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.
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!