Rainy days tend to keep most people from carrying around their cameras which is understandable. Who wants to risk damaging such an expensive piece of equipment? But how many of you have seen something on your trip to work or walk to lunch and thought “if only I had my camera with me?” Sometimes it pays to bring it along for the ride as købiā found out one rainy day last week.
Instead of focusing on the person, the rain itself is the subject and the low angle gives a different perspective all together. Was this taken from the ground? Looking up onto a walkway? And the photo has a nice dreamy quality to it – one that makes you want to go home, sit on the couch, and listen to the rain fall against the window. Maybe take a nap. Yeah, definitely take a nap.
If you’ve missed it, the last few days have produced some amazing sunsets. I believe (and if someone with a atmospheric science background could confirm this) that it has to do with the angle the sun is setting at this time of year and the heavy clouds/atmosphere with the storms moving through the area. Whatever the how is, the end product is great to look at, and Erin came away with an amazing shot. Those deep oranges are hard to catch, and she was able to do it while not completely blacking out the foreground. The subtle orange reflections along the ground accent the silhouetted cityscape perfectly. She even was able to capture some reds, pinks, and blues a few minutes later. Simply mesmerizing.
A number of other contributors got shots of the sunset over the last two evenings. Those too are well worth a few minutes to check out.
The government may be closed for business, and you may be forced to sit home and wait for Congress to come to it’s senses, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look at cute stuff while you do it. Daniel Reidel took this squee-worthy photo of spectacled bears Billie Jean, Curt, and Nicole on Saturday. Let’s hope that the government shutdown gets figured out before these guys are also forced to stay home from work. Make sure you browse through his other amazing animal shots from the National Zoo, it will help the time pass if not quickly at least cutely.
Well positioned sunrise photos are always good, but when you can get that big ball of orange light in your shot it takes on a whole new life. In addition, you’ll get super-bonus points for getting a building, any building, in the shot. But when you can do it with the buildings being the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument, you deserve special recognition, like Kevin’s photo above. It has it all: the sun directly behind the dome; a uniform orange dawn sky; the sun as a perfect circle; and even a perfect silhouette, with no atmosphere distortion, of the Statue of Freedom. Pretty amazing.
As I mentioned in last week’s Week In Review, the Fall Equinox was on Sunday. That meant that the full moon last week rose almost perfectly from the east. What I didn’t mention is that the sun rises perfectly from the east on both Equinoxes (Spring and Fall). Since the timings and placements of these celestial bodies have been known for centuries, with the right tools it’s very easy to plan out a photo shoot to get your own well placed shots. I use the Photographer’s Ephemeris which provides a map and lines showing the movement of the sun and the moon for a given location; it’s very intuitive to use (plus the desktop version is free). So get planing, as the Spring Equinox is March 20th and I hope to see people out taking some sunrise shots.
“Objects in mirror are closer than they appear” or something like that. I am a fan of photographing reflections. I especially like that kind that give you a hint about what’s not included in the photo as in this wonderful shot by Raymond Bryson. At first glance you notice the striking white lines of the crosswalk and when you follow those back you notice the mirror (two actually, with one turned at a 90 degree angle) and the corner of something. It isn’t until you take a closer look at what’s reflecting in the mirror that you start to make out a headlight and front grille. Of course it’s at this point that you start wondering what kind of vehicle it could be. A delivery van of some kind? Maybe an ice cream or food truck. Luckily Raymond is nice enough to tell us it’s a USPS mail truck but it’s still fun to imagine the possibilities.
Double exposure photographs can produce some fascinating and unpredictable results. But Erin’s shot above is aligned so well I’m suspicious that she planned this shot (which is possible, though quite difficult). In her shot, the viewer’s eye is drown to the statue centered in the picture, nicely framed in the black strip. Then the graffiti on both sides of the statue gives the photo a level of texture as well as more material for the viewer to explore. These two exposures, though very different, were well chosen to complement each other. It’s also a very complicated shot, with a great deal of material for the viewer to take in. Great work!
There are really only two carnival rides that I enjoy riding: the Scrambler and the Swings. I know, I’m lame. But that’s not the point. The point is that carnivals and fairs are some of the best places to take photos as Kim has so excellently demonstrated in this wonderful shot from the Maryland State Fair.
I am a huge fan of carnivals and fairs for the myriad opportunities they provide for practicing a variety of photography techniques. Where else will you find people from all walks of life gathered together for a day or evening of good, old-fashioned fun? Look for the most interesting characters, or private moments that otherwise go unnoticed in the crowd, and get candid shots that every street photographer will envy. Channel your inner photojournalist and document life at the fair; maybe interview a couple of the workers running the games or the members of the 4-H club showing off their prize pigs. Bring your tripod and a shutter release cable so you can capture some long exposures of the carnival rides glowing in the night. (Personally my favorite thing to do.) The possibilities are endless but if you somehow manage to run out of ideas there’s always funnel cake. And fried Oreos. And fried Snickers. And ice cream. And cotton candy. And, well, you get the point.
P.S. If someone brings me a funnel cake I’ll share it with them. And by share I mean they can have a bite. What?
A simple and elegant photo today; one which combines a delicate use of color and shadow, light and dark, to please the eye. Paul’s framing of the silhouetted man descending the escalator is positioned just right for the viewer’s eye to catch the flowing lines in the concrete wall. In turn, all of the shapes and designs in the wall are illuminated nicely with pleasing colored lights, balancing out the black of the shadows. Simple and elegant; well done!
Space; the Final Frontier. No, I’m not going start talking about this ship’s continuing voyages but I am going to talk a little about astrophotography. That really big word (which I do enjoy saying) just means taking pictures of stars, planets, and the moon. While it can cover such things as the pictures the Hubble Space Telescope took, in this instances I’m thinking more amateur and terra firma based.
Marc’s photo above is a great star trail photo. If you didn’t know, the night sky is in constant motion because the Earth is rotating. If you’re skilled enough, you can capture this motion in photo form in two ways. The easier (and that does not mean easy) way is to use film; using a low ISO, or low-light sensitive, film, a photographer can keep the camera’s shutter open for very long periods of time (as in hours) to capture the celestial movement.
The other way, which is what Marc did, is to take multiple shorter exposures (say 30 to 60 seconds each) and then layer them in a photo editing programming, like Photoshop, to combine them into a single shot. You might think this is cheating, but it’s the only way to do it with digital photography; since digital cameras are sensor based, not a physical medium like film, keeping a digital camera running long enough to capture star trails would overheat the sensor and ruin the shot. So layering multiple shots is the only way to achieve it. Also, combining dozens of shots is not a simple task. This is something I hope to try someday and I’m always thrilled to see photographers nail. Great work Marc!
Typically a photographer doesn’t take a long exposure during the day; this makes sense. A long exposure, which is when the shutter is left open for an extended period of time, rather than a fraction of a second, will let in more light. The day time being when the sun is out, that means you would typically have a worthless, blown out exposure. That is, unless you had a little piece of equipment called a neutral density (or ND) filter, which reduces the intensity of the light entering the camera. These little pieces of glass can open a whole new world of photography to those who want to try it.
And if you do try it, you can get stunning pictures like Kevin got above. This thirty second exposure of the Air Force Memorial, during the middle of the day, while using an ND filter, looks like something from a dream. There are multiple features of this photo worth pointing out: the motion blur of the clouds; the fascinating play of light on the metal arms of the sculpture; and, of course, the color of the sky. Kevin says that the color is not from post processing and is simply how the light interacted with the filter glass. Truly an excellent photo; makes me want to go buy one of those filters and start playing!
I’ve talked about the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens before; as a reminder, the gardens are best known for their lotus blossoms. They are so well known, that they attract amateur and professional photos every year. It’s very hard to get a unique shot at such a well documented location (just look through our Flickr group and you’ll see what I’m talking about). So when I saw A. Drauglis’ photo above, it just called out for special attention.
Most people when they photograph lotus blossoms focus on the petals; or, at the very least, include them in the shot. A. Drauglis’ photo completely eliminates them from the shot, deciding to only focus on the stamen. Not only does he focus on only a small part of the flower, he gets a macro shot which gives the feeling of looking inside the body of a living creature, not the outside of a flowering plant. The warm, pleasing pinks and oranges just draw the eye in; while the soft focus on the stems makes the viewer think it’s part of a dream. Truly a unique shot and well worth pouring over.
Shadows and silhouettes can do so much for a photograph. They can provide depth; they can help to focus the attention of the viewer; they can provide dramatic subject matters. They can also make for complex photos; ones that force the viewer to take a little extra time to process what they’re seeing.
Stephen’s photo above is such a complex shot. With the predominant color of the photo being this featureless black, it forces the viewer to seek out clear details in order to understand what they are looking at. And once the viewer sees the corner of the sign on the left side of the image, the photo unfolds in the mind’s eye: an underground Metro platform; the black blobs take shape as people; and the blurred gray becomes an incoming train. The central focus of the photo, the sharply defined silhouetted commuter, suddenly stands out and you wonder how you didn’t see it immediately. This is excellent work!
The Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is an excellent oasis along the Anacostia River. Known for the beautiful lotus flowers that grow there, the gardens also offer an abundance of wildlife. From multiple types of heron and other birds, to frogs and turtles, even to woodchucks; it’s hard to find anywhere else inside DC that has such a diversity of life…besides the zoo. And if you ever go to the Aquatic Gardens, one of the first things you’ll see are the dragonflies.
Elyse got a great close up, where we can make out the face of the insect. A true macro photograph, all of the fine details of the bug pop out: the transparent wings, the elongated body, and large eyes. In fact, those eyes, which seem to be looking right into the camera, are what make this photo so powerful. And the background is blurred perfectly, which helps to focus our attention right where it should be, on the dragonfly. Truly, excellent work.
Escalators; in this town, they both fascinate and annoy us. The fascination comes from being an almost steampunk era machine, constantly clicking and clacking, tucked away in mysterious low light areas. The annoyance, well, that comes from the people who use them; the clash of local vs visitor. Everyone has their way of getting clueless tourists to the right side; whether it’s a polite “excuse me,” or a more impolite “EXCUSE ME” followed by some choicer adjectives. Yep, escalators bring us all together.
Victoria certainly captures the fascination of these machines with her picture above. The low angle provides a unique point of view; after all, most of us don’t hunch over while riding up one of these things. This perspective captures the forward motion of the escalator, making the viewer feeling like they are rising up into the light. As well, the dark, almost black and white, coloring gives the photo a gritty look. This gritty look is complemented by the orange lights, flowing upwards to the vanishing point, helping to make this picture by providing a vivid splash of color into otherwise two toned scheme. Put simply, this is a great photo.
Fun factoid: did you know Metro has the longest single span escalator in the Western Hemisphere? I want to walk up that thing.
We have a wonderful fashion/detail photograph from Caroline today, straight from this year’s Smithsonian Folk Life Festival. With such a close cropped shot, the viewer focuses right in on all these wonderful details. Such details as the two different types of rhinestones on the shoe; the bright yellow nail polish on the woman’s toes; the subtle reflections of color in the flooring. As well, capturing the model in mid-step adds a sense of movement to the shot. The colors are also well captured, and help to tie the entire photo together. All around, a great shot.
PS: Caroline got a number of excellent photos from the Festival, and it is well worth your time to check them out. In fact, it was pretty hard finding a single one to talk about.
Reflection photos are always fascinating. Whether it’s a perfect mirror image or a distorted view, reflections make great subjects for photos. Let’s look at Erin’s shot above. This is half distorted and half mirror image, with the slashing puddle mirrors being broken by the ground. This composition forces the viewer to struggle to figure out what they’re looking at, and this struggle, oddly enough, makes the image rather compelling. Also, the color in the shot is wonderful; a full range of hues of oranges and blacks and reds. It takes a lot of effort to make pools of rain water in mud look interesting; Erin pulled it off nicely.
I did want to remind everyone that tomorrow is the 4th. I know, no reminder needed, but it does make a good lead into asking for your photos of the fireworks. I plan on doing a firework flashback on Monday the 8th, so please get your photos into our Flickr group by midnight on Sunday. And if you want to see the 2012 and 2011 flashbacks, well there you go.
Such a wonderful abstract photo from puddlegal9 of the Hirshhorn courtyard. Take a moment to look at the shot; you’ll quickly see all the wonderful lines going every which way. In addition to the straight lines, there are a number of curved circles and other shapes which contribute to the pleasing sight. But the part that fascinates me the most is the appearance that the photograph is a flat surface, when, in fact, the Hirshhorn is round; this effect was achieved through smart composition. Truly, a great photo.
Phil, our resident Osprey contributor, has really outdone himself with this photo. The bird is not only in caught in a dramatic pose, but also while carrying a branch for nest building, which helps to give the raptor a sense of scale. Notice the symmetry of the wings is almost perfect, allowing the pattern in the feathers to be shown off to its best. In fact, it’s such a great effect that it takes a moment to realize that the bird’s eyes are clearly visible and looking straight into the camera. Isolating the raptor is also an excellent framing decision, as it allows the viewer to not be distracted by objects in the background and focus all their attention on the bird. Very well done!
If you’re wondering how someone could get such amazing photographs, know that it’s a matter of two things: investing time and knowing the animal you shoot. Phil has been going to the same Osprey nest for at least five years (2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009). As well, knowing that Osprey nest in the same location over their adult breeding lifespan, helps Phil to know he can always come back year after year to this nest at Belle Haven Marina to see these birds. Knowing other behavioral traits also helps him anticipate what the birds will do, which helps gets better photos. Two simple things, but they make all the difference with wildlife photos.
Sometimes you just have to flip the camera upside-down in order to get the photo you want. Noe shows the result you can get with her simple, yet elegant, shot of a reflection in a puddle. Some wonderful white clouds, accented with a touch of blue sky, are dirtied with what’s on the bottom of the puddle. All that gives the image a wonderful texture and gives the viewer’s eye some depth to get lost in. The ripples also add a nice element to the shot by distorting the pole just enough to make it look abstract. Such a wonderful photo!
Dana Carvey impersonations aside, this is an excellent forced perspective photo by Robert. Perfectly angling the abstract George H.W. Bush statue, located in the American Art Museum, to make it appear that it is reaching out to the man sitting in the gallery. The black and white coloring of the photo helps to simplify the composition and confine the viewer’s attention on the statue and seated person. Well sighted and well executed; very prudent. A thousand points of light, in fact.