Tag: Churches

Blog Posts

Planning a Photograph

As I have attempted to make progress as an amateur photographer the need to plan for a good photograph has often come up in books, videos and blogs. This has led me to begin using Google Earth to view potential sites. I have also begun to utilize the features in the Photographers Ephemeris, click here for more information,  http://photoephemeris.com/tpe-for-desktop , to better understand the lighting on a subject at a specific time of day in my planned location. Another change has been considering how the finished photograph should look before releasing the shutter. This had not been my pattern in the past.

This past October I put all of this planning to work for a photo of the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. you can find information about the Shrine here http://www.nationalshrine.com/site/c.osJRKVPBJnH/b.4747309/k.C5D1/History.htm. First, I wanted to capture the sunset, so the Photographer’s Ephemeris was used to check the position of the sun for October 15th. I also used Google Earth to familiarize myself with the area around the Basilica, including parking places.

As I was considering the photo, a partial silhouette of the Basilica was the shot that seemed most interesting to me. After arriving at the site, I setup my camera and tripod and looked around. The Basilica is located next door to Catholic University, so there were a lot of people walking around and some were playing soccer or frisbee on the lawn in front of me. I decided this would not be a problem as the sun went down, however, I did notice that there was some construction taking place at the Basilica. Some of these distractions could be fixed in camera by using the shadow of the Basilica and some would be fixed in post-processing.

My next decision was to setup the composition. The sidewalk would be used as a leading line, however, there was some material on the ground where I wanted to stand. Oh well, you can’t plan everything. So, I moved over a few feet to the left. I then sat down and waited for sunset and the color that I hoped would arrive! It was a warm autumn evening, so the wait was very pleasant. As the sun was setting, I took many photos and made some adjustments along the way. After returning home and transferring the photos to my computer and picking the shot that appealed to me, Adobe Lightroom was used to dodge and burn some areas and boost color in the sunset. Adobe Photoshop allowed the removal of distracting elements. I also decided to have the Basilica in semi-silhouette as mentioned earlier to reveal some details of the building. Below is the resulting picture. I hope you enjoy it.

untitled-17-Edit-2National Shrine Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC

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Blog Posts

Missing the Super Moon

This past weekend brought the super moon to our night skies. I decided that this would be a great photo opportunity. Now the hard part began or so I thought. Where would be the best location for a super moon photo shoot?

I live in the Washington, DC area, so there is no lack of photogenic locations, from the National Mall, Capitol Dome, monuments, museums, statues, Potomac River and the list goes on and on. It seemed to me that every other photographer in the neighborhood would be using these prime locations and one more photo from me would be a big dud! What was needed was a location that was not on anyone else’s photography location meter. How many of you, hobbyist photographers, have been in a similar situation? Lots of digital film but no clear idea of what to shoot or where!

After tossing out many possibilities, I did come up with a location that was attractive and accessible. More on that later. Now the problem was to determine where the moon was going to rise and would it be in the photo frame I wanted. There is a great app, Photographers Ephemeris, that is excellent for helping figure this part of the photographic puzzle. For those of you who have not used it, you give the app a location and it gives you the astronomical information you need. It is linked to Google maps, so you can see the location with the street view function. Here is a link to the site:

http://app.photoephemeris.com/?ll=38.930974,-77.001777&center=38.9310,-77.0015&z=17&spn=0.00,0.01&dt=20161115172600-0500

I proceeded to look up my intended site and gathered the necessary information. The app displayed a graphic projection showing where the moon would be located at the time I wanted to take the photos. I used the street view function in Google maps and it looked like I had a clear view of my potential super moon shot. I felt good that I had done my homework and was ready to take some great pictures. I suspect many of you have also felt good after researching photo sites.

As I was driving to the location, things began to fall apart. It was Sunday evening and the traffic was really, really bad. Now I was behind schedule. It seemed my GPS was routing me directly into traffic and road construction, a constant problem in the District of Columbia! Finally, I arrived at my well researched location and parked my car. Out came the camera bag, tripod and small chair I like to use. Off I went to the location that was in my notes. Shock and horror greeted me! There were big trees all over the place blocking my view. Those Google photos were either old or I had researched the wrong spot!

This location would not work. I crossed the street and there was a parking lot that I proceeded to use to set up my equipment. I took a few photos of my target and waited for the moon rise. Now another surprise, as the moon came up it was immediately apparent that I was not in the right location! Oh well, all I could do was take some photos of my subject and enjoy the evening alone with my camera.

The next day, I rechecked the app and found the mistakes I had made in setting things up. This was a lesson that I will not forget. Next time I will do a much better job. My suggestion to you is that you practice with this app and go to the sites to check whether you have calculated the position accurately for your photo shoot before you go on the actual shoot.

The location I selected was the National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on the campus of Catholic University here in Washington, DC. Here are a few of the photos from my evenings adventure. Enjoy!

National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Photo taken just after sunset

National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

HDR image made from 3 photos

National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

Photo made 20 minutes after sunset

National Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The Super Moon is in the bottom right

Blog Posts

Local Photo Opportunities

It has been a long time since I have posted anything on this blog. It’s not really very surprising when you consider I haven’t had anything to talk about. In the last month or so I have been taking photos that were mostly photos of the family vacation and other things that were not appropriate for my blog. I am not even a big fan of Facebook, it seems too many people are publishing way too much personal information and I don’t plan to join the crowd.

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I decided to take a short trip to Frederick Maryland for a day of sightseeing. Frederick is an historic town from both the colonial period and Civil War standpoints. Many famous Americans such as George Washington, Francis Scott Key, Robert E. Lee and the first American-born canonized saint, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton have visited, stayed in or in the case of Robert E. Lee fought in the vicinity of Frederick, Maryland. Roger Taney, a local attorney, eventually became the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and presided over the Dred Scott v. Sandford case (1857), that ruled slaves, were not considered at the time the Constitution was written as citizens and, whether free or slave, could not be considered citizens of the United States. Most American High School students are taught about this seminal case in their U.S. History classes. The historic downtown area of Frederick is filled with old buildings, shops, restaurants, theaters and other points of interest. The nearby area is rural and has many historical sites to explore. Among them are several very old covered bridges.

I decided to bring my camera and to make this a photographic sightseeing tour. One of the first sites was “The Angel” painted by Artist William Cochran on the Carroll Creek Park Bridge. This style of art is known as “trick the eye” and is intended to be seen from several different viewing angles. The images I’ve included in this blog do not do justice to this rather unique painting. Interestingly, it took quite a while to take these three photographs because every place I stood the image did look different but not significant enough to notice! When I got home I went through the 10 or 15 pictures I had taken and picked out the three that you see posted in this blog as the best representation I could make of the visual trickery of this painting.

While we were walking down, interestingly enough, Church Street, I saw a stark white church with two spires that caught my attention. It was the Evangelical Lutheran Church established in 1762. I decided to take a photograph standing as close as I could to the church and looking straight up so that the spires and the pinnacle of the roof all pointed to a bright blue, cloudless sky. I might add that before I went on this trip I decided to try and use different angles and perspectives for some photographs. This idea came to me from one of the photographic books I was reading that discussed the idea of trying to find different viewpoints and not take the same old photographs everyone else does. Seems to me this came out rather nicely, but what are your thoughts?

The next photos that I decided to publish were of the Loy’s Station Covered Bridge that was originally built in 1880. It spans a rather small creek named Owens Creek. At one time there were a great number of these covered bridges in Frederick County; however, today only three remain. I visited them but decided to post pictures of this one bridge. This also gave me an opportunity to try my skills in Adobe Lightroom and convert the color photograph to a black-and-white one. I think I prefer the black and white version even though the right side is slightly blown out and somewhat distracting. That is one of the problems that I continue to experience and hopefully my photographic skills will improve enough to eliminate this in the future. Or I might try to do what’s recommended and that is to take the photo in better lighting conditions; but unfortunately, I was there at 3pm and I took the shot and that’s as good as it was going to be!

I guess the thing to take away from this blog post is that there are many great photographic opportunities just about anywhere you look. You don’t have to travel a long distance to find some interesting things. Having said that my wife and I are planning a train trip to Chicago and then flying to Las Vegas later in October. Hopefully I will have some great photographs to show you in that blog post; however, you never know about these things! Until the next post remember to keep pressing the shutter button because there is always a great photo out there, we just have to find it!