Raindrops On Leaves


Reflecting upon these raindrops, I’m drawn more to their immediate journey than my usual inclination to trace subject matter back to its beginnings—perhaps because the first appearance of water is not yet fully understood. What is known relative to the earth is that gravity keeps water contained. None of it escapes into space. According to the United States Geological Survey: “If the total amount of water vapor fell as precipitation all at once, the Earth would be covered with only about one inch of water.” But “If all the world’s water was poured on the contiguous United States, it would cover the land to a depth of about 107 miles.”

Getting back to the image, each of these drops and droplets began to take shape as invisible molecules of water vapor high in the atmosphere by attaching themselves to a nearly invisible dust particle. As more and more molecules attached—coalesced—and their weight increased, gravity pulled them down through the atmosphere causing even more coalescence. When a gazillions of these infant droplets grouped together, attracted by their electrical charges, their size increased even more to form a cloud where more attraction and more coalescence resulted in drops that literally, well, drop. The coalescence continues even when the drops splatter and run.

Notice, the drops in this image did not land on the leaf and line up this way. Their sizes and alignments are a product of their travels, conditioned by the physical forces and electrical fields they encounter along the way. Already, they are changing state, evaporating into the atmosphere. In the liquid state drops of water assume a rounded shape because a sphere requires the least amount of energy to form and has the least possible area for the volume it encloses. That makes it the most economical, energy-efficient way of enclosing and separating two volumes of space—water and surface. Aside from the physics, I love the aesthetics—how the drops are transparent and reflect the sky. Earth and sky integrated.

Another feature that comes to mind when contemplating this image is the water cycle, its change of state: liquid—vapor—solid (ice). It’s a perfect metaphor for transformation because water is constantly changing. Like the universe and all it contains, there is rising and falling. Birth and death. Breathing in, breathing out. Lub dub, lub dub. Drip. Drip.

In preparing this post, I was delighted to find Ken Wilber’s quote in my database. It beautifully conveys the transcendent perspective, connecting being with perception. Having enjoyed a career as a visual communicator, I appreciate the significance of perception and the opportunity to expand it. We become more by seeing ourselves as more. Indeed, looking deeply generates appreciation. And that can take us to the place where we are the sun, the rain and the earth.


You in the very immediateness of your present awareness, are in fact the entire world, in all its frost and fever, in all its glories and its grace, in all its triumphs and its tears. You do not see the sun, you are the sun; you do not hear the rain, you are the rain; you do not feel the earth, you are the earth.

Ken Wilber


About This Image


Raindrops On A Leaf

Theme: Coalescence

File #: DC 3448

Linda’s Garden Cincinnati, Ohio

September 9, 2009


It was late evening and after a hard rain. Linda’s garden was dripping wet. I took a rubber gardener’s mat to kneel on, and set my digital camera on a tripod with a macro lens. I did nothing to alter either the leaves or the drops. They were as you see them. The exposure dial was set on “automatic.” In Photoshop I darkened the background shadows to eliminate some distracting elements.

© Copyright, David L. Smith, 2014. The images and the associated contemplations on this site are protected against any and all commercial and promotional use without the permission of  the author. However, permission is granted for individuals to download the images and print them for private, non-commercial, non-promotional use.

5 thoughts on “Coalescence

  1. Normally I don’t learn article on blogs, however
    I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so!

    Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very
    nice article.


  2. Anyone can take a photo of water droplets on a leaf, but your exquisitely creative eye, David, has created a work of art with this photo! Yes, the water droplets were there, but your inherent sense of composition, color values and depth-of-field transcend the mundane and elevate it to the ethereal. GREAT image!!!


  3. This photograph is absolutely stunning! It rises to the top of the charts for one of my favorite color photographs. The quote by Ken Wilbur is a perfect match. I appreciate the contemplation bringing me deep in to the world of the droplets on the leaf. Thanks! This is a joy!



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