There have been a lot, A LOT of cherry blossom photos posted over the past week. One could argue that every angle and vantage point around the Tidal Basin has been used and abused, that it’s hard to create a unique and unseen photograph of those fluffy little flowers. While that may be true to a certain extent I’d argue that that just makes it more of a challenge. It used to be that you could get down to the water by 8 am and still have the place (mostly) to yourself with a good hour or two until the tour buses and sandal-clad tourists started making the rounds. Now only the most dedicated, those who are willing to forgo those extra moments of shut eye just so they can have a moment with the trees without the distraction of fellow human beings, are the ones who get the photographs of the bloom in all it’s glory. Cathy Hammer got down to the Tidal Basin before sunrise on a Sunday to get this amazing shot. She set her f-stop at 13, set the shutter for 30 seconds and let it go. The result is stunning. The water seems to be frozen and the whole scene shows crisp detail. A scroll through her photostream offers some wonderful evening shots as well. It may be an angle we’ve seen before but certainly never quite like this. Great job, Cathy.
The mood of a photograph can be important. If the light and color are bright, that tends to give the photo a good, happy feel; if the shadows are dark and colors subdued, the viewer can start to get an ominous feeling. Then you have a photo like Laura’s above, where you feel like you’re eavesdropping on a high level meeting of Bond villains.
Granted, a lot of the mood comes from the processing of the photo. However, the underlining composition and lighting do more than a little to make this image work. Capturing the people in the bright light from the skylights, while framing the shot so that they are the only people present, gives the sense that we’re intruding on a conversation. Adding in the modern, and subterranean, architecture of the National Gallery’s cafeteria, and the black and white treatment, and the villain layer feel is complete. All that’s left is to have an over-sized laser and someone telling James Bond that he is expected to die.
Friendly reminder, WLDC is looking for some new blood to be photo writers. If interested, there’s till plenty of time to voice your interest.
Do you love photography? Do you love DC? Then we want you!
WLDC is looking for new photo writers. You will be responsible for writing one to two posts a week (mainly in the categories of Weekend Flashback, Featured Photo, and Week In Review), while getting to love DC all week long as you sift through and seek out terrific photos of the city. You will also have the liberty to write on other topics as your interests dictate and editors approve. It’s an opportunity to become part of a close-knit and supportive group of volunteer writers who are passionate about seeing you reach your full potential. If you’ve been interested in brushing up on your social media experience, or have been wanting to write more in a professional setting, this is a great venue to do it. You will have the creative freedom to write what you like, be able to share your vision of the city with others, and get feedback from some fantastic writers and readers. I have never regretted joining the team here, and I can’t imagine anyone not having a great time as well.
If you have basic knowledge of photography (for example, do you know the difference between shutter and aperture? Do you know what HDR is? Can you spot bad HDR?), a dedication to quality writing, and the commitment to post on a weekly basis, we’d love to hear from you. Please e-mail me at mosley[at]welovedc.com. Include your name, contact info, a general description of your photo knowledge (URL to your blog, Flickrstream, Instagram account, or such will do), and a few sentences on why you’re interested (nothing too fancy or long). I’ll reply with more info soon after.
Oh, and you must love DC. That’s the most important part.
If it weren’t for the modern SUV one might look at this and think they were looking at a photo taken many, many decades or centuries ago. Arlington National Cemetery has always had an air of mystery and solemnity about it from the time it was created. Kevin Wolf does an excellent job of capturing the scene on a foggy winter morning. The layers of history are distinct and yet blend together so well due to the monochromatic nature of the photo. Without color to distract the eye we can look around and pick out different details hidden by the fog.
Arlington House was built in 1803 by George Washington Parke Custis, the adopted son of George Washington. During the Civil War the property was taken by the Union army and used as a place to bury their dead to ensure that General Robert E. Lee, Custis’ son-in-law and leader of the Confederate army, would never return to live there. After the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated in 1921 the number of visitors and vehicular traffic heading to the cemetery increased. In an attempt to ease the traffic jams the Arlington Memorial Bridge was built in 1932. On the hill below Arlington House the eternal flame at President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite is visible at night. These are just the things shown in this photo, there’s so much more going on in the acres of land just beyond this scene.
We get used to seeing these sites and others around the city as we go about our daily lives and it’s easy to overlook them. They start to blend into the background. It really is amazing how much history surrounds us. Washington DC is such a layered city, in more ways than one, and sometimes it’s nice to take a moment to appreciate just how lucky we are to live here.
While we’ve been dealing with snow, way too much, we have been having a few of those Spring days that make living in DC oh so worth it. They have been too few and far between, but we have had them. And Streetamatic got one of those great sights of DC in Springtime. Why did these women bring lawn chairs out to Gravelly Point? Are they aviation enthusiasts? Given the fact that it’s DC, they might work for the FAA and enjoy plane watching in their free time (tell me that’s not possible in this town!). Certainly, the plane landing gives location and uniqueness to the photo; without it, this sight could be anywhere. All around, a great shot!
Did you know DC has a roller derby? Have you ever gone? Maybe you should so you can try your hand at some panning like pablo.raw. Panning is one of the more challenging techniques in photography. The goal is to clearly capture the subject while blurring the background to give you a sense of movement. We’ve posted other photos that give an example of this but Pablo’s photo really demonstrates how much movement you can get. It’s more challenging to pan indoors or in low light conditions so photogs will use a flash to help freeze the moment. This is called slow sync flash and it allows for a slower shutter speed with more light coming into the camera. From there it’s up to the photog to decide if they want to sync the flash with the front or rear curtain as both give different results in the final image. Some sleuthing on Flickr will give you some great ideas about how this feature can be used. After trying your hand at it make sure you post your best shots to the photo group!
P.S. Tonight is the opening of Exposed DC at Longview Gallery. As someone who has previously had photographs in the show and attended many of the opening night festivities I can tell you that it’s a super fun awesome good time. That’s not even including all the yummy noms that will be offered. The show runs until April 6 so if you can’t make it tonight you’ll have ample time to check it out later. The photographs are for sale as well so it’s a great, and relatively inexpensive, way to begin your private art collection. Tickets are $15 ahead with a limited number for $20 at the door.
It would seem there’s a new animal enclosure at the National Zoo. The exhibit consists of four human twenty-somethings and allows us a unique view into how they interact with each other. As we can see in Robb Hohmann‘s photo they spend a fair amount of time sitting in close proximity to one another but apparently never actually make eye contact. In fact, it seems as if they are stuck in very awkward and uncomfortable positions, hunched over and looking at some kind of electronic device. Is this how they actually communicate with each other? Do they make any vocalizations at all? How much time is spent on this activity? How do they eat? Earn a living? Get anything done? Clearly more research will need to be conducted to fully understand the behavior we are seeing. It is unknown at this time whether the National Zoo will be installing a live camera so we can watch these humans from the comfort of our own homes but we will update this post immediately if such an announcement is made.
While I’ve talked about negative space before (and here), Bill certainly takes it to another level with his photo above. Taking advantage of the musket fire smoke, rather than minimizing the re-enactors, actually draws attention to them. As well, the ghostly silhouettes of the muskets and bayonets, pointing in all different directions, adds a perfect central element to the photo. And then the smoke at the time top offers wonderfully mysterious patterns that help frame the shot and draw the viewers attention to the bottom. And when your attention gets do to the re-enactors, you start seeing the different expressions on the faces of the men. Truly an excellent shot, though I hope Bill didn’t shoot until he saw the whites of their eyes!
High Dynamic Range, or HDR, photography has been around for a long time but it’s still a bone of contention for many photographers. It started with photographers using multiple negatives to create a more evenly exposed final product, moved on to dodging and burning black and white prints in the darkroom, followed by more advanced color film that was able to capture a greater tonal range, and most recently through multiple exposures and digital editing with computer software. At this point many cameras, of the point and shoot, DSLR, and cell phone variety, have the ability to capture HDR in-camera. This takes it from something only a skilled few can do to something anyone with a knowledge of how to push the right buttons on their equipment can take advantage of.
Whereas most photographs are only able to capture the available light, or lack thereof, HDR allows for a more accurate representation of the overall light intensity of a scene. This is where things tend to get touchy as people argue the merits of being able to capture so much data in a photograph. Despite the fact that the human eye is able to pick up a huge range of light and color many find photographs representing that same thing unappealing. Is it because we’re used to the way photographs are “supposed” to look? Or is it the way that some of these HDR shots are processed, in that they can sometimes look too real and almost stylized — more like a painting or digital rendering than reality? (Discuss.)
Whatever your feelings I think we can all agree that the above photo of the Capitol Dome at sunset by Angela Pan is a wonderful representation of the scene and how HDR can be done well. The colors of the sunset are bright and saturated but not garish while the dome itself looks subtly lit as if by a giant reflector. The lines are crisp and the details are gorgeous. The warm glow coming through the windows draws your attention and you notice the Stars and Stripes drifting in the breeze. Would you know this was an HDR photograph if Ms. Pan didn’t indicate as such in the tags? Maybe, maybe not. But that’s what so great about it — you’re not focusing on the technique she used to capture the image but the image itself. Isn’t that the whole point? Great job, Angela.
Scale is always a hard thing to show in a photograph, and it can be an easy thing to manipulate. With the right perspective, you can make models look like mountains and mountains look like simple piles of dirt. And showing the size of something, particularly something very small, can be as challenging as getting a good photography. Let’s take the above photo as an example.
Mohamad has this excellent photo of a Golden Frog. As a wildlife/animal shot, it is straight up excellent: tight focus on the eyes, the frog is in a noble pose, and there is even a beautiful, shallow depth-of-field with a gorgeous bokeh. The only criticism I can find is that it misses capturing the scale of frog. Sure, if you know what you’re looking for you can deduce the animal’s size; but it’s more dramatic to show it. As the photo is composed here, the viewer could get the idea that the frog is several inches tall, rather than just a few millimeters.
Of course, scale is probably not what Mohamad was aiming for with this shot. My guess would be he wanted to capture the frog in it’s natural environment. And he certainly succeeded at that; it is a phenomenal shot!
Though DC’s Chinatown is routinely dismissed as inauthentic, the DC Chinese, and larger Asian community, still considers it their heart. And a good demonstration of that is the Chinese New Year Parade, which is always a fun time. Performers, firecrackers, and children; it’s always a good time with a parade. And from a photographer’s perspective, it’s a rich field for work.
Take Victoria’s picture above as an example. Finding one of the Lion dancers in a nice, cute moment, and focusing in as close as possible, gives a sense of intimacy. As well, by having the center focus on the girl, but keeping the full face of the lion costume in frame (click through to Flickr to see), you get the scale of the scene. Simple a wonderful sight and a great photo!
Anacostia has a reputation that leads many to avoid the area at all costs. From personal experience I can say that it has some of the nicest folks DC has to offer and some beautiful old row houses and architecture. It also offers some good food options, art centers, and community outlets. Let’s not forget the big chair. If that’s not enough to convince you then maybe the sheer joy on the face of this young man captured by number7cloud as he hurtles down the ice slide at Gateway DC will do the trick. By using a higher shutter speed the moment is frozen in time even with a slower ISO of 100. If you’re trying to capture a fast moving object it can also help to manually focus on a spot the subject is likely to move through, that way when it arrives all you need to do is hit the shutter. For more motion blur you can drop the shutter speed. The ice slide is only open for a limited time so take advantage while you still can.
DC (Maryland and Virginia) may not be able to handle snow events, well, at all but that doesn’t mean the city’s not a gorgeous backdrop when the white stuff falls. Victoria Pickering braved the obviously terrible weather conditions yesterday and captured this wonderful shot at the Capitol Reflecting Pool. You can almost hear the quiet; the sound of the snow falling and the crunch of it under your feet. Many of our fellow Americans make fun of our ability, or lack thereof, to handle inclement weather, perhaps rightly so, but I can think of no other major city in the country that looks as lovely as Washington, DC in the snow.
Take a look through our Flickr group for more snow photos and be sure to post some of your own.
Film lovers unite! In the age of digital you don’t often see people out shooting with film cameras. There are only so many shots per roll, the ISO is set, you get either color or black and white, and it has to be developed — no chimping here. It also can be expensive. But there’s something to be said for using film. It can push your creativity and it can challenge you to take more care when crafting an image. Instead of snapping 20 shots of the same thing in the hopes that you get one usable image, you might take only one or two. The color and tonal range of film is something that digital has yet to master. Sure when you scan film for display on a website or online portfolio it loses some of that detail but it can’t be beat when printed in a darkroom and hung on a wall. Jonathan Fields clearly knows how to use film and captured the light coming into the metro entrance so wonderfully. The black is so saturated and the shades of gray run so smoothly together. Add the lovely grain like the cherry on top, sit back and enjoy. Well done, Jonathan.
Winter light is some of the most dramatic of the year. It comes in from low angles casting long shadows and making everything look darker and more mysterious. Messay Shoakena did a great job capturing it with this photo. The silhouette of the gentleman in the hat (how could he not be a gentleman wearing such a great chapeau?) against the diffused yellow light of late afternoon (or early morning) is so striking. Reflections in a window, the hint of the drycleaned clothing in the back add interesting detail to the scene. Is the man inside or outside? Where is the photographer in relation? Is he there to pick up something or just happened to be passing by? Where did he get such a great hat? All these questions surround the image and we are left to come up with our own answers.
A simple photo caught my eye for today’s Featured Photo. Phil was able to get this tight shot of a star on one of the smaller Christmas trees with the National Christmas Tree in the background. Two things drew me to this photo: one, the lovely color of the lights, and, two, the bokeh of those lights. For those who don’t know what bokeh is, it’s that fine blur in the background of photographs. One of the pluses of bokeh is that it helps the viewer focus in on the main subject matter of a photograph; this is because our brains naturally want to pay attention to what’s in the focus. This effect certainly compliments Christmas lights because it gives them a dreamy, yet colorful, look; a look and feel I love to associate with the Holidays.
Anyone with a cat could tell you that big or small they’re all the same. While often temperamental they can be fiercely loyal and loving as we can see in this wonderful photo by Mohamad H. These two female lions at the National Zoo, Shera and Nababiep, are clearly the best of friends. In the soft, diffused light you can see each individual whisker and the fluffy white fur under the chin. Even the spots on the hind legs are visible. Don’t you just want to jump in there and snuggle with them? No? Zoos aren’t exactly a natural habitat for animals but it’s still possible to capture a natural behavior if you have patience and a good eye. Well done, Mohamad.
“Red Line train to Glenmont.” Even with all the troubles that Metro has given us in recent history, the system is quite pretty. From the Brutalist architecture, to vistas on some of the fly over tracks, Metro can still provide beauty in our daily lives. And that’s before you take the time to do a long exposure of a train coming into a station.
Pablo certainly captured that beauty with this Red Line train entering Union Station. He caught it just right so that the individual cars run together at one end, making it look like a single car. And at the other end, there are the light lines streaming along. And if you look closely at those light lines, you’ll see the wonderful movement made in the long exposure; solid lights and letters moving together forming a unique pattern. And you can clearly read the station sign and the warning on the tracks through the train’s arriving movement. Quite the sight and always a pretty one to see.
By the way, if you’re interested in great photography, our friends over at Exposed DC are getting ready to kick-off their 2014 Exposed Photography Show. They’re having a launch party at Bluejacket tonight and it will be well worth going to. This juried photography show is going into their seventh year and it is always worth seeing (both Kerrin and myself, as well as many of our regular contributors, have had photos in previous years of the show). Hope to see many people at the party!
So, this photo. Parents need to take a lesson from this photo by Jennifer (and the other similar shots in her stream). Do you see what this baby has that yours does not? That’s right, a mustache. He’s got the baby chub, the adorable striped socks, and the very dapper tuxedo onesie but, let’s be honest, that mustache really takes it to a whole other level. Jennifer did an excellent job of capturing it as well through this wonderful high contrast black and white image with its yin and yang composition.
I know he only grew it in honor of Movember but I think we can all agree that the world would be a much better place if this little cutie kept it year round. Congratulations on your adorable baby Jennifer and maybe try and convince him to keep the ‘stache just a little longer?
Let’s take a short trip back in time. Not a long trip, just to April of 2012; the 17th day of the month, to be exact. On that day, NASA did the really awesome thing of buzzing DC with the Space Shuttle Discovery on top of the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. It was a great sight and one not likely to happen again. A whole slew of photographers got shots of the flyover; be sure to check out some of their work.
Chris was able to get a shot of the event that was both unique and yet iconic of that morning. Using a very old film camera, specifically a Kodak Ektra from the 1940s, and some grainy black and white film, Chris is able to treat us to a sight that looks more UFO-ish and less Post-Modern. It’s a shot that makes me imagine a bunch of well dress Feds, in a 1950s smoke filled room, looking over this shot with a magnifying glass trying to figure out what flew by the Washington Monument. And yet, we know what actually happened and when the shot was taken. Truly fascinating and well done!