There are a lot of ways to take a picture of a building and most them are not very exciting. Seriously, do an image search on “building” and see what you get. Oh sure, some of the buildings have interesting designs but the images, themselves, are pretty blah. But every once in awhile, we see a new, exciting perspective that helps us view the familiar in a new way. I think Kevin Wolf’s photo does that.
I’ve never really been that interested/good at shooting architectural photos, which is why I really admire people who have an eye for that sort of thing. Kevin made a couple artistic decisions here that I like. Two of those decisions were made when he was taking the picture: Obviously, he stood close to the building and shot directly up, using the long, leading lines in the building to draw our attention across the frame and he used a long exposure (15 seconds) to give the clouds a surreal appearance. That happens because while the shutter is open, the clouds are moving, creating that streaky effect. This also tells us he likely used a tripod to prevent camera shake that can happen during long exposures and a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light getting through to the camera’s sensor. Otherwise, the amount of light hitting the sensor during a 15 second exposure at 8:30 a.m. would have completely blown out the image.
The other decisions he made occurred when he processed this photo with his editing software. He converted the image to black and white (though a lot of new cameras have a mode that allows you to actually shoot in monochrome). That decision allowed him to create some rich contrast between the windows and the rest of the building. He also darkened the sides of the frame, a “vignetting” effect that pushes our focus towards the center of the picture where our eyes then catch a ride on the leading lines to the top right corner. You can see the larger version of this photo on Kevin’s flickr page.
How would I describe flickr user nevermindtheend’s contributions to our flickr pool? A little strange, often sardonic, sometimes profound. I think this one might be a bit of all three.
This weather has us in such a good mood that we’re giving you a bonus photo today. Both photos are excellent examples of how to use backlighting and patterns to create interesting images, especially when said images are either shot in monochrome or converted during post processing. These patterns and interesting shadows are everywhere. You just have to take the time to look for them. And while early morning and late afternoon sun can create wonderful long shadows, which appears to be what Victoria got from the skylight at the National Building Museum, you can still use the midday sun to create a silhouette as Chris did in his image from the Hirshhorn.
Speaking of patterns, that’s the theme of this year’s 500px Global Photo Walk, which I’ll be leading in DC on Sept. 6. If you’ve got a camera and a passion for photography, you should join us. You don’t need a fancy camera, either. (Chris took his photo with an iPhone) Sign up on the Facebook event page.
There’s nothing quite like a spectacular sunset. The only problem is the day you go out and set up your tripod hoping to take a sunset photo is the day that the sun just kind of sinks into the horizon in a very blah manner.
You’ve got to have equal parts skill and serendipity to capture an amazing sunset like the one John J Young did here.
One of the most important factors (the most important?) is that you need clouds in the sky but not just any clouds — you need clouds that sit just above the horizon so that they’ll catch the light as the sun sets. On the evening that John took this picture, a fast moving storm had just swept through the area. The clouds it left behind were amazing.
He wasn’t the only one who got a great picture of the sky Wednesday night. Check out our Flickr pool to see more, including this one and this one.
When you see this photo and think of “faith,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It’s likely that your own world views and biases will color your response. At its best, street photography provokes your emotions, whether its humor, anger or anything in between. This photo taken a few years ago in Logan Circle by local photographer Chris Suspect is from a new exhibit entitled “Faith” that opens Saturday at the Leica Store gallery, 977 F Street, N.W. The opening reception is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The exhibit features the work of DC’s very own Strata Collective, a group of DC street photographers (now including members in Brooklyn and Los Angeles) that have been together since 2012. You can read more about the collective and the exhibit here.
It’s always a good idea when enjoying a photograph to let it percolate a little in your mind. You know, let it bounce around a little while you take a moment to savor its goodness. At first glance, you appreciate the way the light wraps around this gentleman’s head in a way that gives him an almost saintly glow.
The light is a harsh, midday sun and strikes our guy slightly from behind. Normally, this kind of light could create unappealing shadows on his face, particularly around his eyes and hairline. In this case, Richie (we’re assuming his name is Richie) is wearing these cool, mirrored sunglasses. And his hairline …well… he doesn’t have that problem.
Richie pulls the mirrored sunglasses, the plastic cross and the 5 o’clock shadow together very well. But what I really like about this shot is the picture-within-the-picture. If you look closely at the sunglasses, you’ll see our intrepid photographer, Miki J. And there standing next to him with an arm on her hip is a …mystery woman! [For a better view, check out the extra-large version of the photo] Those are the little things I love finding in a photo and it’s something we might have missed if we hadn’t taken the time to appreciate this shot. You can see more great photos in our flickr pool.
Did your friends flood your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds this week with photos of the double rainbow? Could you practically hear them squealing with delight as you imagined them pulling out their camera phones to snap a picture of the semi-mythical atmospheric occurrence? Well, some of us missed the stupid rainbow(s) because … well, thunderstorms make us sleepy.
All is well because, fortunately, frequent flickr contributor Number7Cloud craftily recreated the double rainbow’s appearance over the DMV. Just about the only thing that could make this picture better would be if there were a leprechaun riding a unicorn in the background.
First, the big news: this will be my last regularly scheduled post on WLDC. After three awesome years of photo work here on the site, I’ve decided to hang up my…publish button? Anyways. It’s not a big deal; in fact, I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished here and I love the people I’ve been able to work with. I still have a post or two left to write, but I’ll be leaving the day-to-day photo posts in the capable hands of Joe. You guys have read Joe’s work right? Excellent stuff. If nothing else, I’ve tried to give our audience the best and Joe is certainly that!
And with that in mind: ALL THE PHOTOS ARE FEATURED PHOTO TODAY! We’ve got heart ache of the USA lose by Caroline; followed by a stunning portrait by Pablo. I’m certainly going to miss nevermindtheend’s very quirky, yet engaging, scenes that she always seems to find. And I can’t not point out this simple pathway shot, done by dcsplicer, which demonstrates the beauty of man-made lines mixed with nature’s chaos. And we all know how much I love birds and other animal photos; so thanks Kevin and Chris! Then there’s shots like Victoria’s and Paul’s: one showing the amazing life and symmetry of Metro, and the other showing the amazing life and symmetry of the Mall. My only regret is I couldn’t show you all the great photos in our poll…oh, but wait I can.
And finally, Eric’s sunset shot is a fitting end. He’s done a bunch of these over the years, and more than a few have made them into Featured Photo or Weekend Flashback posts. Certainly a nice photo for me to ride off into…why yes, I can be corny and melodramatic, why do you ask?
A lot of people starting off with street photography get nervous when it comes to taking a stranger’s picture out in public. One way to build up your confidence and get experience with street photography is to take pictures of street performers. The majority of street performers don’t mind if you take their pictures, though some might expect you to throw a dollar into their hat.
Shooting street musicians and performers also gives you a chance to take the next step, which is to turn the camera toward the spectators. In today’s feature photo, Rob Cannon gives us a great example of what happens when you focus on the crowd — you can get a wonderful range of expressions. Check out our flickr pool to see more street photography from our contributors.
How many photos of the Abraham Lincoln statue inside the Lincoln Memorial have you seen? Chances are you’ve seen quite a few of Honest Abe perched in his chair, the weight of the world on his shoulders. A lot of tourists who snap a photo of the iconic statue try to get all of Lincoln in their frame. Or they focus on his head and the inscription on the wall behind him.
I like what J.D. did here: He focused on a single detail of the statue — Lincoln’s right hand. I’ve always felt that the hands on the statue really tell a story. There is so much tension in those hands. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s face is in the background, slightly out of focus. I think the result is a much more interesting photo than the standard full-on shot of a seated Lincoln.
Sometime you just need a cute duckling photo in your life. Phil is happy enough to oblige us with his above shot.
Phill is our group’s most prolific contributor, in addition to being a skilled wildlife photographer. He certainly shows his skill here, capturing the young ducks mid-shake, with water drops flying every-which-way. He even managed to get the shot at the duck’s eye level, giving a very unique angle for the viewer. You can almost feel the fluffy feathers of the little birds!
Phoneography is arguably one of the most popular, if not the most popular, ways to take a picture. Cameras in many phones are now better quality than some of the original digital cameras that were released onto the market years ago and the size comparisons are a joke. Aside from the ease of portability and the excellent quality of the images is the ability to edit and share the photos on the same device with which they were taken. Hundreds of apps have been created that let you add any number of filters; adjust contrast, brightness, and saturation; crop and straighten; add text and emoji; upload to social media sites; and ultimately become an internet (and sometimes real-life) famous photographer*. Instagram is perhaps the best example of this. Flickr and Twitter have even jumped on the filter preset bandwagon. Love it or hate it Instagram created a platform for many brilliant photographers to showcase their talent. It also created the much maligned “selfie” and millions of photos of lunch. And dinner. And cappuccino art. You win some, you lose some I guess.
Many of the photos that get posted to our Flickr group and that we share with you in our photo posts were taken with phone cameras. This excellent shot by DoctorJ.Bass being one of them. The geometry of the lines and shapes of the parking garage and buildings across the street combined with the dramatic contrast in light and dark make for a very eye catching photo. It can still be hard to believe that such an amazing image was captured with a phone. Not only that but instead of having to use a computer to download and process the photo DoctorJ was able to open an app, import the photo (unless the app was used to take the photo), and select a filter preset. Once saved the photo was exported to Flickr for everyone to see.
I personally have at least a dozen photography related apps on my phone that I use regularly but I’d say the one I’m drawn to the most lately is VSCO Cam, which is what DoctorJ. used to edit this photo. I love the presets but it also allows you to edit the photo on your own – tweak the contrast, brighten, saturate, crop, straighten, fade, change the hue, and more. It has recently added a social media-esque feature they refer to as Grid. Users can edit their photos and upload them to their own grid where others can view them. You even get your own nifty website address. The beauty of Grid (or downside, depending on where your need for constant reassurance and confirmation of your greatness lies) is that while you can follow people, and have their photos show up in your feed, there are no “likes” to be exchanged or collected and you have no idea how many people are following you. It’s simply a clean, aesthetically pleasing way to post your photos for the world to see**. Of course the photos can also be saved to your phone and uploaded to any social media platform or photo site you want.
Are there any apps that you prefer? Maybe some that we haven’t heard of? Feel free to let us know in the comments. And you’re welcome to post your Instagram name, or VSCO page, or Tumblr, or whatever, as well. We always want to see your photos no matter the platform.
*results may vary
** For the record I am in no way affiliated with VSCO, I just happen to like their app.
At first glance, you might mistake today’s featured photo for a painting, a moody impressionist work that invokes a Renoir or a Monet. A closer inspection reveals it’s actually a photograph of two trees reflected in the water — one that photographer Navin Sarma took along the C&O Canal.
Capturing reflections in water is a great way to add depth and drama to a landscape photograph. But you don’t need mountains towering over a lake to pull it off. In fact, if you’ve ever shot photos across any of the reflecting pools at the National Mall, then you’ve either consciously worked the reflection into your composition or snapped away without even thinking about it.
Many photographers find it difficult to take photos of people not because it’s physically hard but because the interaction required can be off-putting. It’s much easier to point your camera at a landscape or a building and push the shutter than it is to point it toward a person because that person might look at you or talk to you. Trees don’t look at you funny. Buildings don’t ask what you’re doing. But here’s the thing: a lot of those same photographers *want* to take photos of people but because it’s out of their comfort range they don’t. The challenge, then, is to do it anyway. Go take photos of people. Start with your friends and family. Begin by suggesting poses — “pretend you’re James Bond and model your finger guns!” or “everyone do the chin shelf!” Then once everyone is loosened up just start capturing the fun. Some of the best shots come when everyone is goofing around and not paying attention to the camera at all.
The most excellent photo above by pablo.raw is an example of what you can capture when people are relaxed and having fun. The subject isn’t shying away from or feeling intimidated by the camera, she’s interacting with it and being herself. These are the kinds of things you want to achieve and the best way to achieve them is to feel at ease behind the camera. And of course the only way to feel at ease is to practice. It may take you some time but in the end it’ll be worth the effort.
Victoria was able to capture this shot at the perfect time! Choosing a high shutter speed enabled her to freeze the water in its arc; in fact, if you look closely, you’re able to see some fascinating shapes in the water. As well, the boy’s shirt really pops and draws the viewer’s eye; this is because it’s almost the only color in the shot and makes it seem like the photo was processed into selective color (it’s not). It’s just such a soothing scene and the viewer is reminded of being a child; very well done!
Bokeh is something that you’ll hear a lot of photographers talking about. Photographs with good bokeh have an appealing aesthetic; a quality that is as much because of the photographer as it is because of the lens the photographer used. When you isolate the subject and create a small depth of field the background becomes blurred and and the subject stands out. Shallow focus is a good way to achieve this, just set your aperture to wide open. If the subject has a stark color contrast to the background the effect can be even more dramatic as is the case in this lovely photo by Ian Livingston. Not only does the white tulip stand out against the red ones but the blurring of the background tulips makes it even more of a focal point. The photo looks like a pastel painting and would certainly look great framed and hanging on a wall. Well done, Ian.
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.