Using Rain & Fog To Create Mood In Your Architecture Images

Spring is finally upon us! Which means changing weather patterns and oftentimes higher amounts of rain and fog. Instead of packing up your gear, why not use these fleeting conditions to your advantage to create something unique.

Let’s talk about rain first. Either find an indoor location and look for raindrops on the windows, or glass atriums. Like I did in this shot of a building at Wells & Madison in Chicago. Granted, I only managed this one shot before getting kicked out, but it was worth it for a couple of reasons…to dry off for a minute and get something unique 😉

Another place I took cover from the intermittent rain was under the Nuage Promenade in Miami. These colorful glass circles covered in raindrops add even more interest to the image. Making it stand out from what you might typically see here.

Or, instead of showing them on the glassy area, focus on how they dangle from the edge of the structure. It’s all about finding layers and additional elements of interest to tell a more interesting story.

The raindrops can add a nice, dramatic, moody layer to your shots as well. Be sure to adjust your depth of field to get the effect you want. For example, these two shots from Tribune Tower in Chicago looking west toward the Wrigley Building and down the river. In the first shot, I focused my camera on the Wrigley Building in the background (shot in aperture priority at f/4.0). In the second shot, I focused on the raindrops on the window (aperture priority again, f/10).

The reason the apertures needed to be changed is related to how close to the camera the area of interest is (in this case, the raindrops and the Wrigley Building). With the first shot, using f/4 and focusing on the Wrigley Building allows the raindrops and window frame to go soft while keeping the buildings in the background in focus. In the shot where I wanted more attention on the raindrops, I had to use a smaller aperture, f/10, because of how close those raindrops were to my camera. Had I used f/4, the Wrigley Building would have been too soft and unrecognizable. I needed the city in the background to be somewhat distinguishable to tell the story.

If you don’t want to venture out in the rain, head out just after it stops. Lots of great opportunities for puddles or rain on other surfaces. First, a glass railing at Navy Pier.

navy pier chicago

Or, on the Bean.

the bean, anish kapoor

In both cases, the rain warps the scene and adds another layer to the image.

At Milton Lee Olive Park there are these marble benches that had pools of water. By getting the camera close to that surface, I get the city reflecting plus the rain adds another layer of interest to the image. Also distorting the reflected scene.

chicago skyline

Oftentimes you’ll also get some fog or low clouds and the sun peeking out which adds even more interest to the shot.

Moving onto fog…

Take a lookup as the buildings disappear into the low-level fog above.

chase tower

Or, how the buildings fade away into the fog looking straight ahead.

chicago bridges

brooklyn bridge, nyc skyline

Or, see how it creates interesting patterns from afar.

john hancock building, fog, chiacago cityscape

And, if you get the opportunity, find a way to get elevated. Especially when you get that dense, low fog. In larger cities with tall buildings, it’s a great way to see them peeking above the fog and clouds.

chicago skyline

chicago skyline, lincoln park,fog

Less dense fog can create what feels like a filter over the buildings. Like you see here at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Oftentimes, these two weather conditions go hand in hand. So, be sure to get out there and use them to your advantage. Given they’re fleeting, you might get something truly one of a kind!



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