Capitol Capture

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how I took this, which got me to thinking that other people out there would be just as curious, and what better way to answer those burning questions than through my blog! I have to warn you; we are going down the rabbit hole with this entry and please don’t be intimidated by the technicality. I’m really trying to lay this out as simple as possible and if I overstep my intent of “everyman simplicity,” please let me know with a strongly worded comment below.

One of the first things I would advise someone to purchase who decides to get serious about photography is a solid tripod (here’s mine!). But don’t take it everywhere with you! I consider myself a pretty mellow guy, but I can’t stand seeing tripods during the day!!! Only carry it if you plan on shooting in low light or, want to capture yourself in the frame otherwise, there is no reason to use a tripod during the daytime and you are cleared hot to kick out any you see…just kidding! Many of those stunning landscape pictures that you may have seen are the result of a long exposure coupled with a high aperture. To accomplish this you HAVE to secure your camera, hand holding at high apertures in any medium to low light scenario turns out nominal results (or at least I think so). Using a tripod also diminished the amount of ISO you have to use, which in turn will make the sensor (or film) less sensitive to light and thus reduces the amount of noise present in the image.

Another huge help with long exposures is a cable release since you have to set your shutter speed to BULB for any exposures over 30 seconds. I recently purchased mine, but forgot it for this shoot since I originally intended on capturing the Capitol during sunset, whoops! Not the end of the world, but it was a pain to hold down the shutter button while not trying to move the camera, while holding my watch in the dark for 45 seconds…which leads me to another item, time. I have read a ton of different opinions on this subject, and I can’t seem to find one consistent agreement. My rule goes by post sunset; after the official time add a second for every minute thereafter, but keep in mind a lot of this is preparation and simple trial and error. Having your camera, tripod, cable release, and timer on hand at the planned time and place will help tremendously with the guesswork. And shoot, shoot, shoot. The worst thing that can happen is that you come home with a full memory card.

The quick and dirty; use a tripod, high aperture, keep the shutter open, crank down the noise, and happily see what comes out!

Good hunting!

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