Morning Light at the Capitol

31 01 2009
The US Capitol Dome at Sunrise

The US Capitol Dome at Sunrise

Photographers usually suggest that one should shoot at the beginning or end of daylight because the light is “best” at those times. I’ve seen many sunsets in the DC area, but have never found the right scene with the Capitol Building at sunset. Part of this might be because the East Front (the side you would shoot if you wanted the sunset behind the building) of the building has been under renovation for the time I have lived in this area. But the bigger issue is I was never able to drag myself out of bed with the time to get to the Capitol for sunrise.

Statue of Uslysses S. Grant at the Capitol

Statue of Uslysses S. Grant at the Capitol

My biggest fear of getting up to photograph sunrise is a big cloud that hides the sun and dulls the colors. But on the day after Christmas (2008), the stars aligned. I was planning to take my wife to work that day and she had to be into the city before sunrise. I took her in and was able to easily get downtown and park close (and for free) to the Capitol. There were a few scattered clouds, but only enough to add character to the sky, not hide the light. The sunrise was spectacular.

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC

The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC

The reflecting pool added to a great sunrise. It was partially frozen which provided for a unique foreground. The ice reflected the color and the water provided a perfect mirror. Everything came together for some nice photographs.

Utilizing some common photography tips allowed me to enjoy a cool crisp morning with the camera AND capture some good photographs. Among the tips I was sure to utilize were:

  • shoot at sunrise or sunset
  • use a tripod; this allowed me to capture a longer exposure and get good light
  • find a scene in a scene (to follow my advice from a previous post!)

Please feel free to visit my Washington, DC gallery.

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Architecture Photography: Capitol Columns

28 01 2009

One of my favorite subjects to shoot is the Capitol Columns located at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC. The columns were removed from the U.S. Capitol Building in 1958 during a building project and later placed at the Arboretum as part of a “newly” created landmark.

The Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC

The Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum in Washington, DC

The columns are a fun subject to shoot for a few reasons. First, it is rarely crowded. The arboretum is off of the beaten path and only draws large crowds during a few parts of the year. This makes it accessible from a photography perspective. Next, the columns were included in a nice design that works with the natural lay of the land and includes a fountain and reflecting pool. No DC scene is complete without a reflecting pool! And most importantly, I enjoy the columns because of the abstract nature of them.

Holding Up the Sky

Holding Up the Sky

The shot to the left, “Holding Up the Sky”, is one of my first photos of the Capitol Columns and one of my favorite shots to this day. While I have found different perspectives that make strong photographs, I often find myself comparing shots to this one. I have yet to find a home for this shot on a wall, but hope to soon!

I still have my hopes set on photographing the columns after a newly fallen snow. But that doesn’t seem to happen much in these parts. It snowed (a whole inch!) earlier today and is currently icing, but I’m not sure that I’ll have the opportunity to chase that shot.

An Upward View

An Upward View

I would encourage anyone that has an interest in a unique photography subject or just likes to see unusual stuff to stop by the National Arboretum to check out the Capitol Columns. The arboretum also has a variety of plant, tree, and flower life (who would have thunk it?) and plenty of recreational space.