Photogram Series ‘Rain Studies’ Was Created Without a Camera

photo paper rain drops rain studies series

A photogram is an image made on photographic paper by placing an object directly on its surface while exposing it to brief amounts off light. No camera is involved in the process; in fact the technique is also referred to as camera-less photography. Very interesting results emerge from this process, with white to black and various degrees of gray in between. Photographer Klea McKenna is one to dabble in the technique, and her latest series, Rain Studies “is an ongoing series of unique 20 x 24 inch gelatin silver photograms of rain. They are made using rain in both Hawaii and Northern California.”

droplets on photo paper

Light, photographic paper and rain is all it takes to create these images which McKenna says took many nights working outdoors until she eventually developed her technique for capturing rain patterns in a way she wanted. The process is hardly an exact science, and is still very random in the results. McKenna says there are just too many variables that come into play such as the light and the rain itself.

raindrops on photo paper

Rain Studies began during a visit to a childhood home in Hawaii. Early pieces of the photograms are imprints from the heavy tropical rains in the state. McKenna would bring the lighter, gentler rain images of Northern California into the series. Every storm has its own unique imprint, according to McKenna.

droplets on photo paper

For her, she connects and perceives a place, almost feeling it through the imprints on the paper.

“As you can imagine it has taken me a long to time to develop this method and while I am happy to talk about it and share it, I don’t really want to publish all the technical details. Explaining every detail can take a bit of the magic out of the work, which I would rather not do. This work reflects my own sense of wonder and I appreciate eliciting wonder in viewers too. I’m sure you understand. And to be honest, there really is no secret, they are much like traditional photograms and are simply the result of close observation of nature, trial and error and a lot of curiosity and patience.”

camera-less photogram of droplets

You can see the remarkable rain images in her website.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.