As luck would have it I was going to be in DC working for my civilian airline and staying in downtown DC for 18 hours. This seemed like a reasonable amount of time to get over there and shoot a few frames, and redeem myself in the process. I figure this was going to be the closest I was going to get for a while so “strike the iron while it’s hot” so to speak. The arrival into IAD (Dulles) was late, which made getting up for sunrise less and less appealing. However the weather was forecast to be partly cloudy and brisk the next morning, perhaps great photo weather, so I thought I would give it a try.
We arrived about 01:00 am to the hotel. A quick look at the sunrise times and I realized this was going to a short night. Sunrise was scheduled for 07:10 the next morning, which meant I really needed to be there at least 30 minutes prior for Nautical twilight (that time the blue / orange / red colors appear before the sun crests the horizon – for you non-dork folks) I was keenly aware this may suck the next morning, but that’s what naps are for, right.
When the alarm went off I seriously contemplated staying exactly were I was, but I begrudgingly got out of bed and opened the drapes. If the city was covered in clouds I would have had a sigh of relief and gone straight back to bed. But no, partly cloudy skies, time to get dressed. Instinctively, I knew it was going to be a great morning for images and since my friend needed them I got ready and headed for the lobby.
Instead of riding the Washington DC Metro (which opens at 05:00 am and was literally 300 feet away) I chose a cab instead, it was warmer and more convenient, screw the $15.00 dollars. It was only about a 10 minute ride to the top of Arlington and the park where the memorial sits, as opposed to the 45 on the metro. Sometimes you’ve got to say “What the F%$#”
On the way the cab driver and I talked briefly, he asked me what I was doing there and what was the “big deal” about the memorial. He didn’t even know the memorial existed or what it stood for. I told him it signified all the wars, conflicts and battles that Marines had fought and died in. I didn’t have a tremendous amount of energy for a lessons in American history, so I did what everyone else does, I told him to look it up on Google. That was all I could muster for 6AM.
For all the Photo geeks like me – here’s what the settings and equipment were. I shot this on a travel tripod, using two Pocket Wizards as the trigger. I shot some in HDR using 5 exposures and some with only three. The camera settings were 200ISO, f5.6-f8 for a larger depth of field and the length of exposure was determined by the camera since I was shooting in Aperture priority.
I processed a few in Adobe Lightroom only opening up a few of the sliders like, clarity, shadows and contrast. Then I processed a few in photoshop using HDR software and a little layers management for the darker shadows.
After the sun came up and the traffic was at it’s peak I took the Metro back to the hotel and got back into bed for another few hours, glad to have “sucked it up” and gotten the shots you see here. I hope you like them, my editor did.