A monthly series by E. David Luria, Founder & Director of the Washington Photo Safari
US Air Force Memorial
Not quite in memorial mecca (but overlooking it) is the US Air Force Memorial - one of the newest memorials in metropolitan DC. If you’re exploring the Arlington side of our great city, it’s worth more than a fly-by (which is what you will do when taking a taxi from Regan National Airport into DC and passing the memorial on your way). It’s composed of three spires that symbolize, among other things, the soaring “bomb burst” formation of Air Force jets memorializing a soldier who has died, a bronze Honor Guard and a Glass Contemplation Wall. One of the major design challenges of this memorial was representing air – the medium in which Air Force soldiers airmen operate. Thus a photograph juxtaposing the two elements – real and virtual – captures the memory the designer intended its audience to have while experiencing the memorial. To get this photograph, stand right under the memorial and shoot straight up at the sky on a sunny day with clouds, underexpose by one stop and use a circular polarizing filter to make the white clouds whiter and the blue sky bluer. (In black and white, use a red filter to really make the sky dark and the clouds white) Then, kneel in back of the row of airmen and shoot from a low angle up at the memorial, incorporating the soldiers in the front of your picture. Another nice shot is the view of the DC skyline from the base of the memorial, especially at night! The memorial is located right next to the Pentagon on Columbia Road.
Latter Day Saints Temple
One of DC’s greatest attributes is the availability of free events and things to do year round and the holidays are no different. Consider going to the Festival of Lights happening daily at dusk at the Mormon Temple in Kensington, MD, just north of the Beltway. This is one the MOST spectacular Christmas light displays you have ever seen: 400,000 lights trimming all the bushes and the trees, a lighted crèche, and the stately temple itself. To be sure, the Temple is off the beaten path which includes no Metro train stop. Thus you’ll need to hire a taxi, but its well worth it. To preserve your visit on camera, be sure to bring your tripod and slow shutter speed skills. When shooting the lights, use the Tungsten/Incandescent white balance setting, get the Temple from different angles, but the best one is from the patio of the Visitor Center, with its small reflecting pool giving you a reflected image of the Temple. Dress warmly!
National Portrait Gallery
After a belly busting lunch in DC's hottest new district: Penn Quarter, walk off your meal by stopping in at the National Portrait Gallery and American Museum of Art located at the corner of 8th and F Streets NW. The gallery inhabits the old U.S. Patent Office and was the site for Lincoln’s second inaugural ball. It’s resembles the Greek Parthenon (much like the Lincoln Memorial) with dramatic porticoes inside ushering you through collections and exhibits such as the American Presidents and The Struggle for Justice. Best of all, most exhibits are open to photography (but leave your tripods and flashes in your bag). Capture the dramatic architecture of this building (recently renovated in 2006) by setting your camera on its highest ISO (1600 or 3200), using a nice fast lens like a 50mm F1.4 or F1.8 or a 35 mm F1.8, to give yourself a faster shutter speed in low light. Hold your camera very tightly as you frame each shot of a painting or piece of sculpture. You will be amazed how easy it is to walk out of the Gallery with such beautiful works of art in your camera! If your visit to DC happens in late January, consider joining the Washington Photo Safari at the National Portrait Gallery!
All photos courtesy of Washington Photo Safari. All rights reserved