Getting Creative in Rainy Cityscapes


Have you ever wondered why rainy days are just great for staring longer at things? I mean, it's pleasing to one's gaze somehow. This moody aesthetic comes with a great tool for us photographers, and today I want to share my thoughts on making gorgeous-looking cityscape images during the rainy season.

Some technicalities

Imagine you are trying to capture a gorgeous detail on the ground you stumbled upon while walking down a street close by. Suddenly, you remember that a subject like this might benefit from using a rich aperture value, so you go with something generous like f/3.5.

Under bright lighting conditions, using this aperture would require you to compensate via ISO and shutter speed. Low ISO is great for delivering the best quality, so we are good on that side. Left alone, shutter speed will do the work for us by closing fast, like 1/500th of a second 1/1000 of a second, or even faster!

On a general level, landscape and cityscape photography usually benefit from slower exposition values. Therefore, you might expect to avoid such requirements from your scene. And that's when the weather comes into play!

Cloudy, overcast and rainy weather conditions are perfect for naturally slowing our shutter speeds. Is like having a free softbox on top of your scene delivering the most soothing light ever. Even for us human beings is easier on the eye when the light is dimmed a bit don't you think?

Simple Ideas on Storytelling Photographs for Rainy Cityscapes

Nowadays, amidst the ubiquitous presence of precooked content online, storytelling is the ultimate goal to achieve; applies to both visual and textual media. Reaching such heights is a tremendous task, so we've come up with a bunch of ideas for you to start forcing your creative nature out of its box.

Look for Rain-drops

These are the building blocks of the visual feast we are surrounded by when embarking to photograph in rainy conditions. And by looking for drops, think beyond trying the capture them via the aid of a fast shutter speed. Look for crystal-clear droplets that have landed on windows or leaves. These will be challenging of course, so are a great excuse for experimenting with interesting compositions like a Dutch angle or even a macro approach.

Look for Reflections

Ponds and small patches of water are perfect for mirroring alternate realities surrounding ourselves. About reflections, earlier this week I saw a girl on Instagram using her phone to create fantastic-looking reflections. Honestly, any wet surface could do the trick!

Look for People

Light-rain conditions conduce people to behave in poetic ways, and capturing such behaviour is one of the most exquisite experiences I've had when doing street imagery. No matter if you are on the streets with your camera or behind a hazy window from a comfortable small cafe, images of people walking down the rain offer great subjects for telling stories with our cameras or phones.

Check the Weather!

Really, some cities are quite unpredictable when it comes to weather. Simple tools like weather-apps are sufficient for guaranteeing a decent amount of control about what to expect regarding rainy conditions during the day. Nevertheless, Mother Nature always find ways to surprise us.

Welcome, to a Visual Buffet!

rainy street
Photo by Jack Finnigan
rain bokeh
Photo by Joyce Romero
rainy empty street
Photo by Mohammad Saaraan
rainy street silhouettes
Photo by Gil Ribeiro
gray window rain
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez
people with umbrellas street
Photo by Ryoji Iwata
woman in the rain
Photo by Rich Soul
rain autumn leaves
Photo by Eilis Garvey
pigeons rainy street
Photo by Fraser Cottrell
raindrops window
Photo by Robin van der Ploeg
rainy summer cityscape
Photo by Jorge Roman

Don't know how to improve your rain photography? Check out this Creativity Catalog! Get instant access to download this 207-page guide covering 20 chapters of creativity-sparking assignments and ideas!

raindrops cloudy skies
Photo by Valentin Muller
red umbrella
Photo by Erik Witsoe
window with raindrops
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters
rainy cityscape old city
Photo by Viacheslav Bida
red umbrella portrait
Photo by Aline de Nadai
reflection rain city
Photo by Dan Calderwood
hazy window rainy day
Photo by Alexander Popov
woman looking through a rainy window
Photo by Alec Douglas
street portrait rainy day
Photo by Jon Ly
raindrops window
Photo by Eilis Garvey
a person walking down a street with a rainbow in the background
Photo by Federico Alegría

Oh, and don't forget a good jacket or an umbrella if your camera isn't weather-sealed — just like mine!

Further Reading:

About Author

Federico has a decade of experience in documentary photography, and is a University Professor in photography and research methodology. He's a scientist studying the social uses of photography in contemporary culture who writes about photography and develops documentary projects. Other activities Federico is involved in photography are curation, critique, education, mentoring, outreach and reviews. Get to know him better here.

This is an impressive collection that really showcases how rain presents opportunities for artistic expression and encourages us to venture out, experiment, and embrace the beauty that can be found in the rain.

Thank you for the article!

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