Photography Tip – Look Up

28 02 2010

In my previous post, I shared a photo of the dome ceiling at the University of Virginia’s Rotunda. That got me to thinking about another similar shot. Apparently I enjoy taking photos of domes. The photo below was taken in the Chapel on the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy. This led me to recall a photography tip that I read about a few years ago.

A lot of things happen over our heads. Some things are man made and others are natural. The ceiling in my living room has a ceiling fan and a textured finish. A textured finish isn’t put on a ceiling for anything more than being pleasant to the eye. In more complex buildings ceilings include domes, arches, lines, and curves. All of these are things often appealing to the eye. In nature trees grow over us and clouds float by. For some people jokes exist in a realm above the head. And if you don’t get what that means, I’m talking about you. Regardless of where you are, many opportunity for good photographs exist above our heads.

All of that being said, it’s very easy to forget to look up. Most of the things we look at do not require much tilt of the head and neck. Whether you’re clicking photos with an iPhone, a point-and-shoot camera, or something more complex look up and see what your options are. Give your neck some exercise!


Raising the Bar in Jefferson’s Rotunda

27 02 2010

Thomas Jefferson designed the early phases of the University of Virginia to place the student body in close proximity to the library and members of the academic community. At the center of Jefferson’s Academical Village is the Rotunda. The building is a symbol of the University of Virgina and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is best known for its dome and columns; it was based on the Pantheon in Rome.

I gave myself a quick tour of the Rotunda and enjoyed the history and architecture of the building. It was an enjoyable building to tour because there we not many people around. The lack of people made it easy to get some good photographs of the building’s interior. The photos below are among my favorite from the past weekend and of the year so far.

These stairs lead up to the dome room. I really like the symmetry, lines, and curves of this shot.

I like how this image shows the shape of the room and the unique architecture of the columns. Again, solid symmetry.

I was able to use a wide angle lens to capture the seating arrangement of the Dome Room with the Skylight in the dome ceiling. The sun was also shining through to add some pattern to the shot.

This shot was taken looking at the skylight in the dome. The sun was shining through onto the dome creating a unique pattern. The image reminds me of a jellyfish.

My sister commented on a previous post and said that I was raising the bar. While I appreciate compliments that people share, I am often critical of my own work. But this is one case where I would agree by saying that these photographs are among my better shots. I guess I am raising the bar.

Visiting Jefferson’s Treasures

26 02 2010

“I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” ~Thomas Jefferson~

This quote seems to fit my photography pretty well. As I have focused more time and energy on photography, I continue to find better “luck.” It’s also a polite way of saying don’t just sit around and wait for things to happen.

Last weekend I spent part of a day in Charlottesville, VA while my wife spent the afternoon at a conference. I burned a few hours by visiting two of Thomas Jefferson’s historical locations. I was able to visit Monticello for the first time and tour Thomas Jefferson’s home. While the grounds were snow-covered it was still enjoyable to walk around. I was pleasantly surprised by the time I spent there. I thought that I would just be seeing an old house, but I good tour guide re-sparked an interest in the history nerd that lives inside me. The architecture of the building was also very unique and made for some good shots.

I also visited the center of the University of Virginia’s campus and took in the Academical Village and the Rotunda. As a college administrator, I found this area both unique and amazing. I have to admit that one of the first thoughts I had as I walked a corridor along student residences was “isn’t a fireplace a significant fire hazard”. The Academical Village is Jefferson’s idea of a university. It is a place where faculty, staff, and students closely interact benefiting the educational experience of the student. The Rotunda, which is the central building of UVA’s campus, is a great building. I will share some photographs that focus on this building in another post.

Here are a few more photos from my afternoon:

Jefferson’s thoughts also seem to provide a good life lesson. Hard work yields results. And while I do believe that luck does exist, effort leads to more positive outcomes. You’re probably better off putting in a little effort instead of just hoping things break your way!

To view more photos from Virginia, please click on any of the images in this post. My gallery of Virginia is a new project. I still have many places to explore.

Lost in Time

23 02 2010

It is rare that in 2010 that someone is able to capture an”urban” environment in a state that  could have come out of any of the past 50 years. I was able to find this scene earlier this month. Annapolis was still digging out from the 2nd of back to back blizzards.  This scene was captured along Fleet and Cornhill Streets among some historic homes. While the streets were plowed once, they were still covered in deep snow that made driving fairly difficult for the 1 car I saw drive down the road. Outside of a couple of cars buried in the snow, it’s difficult to place a time stamp on this shot.

Feel free to view additional photos from Annapolis, MD by clicking on the image.

Walking in a Winter DC-land (DC Snow Storms).

14 02 2010

During the past week, Washington, DC has been an interesting place. There has been little talk about politics or any other news for that matter. The topic of the week was snow. Back to back blizzards buried the Washington, DC area leaving it crippled. Most people got extended winter “vacations” as a result of being snowed in and impassable roads. Folks lucky enough to return to work on Friday were greeted with snarled traffic.

The storms received a variety of names. Names such as Snomagaddon, Snowpacalypse, Snoverkill, and Snowtorious B.I.G. were among those commonly used by news outlets. It became trendy to use the word snow in any way possible. I will do my best to avoid doing the same in this post.

Yesterday afternoon I made an intentional effort to get out of the house for a few hours. I decided to see where I could get to in Washington, DC. I ended up at the U.S. Capitol Building and was surprised to find the area relatively busy with both tourists and locals enjoying the cold windy day. OK, maybe it was only the locals enjoying the weather. I was able to capture some unique photographs as it is not too often that the DC area receives 2-3 feet of snow.

While at the Capitol,  I overheard two people talking about some kids sledding on the hills in front  of the Capitol. Apparently this is a practice not normally permitted by the U.S. Capitol Police. But this week was different. Senator Dodd (Conn.) was able to “convince” the Capitol Police to relax this rule to allow local children that have been snowed in for the week to get out and enjoy the weather. According to a new article, sledding will only be permitted this weekend. Some kids took advantage of a unique DC sledding experience! Political parties aside, I was relieved that someone was using the Capitol Building for something useful.

While walking around the Capitol Grounds, I also made a “new” discovery. There’s a small brick “building” on the northwest side of the grounds. I had always thought that this building was a defunct public restroom facility. In fact, it is known as the Summer House.  This open-air brick building is a resting place and shelter to visitors.  To go back to my first statement in this paragraph…this was a new discovery to me. The rest of the world already  knew what this building is. From the Summer House, I was able to capture this shot, which is also my first attempt at an HDR image.

It was a nice afternoon to get out and enjoy DC. Many others were doing the same. You may visit my Washington, DC gallery and see other shots from this weekend by clicking on any of the images in this post.