Travel Photography on a Rainy Day in New York City
It was October 2nd, 2012 and I was enjoying my Autumn in New York. This was my first train vacation and my first attempt at travel photography. After I took the Cardinal 50 from Cincinnati to Washington DC, I then continued my trip on the Northeast regional to New York City. I spent my first and second day in the city that suffers from insomnia with near perfect weather. The third day proved a totally different scenario. Although it was two weeks before Superstorm Sandy would rumble through Lower Manhattan, the rain was forecasted to be a big, fat, constant downpour after lunch.
The morning started off with a hazy sky with a brisk chill in the air. I ventured back to Roosevelt Island to take in some of the solitude before charging headfirst into the city.
If you want to get good candid shots in a “touristy” town like New York City, you have to do your best to not look like a tourist. Instead of carrying a camera bag, I used a messenger bag with a towel from the hotel in it. I had a 70-300mm, 85mm, and the 18-55mm with me for this venture. I also had a silver car window shade, that collapses to about 5 inches, to use as a reflector if I needed one. I looked like some dude walking around town, not like a tourist ripe for the picking. And by picking, I meant mugging.
My plan for the day was simple. I was going to try to get in as much running around in before the afternoon deluge thwarted my fun. Unfortunately, my ticket for the 9/11 Memorial Park was scheduled for 3pm, right in the middle of the forecasted heaviest rains.
I was out pretty early this morning. People were heading to work and making their way out on their errands. It was hazy and overcast. It made for some great wrapping light, perfect for street photography.
After leaving the Roosevelt Island Tram, I headed back up 2nd Avenue then down towards midtown from the park. It was hazy and starting to sprinkle on and off. Shooting upwards at buildings is really challenging when its raining and your lens cloth is soaked, so I made sure I could get some shots of the Art Deco buildings before the rain really started coming down.
On my way down to midtown, I got a few nice street shots of life in New York City.
Then the Heavens Opened Up
I was somewhere in the West Village when the rain started trickling out of the sky. I knew I was only a few blocks from the Ghostbuster’s Firehouse (Hook & Ladder 8). So I went to grab a few shots before the heavy stuff started coming down. I got there just in time before the deluge began. I ran underground to the the subway and back to my Long Island City hotel to stay dry and edit a few shots before heading back out to the 9/11 memorial later that afternoon.
After downloading the images and a light lunch. I headed back to the Financial District to the 9/11 Memorial.
It was absolutely pouring. I was wearing a mid length Gortex jacket and a pair of Timberland hiking boots lined with Gortex. The messenger bag I was using as a camera bag, was a nylon bag coated with a wax so the water just beaded up and rolled off. The only part of me getting wet was the area from mid-thigh to above the ankle.
The rain actually added to the mood of the 9/11 site. The mood was solemn. The drone of the water in the fountains, the sound of the raindrops tinking off the museum’s glass windows, and the far off sounds of traffic gave way to the introspection for visitors of the tragedies that occurred right under their feet.
New York City is such a great city for a photographer. The people, the culture, the architecture, and the overall madness makes for wonderful photographs. Unfortunately, my time was over in New York City and I was to leave in the middle of the night to head onto the Amtrak Northeast Regional to Boston.