Evan Gearing's Photography Exposition

“Washington DC”

Guarding the Tomb

This Memorial Day weekend is for relaxing, bar-b-que-ing and generally enjoying ourselves.  However, it’s really the weekend for reflecting on those who sacrificed their lives so we can do those things. Please remember those who gave their lives for our freedom.

This is a shot of a Soldier guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery near our nation’s Capital.  Not sure if you can read the inscription on the tomb itself, but it states, “Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God.”  It’s an impressive and moving sight if you ever get a chance to go.

The Tomb Guard marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process. After the turn, the sentinel executes a sharp “shoulder-arms” movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the Tomb and any possible threat. Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed — the 21-gun salute.


National Cathedral

Shooting the National Cathedral in Washington DC is a must for photographers.  It is a spectacular site to see.  It’s gothic design and the expanse of the inside is something to behold.  It begs to be shot with a wide angle lens and, speaking of angles, I don’t know if there is a bad one in the place.  I took this shot while visiting a couple of years ago and I’m so glad I did.  The bad thing was, there was a wedding this particular day and I only had a few minutes to shoot.  I’m happy with what I got, but it would’ve been a little better had I not been rushed.  Oh well, you take what you can get, right?

Enjoy the shot and thanks for dropping by.  (Click the shot for a larger view)


Veteran's Day and the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater

Arlington Memorial Amphitheater Entrance

From the Department of Veterans Affairs:

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” – officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.”

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

The picture above is of the entrance to the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC.  I thought it an appropriate shot to post in recognition of the upcoming Veterans Day.  The amphitheater sits next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  If you see a veteran, please take a moment to thank a him or her and also, please take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices our vets have made to keep us free.

Thanks for visiting.

This shot was processed as usual.

Other settings include:

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6D EX DC HSM Autofocus Zoom
ISO: 640
Aperture: f5.6
Exposure Bias: -0.67
Shutter: 1/2500
Focal Length: 17mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 5 exposures with EVs ranging from -2 to +2 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Auto
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com


Side Drive at the National Cathedral

Side Drive at the National Cathedral

I was perusing the vault located on the compound here known as Evan’s Expo and discovered a relic of a shot from days long ago.. April of this year. OK, maybe not that long ago, but it’s a shot that I processed from my trip to DC and forgot to put out there. Not sure if I really forgot, or if I subconsciously refused to put it out because I thought it not blog-worthy, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. It’s a shot of the National Cathedral I took while waiting to go in for the tour. This was the driveway that rolls up on the side of the place. I think it’s where dignitaries and such drive up and go into the place.

This shot was processed as usual.

Other setting include:

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6D EX DC HSM Autofocus Zoom
ISO: 200
Aperture: f11
Exposure Bias: -0.67
Shutter:1/320
Focal Length: 10mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
Bracketing: 5 exposures with EVs ranging from -2 to +2 at 1 stop intervals
White Balance: Auto
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord

From the blog at http://egearingphoto.blogspot.com


Cathedral Sitting Room

National Cathedral Sitting Room?

I really need to get out and shoot. Why? Because I’m starting to run out of things to post and plus I haven’t been out in a while to get anything worthwhile. The problem is I can’t think of a good place to go. Not to mention, I have some other projects around the house going on and those have focused my attention. But, maybe soon I’ll get some inspiration from somewhere. With that being said, this is one of the last shots from DC that I have. I have quite a few more, but they really aren’t very good. Maybe someday I’ll come back to them and try to make something of them.

Anyway, this is another shot from inside the National Cathedral. I’m not sure what the room is for, but it has some beautiful mosaics on the walls and I really like the gothic architecture of it all. I call it “The Sitting Room” because of all the chairs, but I bet it has something to do with either Bible study or Sunday school or something along those lines.

I used the old standard processing for this one.

Some of the specs for this shot are as follows:

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6D EX DC HSM Autofocus Zoom Lens
ISO: 200
Aperture: f11
Mode: Aperture Priority
Tripod: Induro AB0
Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord


National Cathedral Entrance

National Cathedral Entrance

When we arrived at the National Cathedral on our last day of touring DC, we got there a little early.  So we hung out right in front of the place and I snapped this off.  It’s very impressive from the outside and reminded me a lot 0f Westminster Abbey from when I was stationed in England many moons ago.  Since the Cathedral was just finished in 1990, it makes me think that this is what those old medieval Cathedrals must’ve looked like back in the 14/15th centuries once they were completed, before pollution and weather wore them down.  The Cathedral used 14th or 15th century craftsmanship to build it which leads me to that conclusion.  You can read more about the place here.

I used my standard processing except for a couple minor tweaks.  Instead of using about 67% opacity with the Pro Contrast filter in Nik Color Efex, I kept it at 100%.  The original tone-mapped image was quite dark and this opacity level turned out perfect.  The other tweak was that I had to use Nik Viveza 2.0 to lighten the sky in the upper left corner to lighten the sky a bit.  Lastly, I had to fix the perspective with the lens distortion tool in Photoshop and I had to use the warp tool because I guess I really had a bad angle or something when I took it.  It now looks pretty normal.

Some of the specs for this shot are as follows:

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6D EX DC HSM Autofocus Zoom Lens
ISO: 200
Aperture: f11
Mode: Aperture Priority
Tripod: Induro AB0

One last thing… Since most of the pictures I take now are HDR and I like to use at least 5 brackets most of the time, I’m thinking of upgrading to a Nikon D300 instead of a D90.  The D90 only lets one take 3 brackets at a time whereas the D300 lets one take up to 9 brackets, I believe. It’s a pain in the butt to change settings in the middle of a shot to get more than just 3 brackets, but the price of the D300s is a little high.  But, it also has a magnesium body and other cool things. Is that worth it?  If so, anyone have a used D300s for sale?  Any thoughts would be most appreciated.  Thanks!


Fun With the White House

Fun With the White House

This is a shot of the White House that I took on my recent trip to DC.  It’s the front of the house from what used to be the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Cars used to be able to drive on Pennsylvania Ave before 9-11, but now it’s close to traffic other than pedestrian. Here, I broke out the tripod, stuck the lens through the fence and snapped away.

We tried to get a tour, but it’s not as easy as it used to be.  Back in the day, all you had to do was buy a ticket at a place on the Elipse just south of the White House, line up on the east side of the White House, and go in at the time stated on your ticket.  At least that’s the way I remember it.  Nowadays, it’s not that easy.  You have to go through your representative’s office 6 months in advance, give them a range of dates you would like to go and then wait until 10 days prior to the dates you told them just to find out if you’ve been accepted or denied.  We, of course, were denied.  I’m not sure of the reason, whether it was because those days were already booked or because we were from Texas and our rep doesn’t like the present occupant too much.  Either way, it’s total BS.  We traveled all that way and did everything by the book and requested the tour as far in advance as possible and we still got denied.  It’s a shame.  My wife and I had seen it before, but we brought my wife’s Mom and one of her Mom’s old friends who really wanted to see it.  They didn’t get that chance, and I don’t know if they will again. 

This final product is a mish-mash of all kinds of processing to kind of give it some pizazz.  Not sure if I made it better or worse, but it’s growing on me a little.  I can’t really explain everything I’ve done, but I can tell you the programs I’ve used.  Those include my normal ones plus a new one that I haven’t talked about before.  The normal ones are Nik’s Color Efex 3.0 Pro, Viveza 2, and Sharpener Pro 3, Imagenomic’s Noiseware Pro, and the new one I used was Topaz Remask. Topaz Remask is one I haven’t tried before but since I bought the bundle a while back in which this was included, I thought might as well try it.

The original tone-mapped image was pretty blah and I didn’t like how the White House looked in it.  So I took one of the original brackets and masked in the White House.  It’s pretty easy to do in Topaz Remask.  You just trace around the portion you want to mask, fill in the area with a solid red or green depending on if you want to keep it or lose it and hit OK.  Remask does the rest.  It’s not perfect, but neither am I and I still have to read up on it and play with it a little more to really learn the intricacies of it.  After that, I just went crazy with a bunch of filters in Nik Color Efex including, Darken/Lighten Center, Indian Summer, Pro Contrast, Tonal Contrast, BiColor Filter (I think it’s called).  I used this with varying opacities and positive and negative control points.  I also used various control points in Viveza to change some brightness on the tree to the right, some of the sky, etc. I still think I need to do something more with the sky, but I’m getting kind of tired working on it.  You can compare what I’ve done above to the original tone-mapped image is below:

whitehouse_tonemapped

Sorry my explanations weren’t much better, but like I said, I’ve done so many different things to it that I just basically lost track.  One thing I have learned from these programs is that the more I use them, the more I know what look I can achieve while composing the original shot. I guess that  means I’m growing? Either that, or I’m really learning how to make my picture even worse than when they came out of the camera. 😉

Anyway, what do you think of my final shot, at least compared to the original tone-mapped one above?  Don’t hold back.  If you think it looks good, great.  But if not, tell me what you don’t like and let me know what you would do to improve it. BTW, I already know that the masking isn’t perfect on the left side.  I’m always open to suggestions.  Thanks!