Tag: Washington DC

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

Using Lemons to make Lemonade!

Recently, I decided that I wanted to work on some new photographic themes. Living near Washington DC I decided to capture some scenes that the average tourist does not see when he or she visits. Now that I have been taking photographs for a while I decided to do some preparatory work. I took the Metrorail to the Shaw Station and then walked around the neighborhood. As I saw interesting residential buildings I took some pictures of them with my smart phone. I then used my recorder app and made notes about the location and where I thought the best position to take the photograph would be. When I finished my day and returned home I found that I had selected 10 different locations that I thought would make interesting photographs.

Bistro Before Editing

Bistro Before Editing

I then did some research on where sunrise or sunset would be relative to these locations. This helped me to decide whether to take pictures in the morning Golden hour or in the evening Golden hour. After all of this preparation I felt quite proud of myself! The only other decision I needed to make was when I would take the first set of photos. Since I was quite excited about the potential I selected this past Thursday morning as the day to start the project.

On Wednesday evening I checked weather.com and saw that Thursday would be partly cloudy, but no rain was in the forecast. So at 4:30 AM on Thursday I drove into Washington DC full of excitement and anticipation of a great photographic journey. I just knew I would have beautiful, colorful morning skies as backgrounds to my shots. As I was driving on the George Washington Parkway, I noticed that the sky was partly cloudy and now I started to get concerned along with being very sleepy! I arrived at my designated parking area, took out my camera, gadget bag and tripod and started walking to my first location. Within five minutes of leaving the car it started to drizzle and a few minutes later rain was falling profusely from the sky!

I decided that I could either go home or use this opportunity to take some different photographs. So I decided when you have lemons the best thing to do is to make some lemonade! Since the ground was wet and it was still somewhat dark and cars and buses had their headlights on along with the buildings beingwell lit; I decided to do some motion blur shots with the added benefit of reflections on the wet street. When the rain stopped I took a few pictures of some of the buildings that I originally planned to photograph, needless to say I did not have the beautiful colorful sky I originally wanted.

Bistro After Editing

Bistro After Editing

As I was looking at my photographs in AdobeLightroom V. 6 that evening, one of them caught my eye and I decided to do some additional editing on it. I noticed that the sky was bland and colorless, so I decided to add a new sky using Adobe Photoshop Elements V. 13. This was going to be a challenge as I just barely knew how to use Lightroom and I had not spent any time with Photoshop Elements! Fortunately, I had a nice sky photograph that I had taken some time before with my smart phone. I proceeded to look at several videos on YouTube that described using layers and layer masks. After multiple attempts I had a reasonably decent copy of the Bistro you see in this post. Although I made some mistakes, for first attempt I think it turned out rather well.

Lesson learned: Preparation is great and important nut you also have to be flexible and find a way to turn a problem into an opportunity to photograph! Keep shooting and come back to visit this blog again in the future or subscribe to the RSS Feed at the top left of the page.