Big Knoxville Rain

Knoxville Rain, my image of downtown Knoxville’s Gay Street bridge in a pouring rain, is now on display printed 20 feet wide at a tuxedo store being renovated in Knoxville.  The owner found the image online somehow, loved it, and they asked me yesterday if they could license it. I said yes, and less than 24 hours later it’s already printed and on their wall.

Here is the story of how this shot came to be…

If it wasn’t for cancer, Knoxville Rain likely wouldn’t exist. I was only in Knoxville for several weeks in the spring and summer of 2016 because I was recuperating from two cancer surgeries before returning to Nashville for late-summer radiation and chemo. June 4th was one of the few days I was in Knoxville that I felt well enough to get out and do some photography. So, that afternoon, I drove to downtown Knoxville, expecting to park and walk around looking for opportunities for street photography.

But as I arrived downtown the sky grew dark and it started to rain.


I had planned on photographing the Gay Street bridge from the side of the Tennessee River opposite downtown, but the downpour canceled that idea, so I started  across the bridge toward downtown and realized I just had to make this photograph. So I stopped and let a car pass me, and then focused my camera through the window and waited until the car had receded far enough in the distance to almost disappear. Then I clicked off the windshield wipers, let the downpour sheet water on the glass, and clicked. I repeated this just a couple of times and then drove on. My original plan had been for a perfectly centered shot with the two lines of lights being symmetrical and centered, but in the rain I couldn’t stand in the middle of the bridge for the shot, and because I pulled my car off to the side as much as possible to allow other cars to past, I had no choice but to make this off-center image. And it works better that way, I think. Life threw me a bunch of curveballs in 2016, and I found ways to adapt, adjust and survive and win, and this image, the result of cancer and an unwanted rainstorm, is just another one of those wins.

For you photo geeks, the photo was made with a Canon 5D Mark iii, a wonderful beast. My final version of the image was cropped to about 75 percent of the original frame. For this installation the customer cropped it from the top and bottom to make it fit the space, which is 20 feet wide and 8 feet tall. Exposure was 1/30th  at f16, at ISO 800, with my 24-105 Canon lens set at focal length 105mm.