Cincinnati, In Spite of the Storm

Downtown Cincinnati Light Trails Long Exposure

This past Thursday I visited Cincinnati, on my way to a retreat weekend in Kentucky (non-photography related). I knew before I arrived there were storms predicted. I was hoping some of my good weather karma would kick in and they would blow over (no such luck, as you will read in a moment). The purpose of staying one night in Cincinnati was to scout locations for my upcoming photo trip with Bryan Levy, three days in April. I am excited to see all Cincinnati has to offer (I’ve only seen some abandonment so far).

I arrived in the afternoon and decided to take one of the bridges to Kentucky to get a viewpoint of downtown Cincy from the riverfront. It was overcast, but thought I may get some long exposure shots with the fast-moving clouds.

Cincinnati Downtown Riverfront
15 seconds, f/20, ISO 100, 50mm (24-105mm Sony Lens), 6-stop Neutral Density Filter

As I was capturing the top of the Roebling suspension bridge, a tornado siren started blaring.

Roebling bridge suspension Cincinnati downtown
6 seconds, f/11, ISO 100, 66mm (24-105mm Sony Lens), 6-stop Neutral Density Filter

I thought, hmmm, this may be a good time to head back to the car. As I was walking the first raindrops started, and as I looked into the sky, I could see the storm front coming quickly. Never one to back away from a chance to photograph a storm, I decided to head into downtown itself and see if I could find a vantage point to shoot from.

As I was driving through the city, the tornado alarms seemed to be getting louder. I pulled over, and checked my weather app. It said, Tornado Warning, a tornado has been spotted three miles from your location – Take Cover. As my heart starting beating quickly, I knew it was time to be smart, and this was one of those times. Thankfully, my hotel was less than a mile away, which I drove straight to and got myself into my room post haste.

Here is an image of the torrential rain from my 9th story hotel room.

Checking the weather radar, it appeared the system would be moving out around 7:30, which is just in time for sunset. Perfect. My destination was Mt. Echo, a park with a pavilion and overlook vantage point of the city. It was 10 minutes away, to the west of the hotel.

As I arrived, the sun was out. I walked up to the pavilion and started taking photos. As the sun began to move lower in the sky (which was behind me), it cast this wonderful glow onto the pavilion’s columns and the city beyond. With the wind blowing still, I wanted to be sure to capture the flag blowing in the wind, after taking 10 or so images I captured one I liked. 

1/10 sec at f/11, ISO 100, 24mm (24-105 Sony lens)

Happy with this scene, I decided to walk towards the flag at the overlook point to get a closer view of downtown. The sun’s warm glow continued to shine on the city, with the Ohio River in the foreground. Thank you, sun! I love seeing this wonderful glow on buildings.

Cincinnati Downtown Sunset Mt Echo
1/5 second, f/22, ISO 100, 83mm (24-105mm Sony Lens)

With the sun almost set, I had to decide where to go to next. I drove along a road that skirts the riverfront through a gritty industrial area, and found several vantage points for future drone flights. My plan was to drive to another vantage point I found online of the downtown area, a bit higher up to capture light trails of I-471. The wind was blowing still, and the clouds continued their hasty trip across the sky. And at my favorite time of day – blue hour!

Downtown Cincinnati Light Trails Long Exposure
25 seconds, f/22, ISO 100, 35mm (24-105mm Sony Lens)

I would have loved to have stayed and captured more light trails, but the rain had started again, big fat drops pelting my head. I was holding my jacket over myself and my camera as I captured this scene (I was chastising myself for not bringing my camera’s rain gear).

According to my map, I saw I was down the street from the Jack Casino. There is a parking garage, only two levels, but I wanted to see what the view was like from there. I figured I would at least be covered. An interesting view, with the Cincinnati Times-Star Building in the foreground (on the right). I decided to call it a night, since I had to get on the road in the morning for Kentucky. I knew I would be back in just a few weeks.

Cincinnati Downtown at Night Jack Casino Parking Garage
30 seconds, f/14, ISO 100, 30mm (24-105mm Sony Lens)

Even though it was just one day, I was happy to have been able to visit what I could in that short amount of time. All in all, I have the storm to thank for the sunset and clouds, but on the down side, not as much shooting time due to the rain. However, it is always better to get a few good shots, than many not so interesting shots.


Be sure to stop by my galleries to see my other work!


Related Images:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *