In my first post on night shooting in Washington, DC, I shared my images of the the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. After wrapping up there, I drove around the touristy regions of the city for awhile. Nothing seemed particularly appealing, so I made my way back to Arlington.
As I was crossing the Roosevelt bridge, I suddenly decided to turn off onto the GW Parkway and turn into the parking lot for Roosevelt Island. I remembered a path that trails alongside the Potomac river on the Virginia side of the water. There is a unique view of the city where the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the US Capitol Building are all visible. Most of the shots you see of these three landmarks grouped together are taken from a park in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial; that view orients the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building to the right of the Lincoln Memorial and is the most common shot. The view from the path that I was on places the Washington Monument and Capital Building to the left of the Lincoln Memorial.
This path is very popular with cyclists and joggers, but at night it is super quiet, and spooky. It honestly took all of my willpower to make the trek.
My first stop was a challenge to shoot in the dark. The view is from a wooden plank footbridge that doesn’t like to hold still. I set-up my tripod and mounted my Nikon 70-200 ƒ/2.8 VR II. For each shot, I would open the mirror, count to ten, hold my breath, and click the shutter. Despite all of that, most of the images still came out blurry. I did, however, get the shot below, and it has instantly become one of my favorite iconic Washington, DC images.
I love the composition. The silhouetted tree in the foreground with the silhouetted ducks in the lower left corner offer a sense of place; they also provide the asymmetry required to balance out the Washington Monument, which happens to be smack in the center of the image. I shot this image at 70mm with the ISO at 200, shutter at 3 seconds and aperture at ƒ/8.
I chose not to stay here long as it was pretty cold right alongside the water. I sauntered down the path a bit further, considering going as far as the Memorial Bridge, when I happened upon this next view.
I initially tried to grab this shot from in front of the tree, but there was no visual interest in the foreground, which made the image boring. As I turned around and started heading back to the path, I looked over my shoulder and saw what you see in the picture above. Bingo. I spent a little more time perfecting the exposure and getting the elements just right. This was shot at 130mm, and I set the aperture at ƒ/22 to achieve the star effect on the highlights (thanks to the 70-200’s 9 bladed aperture diaphragm). I set the shutter speed to 25 seconds to get the light streaks from the cars driving on Rock Creek Parkway. Again, the foreground is pure silhouette, but you can clearly see that I’m on the river bank, which generously helped the composition.
That concludes installment 2 of 3 of Night Shooting In Washington, DC – stayed tuned for the third later this week!
If you have a question about my process, settings, or anything else, please feel free to use the comments to ask – I’ll always answer :)
Cheers and Happy Shooting!