While these pictures may just look like a feature on the Filey Summer season, this is Random International‘s Barbican installation; “Rain Room”.  What might seem to be lots of people wandering about in the rain actually has a twist; they all manage to remain bone dry.  To employ a dated and unfunny slice of pop culture, “Now for the science bit…”

The best way that I can describe the feature is that it’s like an optimist’s version of the individual cartoon rain cloud that follows grumpy characters around.  By that, I mean that while the rest of the room is drowning under a torrent of water, a zone around each person remains dry.  As you walk in any direction, sensors detect where you’re moving and turn off the rain in that position.

Even with the creators demonstrating the ability of the system, it still took a little nerve to walk into the downpour carrying a couple of D4 bodies with lenses and a microphone.  One thing that should be noted if you go along, don’t try walking too fast.  My initial venture left me a little damp and it has to be said that the system’s not entirely bulletproof but 99% of the time you get the desired effect.

Recalling my basic photography lessons of my teenage years, shooting this was like those first experiments with photographing waterfalls and rivers in the Peak District for that Flickr-tastic creamy-water effect.  After initial experiments with using faster shutter speeds to catch the blizzard effect illustrated in the first picture, the general consensus while sitting down to edit with the other photographers that shot the event was that slower speeds were the key.

As I shot this a few weeks ago, I thought the time had passed to feature it but I only just noticed that the installation is in place until Spring next year.  Running from October 4, 2012 to March 3, 2013, “Rain Room” is free to experience and can be found in “The Curve” area of the Barbican centre.  Go see it, liquid-lover!

10 Responses to “Rain Room at the Barbican”

  1. Great effects – they obviously thought about the lighting as well. I think the very first shot will prove the most memorable for me, that and the girl reading the newspaper!

    Posted by Sandeha Lynch
  2. Great pics – I shot this when the room was in development – wish I’d thought of that newspaper shot -Bravo!

    Posted by Paul Rogers
  3. @Sandeha – Yeah, it was nice to shoot something that was totally set-up for a strong visual image. The only downside if I had to be ultra picky was that the shots looked good even when it was just a bloke stood in the middle of it so trying to think of something beyond that proved that challenge.

    @Paul – Cheers bud! Someone suggested that they wanted to set up a shot with an umbrella which totally missed the point to me so I started thinking of the exact opposite; what couldn’t you do if you were actually stood in the middle of torrential rain? After pondering laptops and books, I ended up going back after wiring my first set to try the newspaper!

    Posted by tabascokid
  4. Why does the best idea always occur after the pack have gone? Just one of life’s mysteries….

    Posted by Paul Rogers
  5. Stunning pictures Mr Neal – may have to drop by…

    Posted by Nick Morrison
  6. Pic 3 looks suspiciously like you in silhouette wearing a hat. I’m probably wrong. Nice set bud. Hope you are well.

    Posted by Will
  7. @Paul – I couldn’t possibly say… ;)

    @Nick – Thanks, Captain! Well worth a look if you can get there when the queues aren’t so long.

    @Will – How dare you suggest someone has the same powerful profile as myself? ;) Cheers, m’dears!

    Posted by tabascokid
  8. Simply Beautiful.

    Posted by Tom Ashmore
  9. I’d love to know the settings you used to take these photographs!

    Posted by JD
  10. Not having my archive connected to this mac, I can’t tell you exactly but I was shooting manually at a reasonably slow shutter speed, probably around 100th/sec if I remember correctly. I’ll take a look when I get chance and get back to you!

    Posted by tabascokid

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