Well, I’m sure everyone is putting up their take on the lunar eclipse that occurred a few hours ago. This is my first attempt at a multiple image composite showing the process of the eclipse. This sequence began at 5:35 AM EDT and ended at 6:45 AM after the moon became obscured by clouds or haze near the horizon. I used an intervalometer to control the camera sequence, taking one image every 60 seconds. The combination here is a selection of every fourth image. A few taken after the moon disappeared were also included in order to get a little more detail on the Lincoln Memorial and a better blue in the sky. The brightness of the illuminated crescent during the early exposures unfortunately blew out the portions of the moon in shadow. Nevertheless, the entire moon was visible to the naked eye. But if the weather cooperates on September 28, 2015 I’ll have another chance. In the meantime, I have 11 months to play around with this set to see if I can tease out more detail.
Breaking News: There is a new Memorial in town–the “American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial.” It was dedicated in a special ceremony on Sunday, October 5th and was opened to the public yesterday. An excellent article by Phillip Kennecott, the Washington Post Architecture Critic, gives all the details which can be found here.
The Monument is located on a small plot of land bounded by three main streets a block or so away from the US Botanical Garden. I visited it on Monday afternoon to check on the photographic opportunities. As Kennecott notes, with one exception, the location is not surrounded by a majestic background. That exception is the southwest corner where there is a fabulous view looking toward the US Capitol Building (northeast of the Memorial) as shown in the image below. Hard to see in this size, so click on the image for a better view. Mid-afternoon is not the best time for a photograph, but I imagine that this could be pretty nice at twilight.
The main features include two infinity pools. The larger pool, shaped as a triangle, is only ankle-high and on calm days could provide some impressive reflections as suggested by the image above. The second, is star-shaped and is about knee-high and punctuated by a burning flame emerging from a bubbling fountain (see image below).
At the south end, there is a series of glass panels, with etchings of quotes and images. It is this section which is the most compelling and reminds us of the costs of going to war.
While I was there I wandered over to the US Capitol to check on the progress of the scaffolding. It has grown considerably since my last visit but they have more to add. The entire West Front is becoming increasingly absorbed by the renovation work. There now is a shiny aluminum catwalk traversing the north (left) side of the building emanating from an enormous construction support compound that houses the nerve center of the renovation project.
But the positive news today is the appearance of this new memorial and the purpose for which it was created. When you get a chance, check it out. The Federal Center SW Metro stop is only two blocks away.
The Kennedy Center “After” Image
I am happy to once again submit an image to the After-Before Friday Forum sponsored by Stacy Fischer of Visual Ventures. The Forum allows photographers an opportunity to compare examples of how they process their images to accomplish their creative vision . Sometimes the changes are substantial; other times they can be minimal. My submission for this week’s Forum is somewhere in between. The fountain is in the Georgetown section of Washington DC but the Kennedy Center in the distance is the subject of the photograph. The image below, the “Before” image is the original RAW file before any adjustments have been made. (Technical data: Nikon D700 on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 70mm; exposure: 2.0 secs @ f/13, ISO 200)
Original RAW Image Before Adjustments
A number of issues are apparent when comparing the RAW image to the scene as I originally saw it. Most importantly, the sky is too bright and does not have the actual twilight blue of that evening. The screen capture below shows the adjustments that were made in the ACR window (red arrows).
Adjustments in Adobe Camera RAW
The most important change was in the white balance. As always, I had used Auto White Balance which usually does an excellent job. In this case, the color temperature was moved from 4850 down to 4150 to obtain a “cooler” look, and the tint increase from -23 to -7. The other adjustments were: decreasing the Highlights to -57; increasing the Shadows to +12; setting the white by increasing the Whites to +13; adjusting the black point by decreasing the Blacks to -23; increasing the Clarity a substantial amount to +53; and increasing the Vibrance to +37. These brought the image close to what the scene looked like on that evening. It was then opened in Photoshop CC.
Curves Adjustment Layer
Not much more was needed. First, as shown in the screen capture above, was an overall curves adjustment layer (red arrows) for a slight increase in contrast. One of the optional presets, “Linear Contrast” seemed to work best. The next step was to add a little more punch to the colors with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (red arrows) shown in the screen capture below.
The final step was to decide whether to remove some or all of the figures standing or sitting along the water’s edge. Some had moved during the 2-second exposure and the lack of sharpness was distracting. A combination of the Edit>Fill> Content-Aware tool and the Clone tool removed the blurred figures while leaving those that had kindly remained still during the exposure. The “After” image is shown again below.
Once again, thanks to Stacy Fischer for sponsoring the Forum. Please check out the other submissions at her Visual Venturing. And if you aren’t following Visual Venturing already, you might want to click that “Follow” button now, because I understand she is planning to announce a special feature for the Forum in the next week or so.