Friday, April 9, 2010

20100409 Chicago & Skyline Project

Date: April 9-11, 2010
Travel: Flight, L
Lodging: Hilton Garden Inn
Photos: 20100409 Chicago Skyline Project

After buying a better more portable MODO tripod for my trip in DC, I decided I would put it to more work when I was back in Chicago. The best time to play with it would be at night of course. The results were fantastic, and I just like how much more portable it was then my last tripod. I had a new project in mind, one that was inspired from a book photography book I received for my Birthday. I called it the Transitional Chicago Skyline project, which essentially was capturing the Chicago skyline project through out certain times during the day and then creating an image that displayed this time transition. It was a mild sunday in the Spring, making it bearable to be outdoors into the night, but the breeze by the Lake would make it cold enough so there wasn't going to be a crowd of people. This project would utilize all the techniques that I pretty much knew of and applied it. One of the better skyline vantage points is by the Adler Planetarium, which sticks out into Lake Michigan, and had a coastal view of the Chicago skyline. I had my Powershot with me to create a sunset timelapse while I was just in the area anyway. The essentials of this project was to make sure I find a spot where I could return later and capture the image at the same perspective. So I found a crack near a light post that I would place my tripod and camera on. Then at different times of the day I would capture multiple images of the skyline so that I would be able to stitch it again later. I also captured multiple exposures so that I was able to capture a higher dynamic range (HDR) and post process later. So around noon I had 1 capture, another one at sunset, then twilight and then finally at night. I created the multiple panoramas, and then blended the layers together to create some transitional images. For 1 transition, I had the the images of the day blended with sunset. Another I had sunset, day, and then night. And then another one I created one with just the sunset into the evening, which created a very dramatic sky.

Skyline during the day
Skyline at sunset

Skyline at night
Skyline with day and sunset transition
Skyline with day, sunset and night transition

Skyline with transition from sunset, twilight, and night

Sunday, April 4, 2010

DC In Bloom

Date: Saturday & Sunday, April 3-4, 2010
Travel: Flight, Metro
Lodging: Hilton Washington
: 20100403 DC In Bloom

In between weekends at nearby clients, I was able to spend some of my Hilton points and spend a weekend in Washington DC. This weekend was a little more special in the nations capital, as this was during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. This would also be the first weekend after the Peak Bloom date, which was March 31 for 2010. I flew into Reagan National airport, and was fortunate to get a window seat. We were able to fly by the National Mall which was a spectacular view from the air. It was also going to be a weekend of long awaited sunshine, a weekend which was going to symbolize the entry of spring, one of which was following the snowiest winter recorded to date. All in all, this makes a formula for a CROWD. I was prepared to get around by public transit and by foot, as I have heard the roads were going to be clogged.

It was a little chilly at first, but the sun came out and really warmed things up. I knew I needed to avoid the Smithsonian metro station first, although I couldn't avoid it eventually, as it is extremely crowded. After a short walk from the station, I was able to witness the beauty that the country of Japan has given to the city. The surrounding Tidal Basin was surrounded by Cherry blossoms. Blossoms were all around, but so were the people, as the density in DC Land was similar to that of Disney Land. The sidewalks around the basin were not really designed for such heavy traffic. It was one of those days that would be great time to just whip out a towel, and just sit down, relax and have a little picnic.

The better parts of the basin was on the western side, where the FDR memorial resides, as it requires a longer walk, has fewer restrooms, and thus there were fewer people. That doesn't mean that it wasn't crowded though, filled with the Asian tourists (including myself) taking pictures. It was much less than the north part of the basin near the National Mall, which was pretty much elbow to elbow. After walking pretty much everywhere, I found a nice little spot, which there were only a few people around, with an excellent view of the Jefferson Memorial. The only bad part was that there is no food or restrooms to be found. It was a good reason to pack light, and by not eating or drinking much, I held my natural urges for the entire day. Being in such a peaceful spot, this was an opportune time to also give my new MODO tripod a try. I love the thing, and so I also gave it a shot at night.

The following day, I visited a couple of the Smithsonian Museums, one of which was the National Portrait Gallery which was near "Chinatown." One of the amusing things are that there are clearly American establishments, such as Chipotle, McDonalds, and a Texas BBQ joint, but their signs had Chinese characters on them. I suppose that makes it more Chinese and worthy to be a Chinatown. I recall someone telling me that in Chicago, there is a greek town, and a CVS or Walgreens Pharmacy store in that area had to create a sign that said "Apothecary" in the Greek style letters to help make it feel like its part of Greek town.

After visiting a farmer markets and street markets, I stopped again by the capitol building for one of my timelapse projects. I was not able to stay out too long, as I had to make late night drive to the Philly area. Aside from the crowd, the National Cherry Blossom Festival was worth to see, with the mix of a little bit of nature mixed in with the settings of the national monuments. I suppose the next step is to see the blossoms in Japan.