Watching Over the City

At the bottom of the Netherlands Carillon near the Iwo Jima memorial there are two large bronze lions. They have a fantastic view of the city, and since this shot of the monuments lined up is one of the most classic and oft-repeated photos of DC I thought that having one of them in the foreground would make the perspective more unique. Plus, the texture on the bronze is great and the cold looking snow contrasts nicely with the warm light hitting the city.

On a technical note, in order to make the monuments in the background a meaningful size in relation to the statue I had to make use of what’s referred to as the “distance compression effect.” This basically means I stood back from the scene and zoomed in with my lens; I was actually around 20-30 feet behind the statue when I took this shot and was shooting through the bottom of the Carillon.

Upriver to Rosslyn

I’ve become a big fan of shooting the Rosslyn skyline. This is probably because, for one thing, it’s really the only skyline DC has; due to the height restriction on construction around the Capitol, all of the really tall buildings are grouped together just west of the Potomac. I noticed this great vantage point while biking around one afternoon over a bridge on Memorial Drive (this is actually within sight of The Hiker). According to Google Maps, the water you see here is the literal dividing line between DC and Virginia. It seems like such a peaceful stretch of water amidst the city and the view is obviously great, so I’m determined to explore it via kayak as soon as I get out on the Potomac this summer!

Scaring the Ghost

Ghost crabs aren’t known for being diurnal, so when I saw this guy scurrying across the sand one afternoon I felt I had to seize the opportunity and chase him down for a photo. At first he did his best to evade my pursuit but eventually stopped with his back to a dune, claws up, seemingly ready for a fight. He stared me down with his beady little black eyes until I snapped some pics and moved on. I’m sure he was relieved to get back into his dark tunnel and wait for the night.

An Unlikely Sunset

I’m a big fan of sunsets in general but didn’t have much hope for this one. You can think of clouds as the canvas upon which a sunset will be painted (if you’re into metaphors), and without them all you usually get is a uniform haze of light gradually fading to black. As you can see here there were only a few scattered clouds in the sky and they weren’t really picking up any color, so the fact that this sunset turned out to be so awesome definitely took me by surprise. Apparently there was some kind of atmospheric disturbance beyond the horizon that caused huge luminescent bands of orange to streak up into the sky radially from where the sun was setting. I tried to capture one of these flares in the shot along with the deep blue surrounding it.

What makes this shot even more unlikely is that it’s an HDR image taken with a point-and-shoot camera, which is theoretically possible but highly impractical. After a few minutes of watching this incredible sunset and castigating myself for not having a real camera/tripod to photograph it with, I thought I should try to make the most the situation and attempt an HDR sequence anyways. I had to hold the camera firmly down against a deck railing and adjust the EV through a menu between each shot for a total of five times; even with my vicelike grip on it I still had to manually align all the images in Photoshop before importing them into Photomatix. Thankfully since I got a DLSR this isn’t something I’ll have to repeat, but I’m glad I made it work to capture this scene.

Electricity Stole Our Moonlight

One of the things I used to love about snow when I lived in the suburbs was looking outside at night and seeing the dark landscape illuminated by even the faintest rays of light from the moon. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen much outside our building in Arlington, but the consolation prize is this huge range of color temperatures from the street lamps and headlights. It’s a veritable rainbow of spectral artificiality. While being snowed in during the blizzard I popped my head outside and felt compelled to get a shot of this incredible variety of reflected light; it took longer than I thought and my feet started going numb while waiting for the exposures.