactly how much or how little water you want in your picture.

(1/29/17) Water drops condense on the outside of a water goblet. (Camera: Canon EOS 20DZ. Lens: Canon 50mm macro. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

You can also look for water drops as condensation. Simply take a soda can out of the fridge or fill a glass with ice water and within a few minutes moisture from the warmer surrounding air with bead up on the surfaces of the cup or can. Try using light coming from the side or even behind to really make the drops stand out.

(8/20/06) A studio photo of water drops into a cup. (Camera: Nikon D2x. Lens: Nikkor 16-35mm @ 35mm. Exposure: f/22 @ 1/250th sec. ISO: 100. Dynalite flash) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

An advanced technique is capturing a water drop as it splashes into a cup or other receptacle. This could get messy so I’d suggest laying down some plastic or do it outside so that you won’t get things soaking wet. Fill a cup bowl or saucer with water (the shallower the vessel the more the water will “rebound” up), and get an eyedropper or something that will release drops of water one at a time. I also suggest putting your camera on a tripod and pre-focusing it on a certain spot and dropping the water drop on that spot. You’ll have to use a fast shutter speed to stop the motion of the water (1/500th of a second or faster). The timing of your shot will take a lot of practice and many attempts to get it right. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a long time. The results will be worth it. Try using backlighting or side lighting for the best results.

(4/10/12) Rain drops cling to apple leaves on a tree in Walnut Grove. Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 50mm macro. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

Those who have a macro lens or closeup filters may have an advantage with this assignment. After all, images of water drops are essentially close-ups. But a telephotos lens set at its closest focus will do in a pinch and you can get macro filters for your smartphone cameras as well. Just try to get as close to your subject as possible.

(1/20/17) Rain drops cling to the branches of a bare sycamore tree highlighted by a out of focus street lamp in the background at DeCarli Waterfront Square in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D32. Lens: Nikon 70-200mm w/1.4 extender @ 340mm. Exposure: 1/250th sec. @ f/4.8. ISO: 1600) [CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD STOCKTON]

How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to The preferred format is jpeg. Type in “water drops” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be taken between September 15 and September 29.

3. The number of photos is limited to 10.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, the kind of device you used, how you got your close up and where the photo was taken (eg.: John Doe of Stockton, Canon Rebel T6i with 50mm macro lens. At Victory Park in Stockton).

5. If there is a recognizable person or persons in the photo please identify them (name, age, hometown) and describe what is going on in the photo (eg.: “My dog Fido licks water drops off of the leaves of a bush at Victory Park in Stockton”). Please indicate how they are related to you (friend, mother, father, daughter, son, etc).

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is September 29. The top examples will be published on October 6 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day at

(4/10/12) Rain drops cling to a dandelion in Walnut Grove. Camera: Canon EOS 20D. Lens: Canon 50mm macro. Exposure: 1/125th sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200) [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

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