Tag Archives: night photography

Washington DC at Twilight

More specifically, the Georgetown neighborhood. Georgetown may be many things (incredibly overpriced, a tourist trap, insanely busy and difficult to navigate because they refused the Metro when the system was being built) but it is very vibrant and there’s always something going on. It still retains much of the late 18th/early 19th century architecture from when Georgetown was actually a separate city from Washington DC, and has a very distinct feel. I like getting out and photographing there, especially at twilight into the sunset hour, because Georgetown’s position on the crest of a hill overlooking the Potomac really captures the light of that hour like no other part of the city.

This is looking east along M Street, one of the main commercial corridors in Georgetown, from the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street. The sun is setting, the light is fading, and the traffic and street lamps are glowing with the first hints of night lights.

EastOnMStreet

The cyclist is moving just fast enough to be blurred as he passes through the scene.

Here is the famous Farmers and Merchants Bank at the corner of Wisconsin and M Streets. This is an absolutely iconic structure in Georgetown, and is instantly recognizable around the world to people who have visited Washington DC.

GeorgetownBankNight3cars

I love the dull gleam of the gilded dome of the bank catching the last rays of the sun.

And here is a glimpse of Georgetown’s industrial waterfront past, where the C&O Canal carves its last yards of waterway through the city before meeting the Potomac River, and where the warehouses for tobacco, wheat, corn, cotton and local products were stored, bought, and sold at the last navigable port on the Potomac.

CanalSunsetGtown

Today, fancy boutiques and high-end condos line the canal, the smokestacks of power plants remaining as decorative follies to remind us of the town’s industrial past.

When life hands you lemons…

Make lemonade!

I was out running errands yesterday, and after a successful outing to Home Despot (yes, I know how I spelled it…) to get new paint for the bedroom (Martha Stewart Living colors if you must know, Azurite (dark blue, not quite Navy) for the accent wall and the entryway, and Etched Glass (very pale blue) for the main walls), I came home to find a football game in progress at the neighboring high school. The high school has about four parking spaces, all of which are currently demolished during renovations of the school, so anyone who drove to the game parked in the neighborhood. Meaning that I had to double-park to unload the paint, then drive around in circles for fifteen minutes before giving up.

This was actually the good thing – I gave up, and drove down to Chinatown (well, DC’s ersatz Chinatown wannabe – there’s maybe eight chinese restaurants, and the Chinatown Arch, and then to keep it looking “like Chinatown”, the CVS, the Irish Pub, Fuddruckers, and Hooters (yes there’s a Hooters in DC’s Chinatown) all have duplicate signage in Chinese characters). There’s plenty of colorful neon signs in Chinatown so I figured it would be a target-rich environment for doing some night photography. And lo-and-behold, what did I happen to have in the trunk of my car but my 5×7, pre-loaded with some Kodak Portra 160 from a previous outing that was fruitless.

This was particularly successful as it provided me with an opportunity to test out the lenses I just got back from being serviced. I had sent off the shutters to my Turner Reich 12/19/25 triple convertible, Kodak 12″ commercial Ektar and 14″ Commercial Ektar. I didn’t have the 14″ Commercial Ektar with me because it won’t fit on the 5×7’s front standard – it’s a big fat lens in a #5 Ilex shutter, and the Canham takes a Linhof Technika lensboard. Meaning the lensboard can’t take the 14″ Commercial Ektar in itself, and the lens is so heavy it might torque itself off the front standard if given half a chance. The 12″ Commercial Ektar though is in a #4 shutter, which is a fair sight smaller. What a difference two inches makes! I’ll have to take the film in to Dodge/Chrome on Monday after work.

So, long story short, the football game that kept me from parking got me out of the house and off my ass, and I had a productive evening shooting perhaps seven sheets of 5×7 color. Thank You Cardozo High football team!

San Francisco Sojourn Part 3

Even MORE of my San Francisco images.

Windows, Jin Wang Boutique
Windows, Jin Wang Boutique
Hotel Triton, Grant Street
Hotel Triton, Grant Street

All of these were shot with my 240mm Voigtlander Heliar f4.5 lens. It is fast becoming one of my favorite lenses for its rendition of out-of-focus areas. I  knew it was a legendary lens for black-and-white shooting, but was unsure how it would render color. As you can see here, it does a beautiful job with color, despite being uncoated. It does give a slightly vintage look to the color palette, but some of that might also be the film I’m using – Kodak Portra 160 NC.

San Francisco Sojourn Part 2

More of my San Francisco images.

Maru Sushi, Powell Street
Maru Sushi, Powell Street
Grant Hotel and the Nob Hill Theater, Bush Street
Grant Hotel and the Nob Hill Theater, Bush Street

While I was out shooting these photos, I was approached by a number of people to talk about the camera, which I’ve come to expect. ALMOST all of them are very interested in what I’m doing, what’s the story of the camera, how old is it, etc. And then you get the occasional joker, like the fools driving past me in their Porsche sedan who had to roll down the window and shout, “Haven’t you heard of a thing called digital? Why haven’t you gotten with the program yet?” To which I responded – ” This (my 5×7) is a half a Gigapixel”. I smiled politely, turned my back, and muttered to myself, “so bite me”. Which is actually a bit of an understatement – a 2000 dpi scan of a 5×7 negative is 1.4 gigapixels.

Chinatown Gate
Chinatown Gate

San Francisco Sojourn

I just got home from a well-deserved, long overdue vacation to San Francisco. It’s one of my favorite cities on earth. I love the geography of the place, the architecture, and how they’ve managed to balance proximity of a highly developed urban environment to wide open natural environment. You get the best of both worlds there. Tonight’s posting will be a bit of a departure for me as I mostly shoot black and white. These are large-format color images, shot at night. One night I wandered around the neighborhood of my hotel, shooting whatever struck my fancy, and another I took a side-trip up to the Castro to shoot some street scenes. Here are some first scans of the images.

Little Orphan Andy's, Market & Castro
Little Orphan Andy's, Market & Castro
Food Fair Market & Liquors, Bush Street
Food Fair Market & Liquors, Bush Street
Grocery & Liquor, Moon, 17th Street, Castro
Grocery & Liquor, Moon, 17th Street, Castro
The F-Trolley, Market & Castro
The F-Trolley, Market & Castro
The Castro Theater marquee
The Castro Theater marquee
Twin Peaks Bar, Market & Castro
Twin Peaks Bar, Market & Castro

A night at the circle…

Well, I finally got off my keyster and went out shooting tonight. I loaded up ten sheets of 5×12 in the Canham and went over to Dupont Circle to burn some long exposures onto film. This process always takes a lot longer than you think it should because inevitably setting up with a 5×12 (or any view camera for that matter) invites dozens of total strangers to approach you and ask questions. I always view it as an opportunity to educate people about the ongoing viability of film photography, and so I’m always happy to chat, even if the light is changing (fortunately after dark there’s no worry about the light changing – you only need to take one meter reading and stick with it for the rest of the shoot).

I’ve had this idea for a shot for a long time, and never quite got around to trying it until tonight. I did two versions of it – here’s hoping at least one works. The idea was a shot of a city bus pulling up to the bus stop, and loading/unloading passengers. Ideally it would be a 30-second or so exposure. I played a bit fast and loose with this one because the traffic pattern at the bus stop I was using resulted in a lot of stop-and-go and made it hard to get the shot in just 30 seconds. I’m going to develop the film tomorrow and we’ll see what came of it. If it worked as planned, I’ll have light trails leading up to the bus at the curb, and a fairly clear bus at the stop, along with the passengers and the interior. I did one version with my 240mm Apo-Germinar, which wasn’t wide enough to get the whole bus in at the bus stop. I switched to the 159 Wollensak Extreme Wide-Angle for the second shot, and stopped the lens down further to allow for the longer exposure time needed. I’m pretty sure I’ll get most if not all the bus in at the bus stop (I don’t mind if the roof gets a little cut off), but it’s hard to tell without watching the scene through the lens, and at that hour of the night it would mean waiting another half hour for the next bus to come around, and maybe nobody would be waiting to get on or wanting to get off at that stop, and I’d miss the shot. If this first try doesn’t work out, I’ve got other locations I can give a whirl that might work better.