Moonrise: Thanksgiving Eve

Last night, my sister (who is a photographer based in Pennsylvania) and I decided to try and capture an image of the full moon rising.  My sister is visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday and the coincidence of a full moon in late November on a perfectly clear night with temperatures in the low 60s was impossible to resist.  The result is posted below.

Moonrise D-15-11-25-0173_177

Moonrise, Washington, DC

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Keep shooting….

 

Veterans Day 2015

Today is Veterans Day, originally established for commemorating the armistice that ended the hostilities of World War I, which ended the shooting on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.  Originally called “the Great War,” the conflict then became known as “the war to end all wars,” but now is merely called World War I.”  Rather than join the crowds and politicians at Arlington Cemetery, or partake of a free meal for veterans at one of the many chain restaurants, or buy a green LED light at Walmart, I thought I would visit the U.S. Institute of Peace, located at the intersection of Constitution Avenue and 23rd Street NW.

Veterans Day D-15-11-11-7538

Twilight, United States Institute of Peace

(Technical Data: Nikon D-800E, on tripod with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, set at 24mm, 10 seconds @f/16, f/16, ISO 400; photographed 25 minutes after sunset)

Those interested in knowing more about the U.S. Institute of Peace can check the organization’s website here.

Keep shooting…(but only with a camera)

Moonrise over Washington, DC

When you are trying for the classic moonrise over the city of Washington, DC, everything has to go perfectly.  Several of us made the effort on October 26th, knowing the weather would be bad on the following night, the night of the full moon.

We also knew before we arrived that conditions would not be perfect because the moon was coming up 15 minutes before sunset and it likely would be too high in the sky by the time the twilight blue was at its peak and the illumination of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and US Capitol were in balance with the ambient light still in the sky.  We also knew that the clouds could pose problems.

But, when we arrived, there was an additional problem.  The Marine Corps Marathon had been held on the previous day and our chosen location (near the Marine Corps Memorial) was also the location of the finish line for the race.  A massive disassembly effort was underway.

Moonrise 01

Unexpected Obstructions, 20 Minutes before Moonrise

Moonrise 02Another Surprise

Moonrise 03A

Passing Truck, 4 Minutes after Moonrise (not visible yet)

But, aside from the occasional passing vehicle, there was nothing that was directly obstructing the view.   By 6:15, the official time for the sunset, the moon was already pretty high and it was still too bright to see the illumination on any of the buildings below us.

Moonrise 04

Clouds obscuring the moon at Sunset (6:15 PM)

At 6:30, the twilight was a nice blue color, the clouds had abated, but the moon was too high.

Moonrise 05

Ideal Twilight, 15 Minutes after Sunset (6:30 PM)

So the only solution was to back off the focal length, and take the full scene and then do some post processing cheating.  The image above was taken with the telephoto zoom extended to 200 mm and the moon in its actuual location at the time.  The image below, taken a few seconds later with a 145 mm focal length, shows the moon in a decent location.  But it was just “moved” down during the postproceesing from where it was at the time the image was taken.  Not a bad result, but not something I will post on my website or offer for sale.

Oct 26 Moon

“Manufactured” Moonrise over Washington

Lessons Learned:

  1. If one wants to capture an image of the moon rising over the “Big Three” (Lincoln, Washington, and US Capitol), the specific location is right in front of the Netherlands Carillon a short distance south of the Iwo Jima Memorial.
  2. Using the well-known app “The Photographer’s Ephemeris,” the moon should be rising at an Azimuth reading of about 85 degrees.
  3. For ideal twilight conditions along with the lighting of the “Big Three,” the moonrise time should be about 15 minutes after sunset.

Keep Shooting….

Moon Over Jefferson Memorial

My previous post about a week ago featured a sunrise image of the Jefferson Memorial taken last April. So it might be appropriate to look at some additional images of the Memorial, but this time with the moon, especially since there was a full moon last night.

Jefferson Moonrise

Moon Rising over Jefferson Memorial (July 31, 2015)

The conditions may not have been perfect, but they were pretty close.  There was absolutely no breeze, so the tidal basin would produce a nice reflection.  The sky was clear, ensuring that the moon would be visible.

When photographing the moon, I prefer to use a telephoto lens to emphasize the dramatic effect of the moon.  The foreshortening effect makes the moon seem larger, especially if the camera is fairly distant from the primary subject which in this case was the Jefferson Memorial.  Last night, however, the location of the moonrise on the horizon dictated that the ideal place from which to shoot would be fairly close to the Memorial.  To get the entire Memorial, its reflection, and the moon in a single image would force the use of a lens no longer than 100mm.  But to emnphasize the moon’s size, it would be necessary to shoot with a 200mm setting.

The solution, of course, is to use the photomerge technique in Photoshop, Lightroom, or one of the several plugins available for this purpose.  The above image represents four separate images merged in Photoshop. (Technical data: Nikon D800E on tripod with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens extended to 200mm. Four exposures each at 1 sec., f/16, ISO 400)

Now there is another way to acquire a larger moon, which is considered by some (including myself) as a form of cheating.  An example is shown below.

Jefferson Moonset

Moon Setting Over Jefferson Memorial (April 5, 2015)

In this case, the moon was exceptionally bright and would be extremely overexposed. While HDR might be one option, there was a 7 or 8-stop difference between the correct exposure for the overall scene and the exposure needed for the moon.  Instead, it seemed like a good opportunity to experiment with blending two separate images.  This involved shooting the overall scene with one lens and the moon with a separate lens and then combining them in Photoshop.  I’m not thrilled with the result, mainly because it looks faked to me but maybe that is because I know it was.  (Technical data: Nikon D800E on tripod with 24-70 f/2.8 lens extended to 70mm; one exposure at 2 sec., f/13/ ISO 400.  Moon shot with 70-200mm lens extended to 200mm; exposure at 1/40th sec @ f/16, ISO 400)

The next full moon will be on the night of August 28th.

Keep Shooting…..

USAF Memorial at Night

The U.S. Air Force Memorial, sited on a promontory overlooking the Pentagon with a commanding view of the Washington skyline, is becoming an increasingly popular stop for busloads of students visiting the nation’s capital.

USAF 02

 

Following its dedication in 2006, it seemed few people knew of its existence, but it seems to have been discovered in recent years and the hours around sunset seem to be especially popular.

USAF 04

The memorial is the last major work designed by James Ingo Freed, who also designed the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.  It features three stainless steel spires that soar skyward, evoking the “bomb burst” maneuver perform by the Air Force Thunderbirds.

USAF 03

View to East with Honor Guard Sculpture on Right

The small vertical spire in image above—between the left and middle spires of the Memorial–is the Washington Monument.  The lower two-thirds of the Memorial’s spires are filled with concrete and the upper portions are hollow.  Each spire has a transition section between the concrete-filled and hollow segments containing a one ton lead ball that is allowed to roll in a steel damper box.  This feature is intended to stabilize the spires in high winds.

USAF 01

I visited the memorial earlier this week, and the high humidity combined with the floodlights on the South Inscription Wall made for a rather dramatic effect.

Tonight, and every Friday night during the summer, the USAF Band will perform a free concert for the public.  Click here for details

 

Keep Shooting….

New York City- Part 2

Spring is the best time to be in New York City.  Unfortunately, it is also the best time to be in many other places such as Washington, DC.  But when one has business in NYC in late April or early May, one must bring a camera.

The afternoon stroll through Central Park on our first day only whetted our appetite.  So it seemed that an evening visit to the top of Rockefeller Center would be a good way to end the evening.

NYC 01

Top of the Rock, looking south

(Technical: Nikon D800E, resting on balustrade, with 24-70 mm f/2.8 extended to 24 mm; Exposure: 0.6 sec. at f/16, ISO 800.)

NYC 02

 Setting sun, Top of the Rock, looking west

(Technical: Nikon D800E hand held, with 24-70 mm f2.8 extended to 42mm, Exposure 1/640th   sec. at f/10.0, ISO 800.)

The next day, we took the E Train to the World Trade Center to check out the progress on the new PATH Terminal designed by Santiago Calatrava and visit the 9/11 Memorial.  The last time I had been there was in May 2013, shortly after the Memorial had opened and security had been exceptionally strict.   They have relaxed a lot since then.  One can stroll right into the grounds.

NYC 04

View of one of the two reflecting pools, surrounded by waterfalls.

NYC 03

The names of the victims are inscribed in bronze around the twin pools.

Brookfield Place, housing scads of places to eat and shop, is right across the street in Battery City Park.  We only had time for a quick peek, but I am definitely going back to explore Le District (billed as a French market) in detail. This place is gy-normous.

NYC 05

The Winter Garden Atrium looking out toward the Hudson River

New York 06

View from Brookfield Place looking toward the PATH Terminal under construction.

The new PATH Terminal is suffering a lot of ridicule in the New York media. But, having seen structures designed by this controversial architect in places such as Valencia, Barcelona, Milwaukee,  California, and Buenos Aires, I expect it will be impressive once it is finished (assuming the engineers can fashion his design into reality).

The next morning we headed over to the High Line, a 1.5-mile elevated train line that has been transformed into a highly popular aerial greenway.

NYC 06

Tracks from the former NY Central spur line are integrated into the design

NYC 07

If it’s New York City, there will be a fashion shoot

NYC 08

Hidden Gem: The High Line Hotel courtyard, just a block away from the actual High Line, is a great place for a coffee break.  Previously part of a seminary, it was once a large estate and apple orchard owned by the man who is thought to have authored “The Night Before Christmas.”

NYC 09

The High Line has numerous, and often amusing, public art installations

NYC 12

The new Whitney Museum is located at the southern terminus of the High Line

NYC 11

It was opening day and the line stretched for several blocks.

NYC 10

But the view up there is supposed to be great

Maybe on the next visit….

Keep shooting.

Cherry Blossoms–Now?

Things are moving fast down at the Tidal Basin.  The partial eclipse at dawn on Saturday was a bust because of clouds, but there was a full moon rise that evening, and the Cherry Blossom Festival decided to launch a bunch of fireworks at about the same time.  .So of course I went down to practice my Fireworks-Moonrise-Jefferson Memorial-Night Scene technique.  The image below is the result.

Jefferson Fireworks

Moonrise and Fireworks, Jefferson Memorial

I’m not sure when I’ll get another chance at this combination, so I’ll have to be satisfied with this one unless I want to cheat.

On Sunday morning I returned for another moon image, this time the setting moon with the Jefferson which would also give me a chance to check on the status of the cherry blossoms. Even in the pre-dawn twilight it was obvious that they had been busy that night because there was a pink cast to the trees that had been absent the day before.  It’s hard to see in the small image below, but the so-called “indicator tree” that is typically a few days ahead of all the others was indicating good things were coming soon.  There were 9,000 people attending a sunrise church service on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial but there was hardly anyone around the Jefferson Memorial.

Jefferson Moonset 01

Setting Moon at Dawn, April 5

I returned again this morning and found the walkways were still virtually deserted.   However, there was an incredibly long line waiting for admission to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing which was fine with me. The pink tone in the trees was much stronger and the lack of wind before sunrise enabled some nice reflections.

Tidal Basin 02

Tidal Basin, 10 Minutes before Sunrise, April 6

Tidal Basin 01

Tidal Basin, 30 Minutes after Sunrise, April 6

Today was quite warm so there should be further progress on Tuesday.  The forecast for Tuesday calls for some rain and cloudy weather but a while back I stupidly made a morning dental appointment for this day.  But I’ll definitely be back there on Wednesday, rain or shine.