One Photo Focus-Augsut 2016

One the first Friday of each month, Stacy Fischer’s AfterBefore Friday Forum invites all participants to work their magic on the same image–an image that is selected by one of the participants in advance.  Hence the title of the event is “One Photo Focus.”  It happens that this month I am the one supplying the image and I can’t wait to see what creative license is taken with it by the other participants.  Their creations can be found at Visual Venturing and I hope everyone will check them out.

Robin Kent 1PF August 2016 Original Raw Version)

Original Raw Image — Unprocessed

The original image (above) was taken during a recent trip to London.  I’m sure everyone recognizes the iconic London Eye, a 443-foot-high Ferris wheel, erected in 1999.  The building to the right is London County Hall which served as the city of London’s seat of government through most of the 20th century.  It now houses a variety of tourist attractions and an upscale hotel. The photo was taken from the Westminster Bridge and, if one looked 90 degrees to the left one would see an even more iconic scene, the buildings of Parliament and the grand tower with the famous clock known as Big Ben.

I decided to take the straight approach this time and stayed away from my favorite sandbox, AKA the Filter Gallery.  I followed my normal workflow by using Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) to set the black and white points, increase the clarity and vibrance a bit, and then opened it in Photoshop.  Once in Photoshop, the tilt of the big wheel was annoying so a slight adjustment with the Transform function (Edit->Transform) was used to fix the problem. There was also a smudge-like apparition in the clouds left of the wheel’s center that needed removal. These adjustments are shown in the image below.

Robin Kent 1PF August 2016 Color Version)

Image after ACR and Basic Clean-up in Photoshop

Thinking what to do for One PhotoFocus, I thought he dark clouds seemed to be the most dramatic feature.  One possibility that seemed promising was to take advantage of those clouds in a black and white photograph.  This was accomplished with an Adjustment Layer (Layer->New Adjustment Layer->Black and White.  The High Contrast Red Filter preset was used to further emphasize the clouds.Finally I used a mask and a curves adjustment layer to strengthen the contrast of the water and the right half of the building.  The final image is shown below.

Robin Kent 1PF August 2016 BW Version)

Final Image

Thanks once again to Stacy Fischer for keeping our merry band of post processors on track.  Please visit her site at Visual Venturing to see the creative imaginations of the other participants.

Cherry Blossoms at Peak

 

The cherry trees were entering the peak phase today and the tidal basin was lined with photographers at sunrise.  Last night, however, there was a full moon and only three of us (photo colleagues Joan and Cynthia) were shooting in this new location.

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Full Moon, View from Virginia Shoreline

(Technical: Nikon D810 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens extended to 165mm; exposure: 2.5 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 400; taken about 35 minutes after sunset)

While the moon was rising the cherry trees were hard at work, getting ready for this morning.  Both of the images below were taken before sunrise this morning.

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Dawn, Tidal Basin

(Technical: Nikon D810 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 24mm; exposure: 5 sec. at f/16, ISO 800; On-camera flash at reduced power to provide slight fill on blossoms, taken about 35 minutes before sunrise)

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Dawn, Jefferson Memorial

(Technical: Nikon D810 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens extended to 48mm; exposure: 0.5 sec. at f/16, ISO 800; On-camera flash at normal power to provide fill on blossoms, taken about 25 minutes before sunrise)

I suspect none of the photographers there were thrilled to see all those cranes to the left of the Jefferson Memorial.  They are in the early phases of a major development along the waterfront on Maine Avenue.  I suspect most of us will be using Photoshop to “disappear” them.

The blossoms will be with us for a few more days, weather permitting.

Keep Shooting….

Cherry Blossom Update

Photo colleague Carla and I checked out potential images on Friday afternoon and concluded that the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin will not be ready for prime time until Monday or Tuesday.  And the prospects for rain and snow on the weekend have raised some concerns that the blossoms may be damaged before then. A thorough article in the Washington Post provides the details.

On the positive side, the magnolia trees continued to be magnificent everywhere they are growing as illustrated in the image below.

Cherry Blossoms 01

Magnolia Trees at Enid Haupt Garden, Smithsonian Castle

(Technical: Nikon D810 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at 35mm.  Hand held, with fill flash 1/200th sec. @ f/16, ISO 400)

They also can be found, among other places, in the Outdoor Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art, Rawlins Park between the two lanes of E Street, and a small stand near the Korean War Memorial.

Cherry Blossoms 02

Magnolia Trees Reflected in Korean War Memorial Pool

(Technical: Nikon D810 with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens at 200mm.  Hand held, exposure of 1/160th sec. @ f/14, ISO 800)

In addition to the Magnolias, the weeping cherry trees are in excellent viewing condition, but tend to be found as single trees in various locations.  The weeping willows along the Potomac are also looking very nice.

Cherry Blossoms 03

Weeping Willow Trees and Weeping Cherry along the Potomac

(Technical: Nikon D810 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at 29mm.  Hand held, exposure at 1/125th sec. @ f/14, ISO 400)

And if you are over in the Federal Triangle area, check out the newly restored Mellon Memorial Fountain at 6th Street and Constitution Avenue.  I suspect it will look good in any weather.

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Mellon Memorial Fountain, March 17, 2016

In the meantime,

Keep Shooting…..

Return to the Living

There was a good news story in Washington, DC today.  The Andrew W. Mellon Memorial Fountain, situated at the apex of the Federal Triangle complex in downtown Washington, is now operating again after an 8-year hiatus.  In a special ceremony this morning, the 75th anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, the fountain burst back to life in dramatic fashion.

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Mellon Memorial Fountain, Running Again

Designed in a style similar to a fountain in Genoa, Italy, the Mellon Memorial Fountain consists of three nested bronze basins, from which water cascades into a low granite-curbed pool, measuring 55 feet, 4 inches in diameter. Water is supplied from the central jet or plume, and flows from the two top tiers into largest and deepest of the bronze basins. The water is kept at a constant level by sophisticated controls and is tempered and smoothed by means of a bronze baffle, so that when it finally pours over the lip of the basin, it becomes a clear transparent sheet of water.

Cast by Roman Bronze Works and General Bronze Corporation in 1952, it is thought that this was the largest bronze fountain known at the time of construction. The material is known as statuary bronze—a quaternary alloy made of copper, zinc, tin, and lead, and traditionally golden brown in color.

Sidney Waugh, commissioned to design the reliefs for the lowest basin, created twelve high-relief symbols of the zodiac that were cast in bronze and applied to the fluted wall. The sign of Aries is situated so that the sun shines on Aries on March 21—the vernal equinox.

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Sunrise, Mellon Fountain

(Photographed today as the rising sun illuminated the basin and the Aires symbol)

I first photographed the fountain six years ago, after I learned about its relationship to the solar cycle.  I visited at sunrise on the morning of that year’s spring equinox and was saddened by its pathetic condition.  I have always been hopeful that it would someday be brought back to life.  The photograph below provides a rough idea of its condition in 2010.

Mellon Fountain 01

Sunrise on Vernal Equinox, March 2010

The fountain and surrounding triangular park, which are dedicated to Gallery founder Andrew W. Mellon, had been the responsibility of the National Park Service.  But in September 2015 custody was transferred to the National Gallery of Art.   The rapidity of the renovation under the aegis of the National Gallery is impressive.

According to the Gallery’s press office, their conservators worked with Washington-area firm Conservation Solutions, Inc. to assist in carrying out the treatment on the bronze fountain. In order to preserve the bronze patina while removing a green mineralization buildup, the team used a special method of blasting dry ice (CO2) on the metal surface instead of using strong chemicals or an aggressive mechanical process to remove the multiple corrosion layers. The process revealed a stunning surface, with original brushstrokes of protective wax visible across the bronze. Several layers of a new protective wax coating were added to help preserve the bronze surface. Annual maintenance will be carried out in the winter when the fountain is not operating.

Mellon Fountain 03

Throwing the Switch

Special thanks to my photo colleague, Michele, who alerted me to this event and to gracious staff at the National Gallery who invited me to attend their press briefing and rededication ceremony.  More can be learned about the history of the fountain here.  Information about the origins of the National Gallery of Art can be found here.

It’s Later Than You Think

Spring is arriving early in Washington, DC this year and time is running out for those wanting to partake of the annual visual treats that emerge after winter every year.  The cherry blossoms still have a ways to go, but there is much to be seen already.  A good place to start is the Smithsonian Institution’s Enid Haupt Garden on Independence Avenue.  I visited it late yesterday afternoon and found the magnolia trees in perfect condition.

Smithsonian 01

Moongate Garden and Smithsonian Castle

(Nikon D810 on tripod, with 24-70mm f.2.8 lens extended to 26mm; exposure: 1/60th sec. @ f/16, ISO 400; two vertical images photomerged)

When I moved to the opposite side of the Moongate pool, another opportunity presented itself.

Smithsonian 02

Magnolia Tree and West Wing, Smithsonian Castle

(Nikon D810 on tripod, with 24-70mm f.2.8 lens extended to 50mm; exposure: 1/30th sec. @ f/16, ISO 400; approximately 45 minutes before sunset)

The above image is a view toward the north.  But there was more.  The setting sun occasionally found an opening in the clouds and provided a few brief illuminations of the Arts and Industries Building to the east as shown in the image below.

Smithsonian 04

Magnolia Trees, Enid Haupt Garden

(Nikon D810 on tripod, with 24-70mm f.2.8 lens extended to 66mm; exposure: 1/13th sec. @ f/16, ISO 400; approximately 40 minutes before sunset)

Update:  A check on the cherry blossoms early this morning (March 11) showed that it will be at least a few days before they are ready for their moment to shine.

A Winter Day in Central Park

I was in New City on Thursday for a quick business trip with my wife.  Arriving a few hours before the business meeting, we decided to take a walk in Central Park.

 

NYCD-16-01-28-1778A Horse Carriage Continues a 150-year Tradition

The recent snow is no problem for the horse carriages, but the city’s mayor is still out to curtail, if not eliminate, them.

 

NYC D-16-01-28-1663Artists selling their works were out in force.

 

 

NYC D-16-01-28-1650As were couples recording their memories.

 

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The ice rink was busy as usual

But our destination was the zoo.  At the entrance one will find the famous George Delacorte Musical Clock, which is built on a triple archway passage into the zoo.  Flanking the clock on either side are G. R. Roth’s Honey Bear and Dancing Goat bronze sculptures dating from 1935.

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Roth’s Honey Bear

Supposedly during daylight hours, a selected tune is played by bells while bronze sculptures of a bear with tambourine, a hippopotamus with violin, a goat with pan pipes, a kangaroo and offspring with horns, and a penguin with drum glide around the base of the clock. In addition, on the hour, two bronze monkeys on the top of the clock appear to strike a bell. We saw the monkeys striking the bell, but the animals did not move while the song was played.  Still, it is a very cool clock.

NYC D-16-01-28-1669Visitors Watching the Delacorte Clock Announce the Time

 

Inside the zoo, the visitors were often as entertaining as the inmates.

NYC D-16-01-28-1672Sea Lion Striking a Pose

 

NYC D-16-01-28-1700This Snow Monkey appeared distraught that the snow in his compound had mostly melted.

 

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A Seal Creates a Kaleidoscope of Reflections as it Swims

But our favorite stop was the snow leopard compound where, if one is lucky and patient, they can capture an image that almost appears to be taken in the wild.

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Snow Leopard Cub (about 20 Months) Moves Across the Snow

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The Same Cub, Striking a Pose

The cub shown here is one of a pair of twins who, a few minutes earlier, had been frolicking in the snow.  But unfortunately, their antics were almost completely obscured by rocks and bushes so that classic, prize winning image was not captured.  So I guess I will have to….

Keep Shooting…..

 

 

Hidden Gems:  Hartford’s Sculpture Walk at Riverfront

Tomorrow’s meeting wasn’t going to start until 9:30 AM and the hotel was a 2-minute walk from the Connecticut River.  A quick check of The Photographer’s Ephemeris app revealed there would be an opportunity for a sunrise illumination (at 7:05 AM) of the Hartford skyline across the river.  OK, set the alarm for 6:15 AM.

Arriving at the river’s edge the next mornioing about 20 minutes before sunrise, I had a few minutes to check things out and noticed a stairway leading up to Founders Bridge. At the top of the stairs,there was a magnificent pedestrian walkway, wide enough for a car and way better than anything we have in Washington.

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Founders Bridge, Hartford Connecticut

And it turned out this was no ordinary promenade.  It was part of the Lincoln Sculpture Walk that follows a course through two riverside parks, one on each side of the river.  Made possible by a $500,000 donation from the Lincoln Financial Group, a local firm, it features 15 permanent sculptures dedicated to the life and times of Abraham Lincoln. Those who know my photography know that the Lincoln Memorial is one of my favorite subjects.

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“Emancipation,” by Preston Jackson

This sculpture, “Emancipation,” was fortuitously (for me) placed right a few steps from the stairway landing.  It is one of two works in the Sculpture Walk by Preston Jackson, a prominent African American artist from the Art Institute of Chicago.  It depicts a female slave carrying her infant and a few possessions toward freedom.  The soft illumination of the twilight minutes before the sunrise seemed to underscore the power of the work.

As the sun edged above the horizon, the colors began to illuminate the city’s skyline.  The image below was captured one minute after sunrise.

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Sunrise View of Hartford from Founders Bridge

But I could see that there were might be more potential down below along the river’s edge and I retreated down the stairway and found a good spot to wait. My luck continued as a series of clouds continued moving in from the west and the light breeze began to subside.  And sure enough, about 15 minutes later, the golden light reached its peak.

Hartford D-15-12-04-0266_68-RAW Pano

As I walked back to the hotel, it seemed that going out for a morning walk was a lot better than sleeping in.

 

Keep Shooting…..