Setting the Scene – The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC
During our epic road trip, we stopped in the nation’s capital to snap some photos of the various monuments in the national mall. One of the most photogenic memorials is of course the iconic Lincoln Memorial. This huge structure has been photographed thousands of times, but not as much at night. That is a shame because it has amazing light at night, and there is a contrast between the statue of Lincoln, and the structure itself.
The Lincoln Memorial has been the site of many speeches, protests, and important events throughout the history of the United States. It sits at the west end of the reflecting pool, and at the opposite end is the World War II Memorial, and the immense Washington Monument.
Constructed in 1914, the Lincoln Memorial has stood proud ever-since and celebrates one of the greatest American Presidents – Abraham Lincoln. The style is that of a classical temple – it looks like something out of ancient mythology with its iconic colonnades and intricated stucco work on the frame.
The other main feature is of course the statue of The President himself. This huge marble statue weighs over 175t and was made from marble quarried from Georgia. Standing at 19ft tall, it is an imposing statue and the contemplating pose of Lincoln looks fantastic. It’s almost as if he’s looking down everyone.
During the day, the monument is interesting enough, however you can always bet on a large congregation of tourists. This can make photographic it difficult without extensive retouching and using a clone or heal tool to remove those unwanted people! As a result, we choose to photograph the monument at night. I feel this is an infinitely more interesting photo and the colors are superb.
Creating the Composition – Capturing the perfect scene before the FBI moved in!
As with other photos from this adventure, the conditions were freezing and it was incredibly cold. I am not sure how I still have the use of my fingers! Even with hand-warmers in my gloves, my digits still felt like icicles!
We were actually lucky to get this photo too. We had arrived in DC just before the inauguration of President Elect Biden and the security presence was highly noticeable. Just after we took photos at the Lincoln Memorial, we were kicked out of the National Mall!
Virtually every law enforcement branch or government branch was there including the FBI, Secret Service, National Guard, and Capitol Police! You can even see some of the military standing on the right-hand side of the memorial. They were incredibly pleasant, but still we were lucky to get the snaps!
This was one of the easier photos to take regardless of the weather conditions. Still, I had to work fast and use the correct exposure and shutter speed to ensure the lighting was bright enough, and the photo was still sharp. I also used a wide-angle lens to frame the memorial properly in its surroundings.
I like the contrasting colors of the memorial, the trees, the sky, and the statue. Also, the lighting casts a subtle glow on the stone paving in front of the memorial steps. I am also pleased with the quality of this snap – if you zoom-in on the statue of Abraham Lincoln, you can clearly read the inscription written on the wall behind! Moving up, if you look above this, you can also see the inscriptions of the 36 States that were part of the Union at the time of The President’s death.
What Makes This Photo Stand Out?
There are many elements that I love about this photo. Firstly, the story behind this photo is something I will always remember. The fact that we were kicked out of the National Mall by the FBI, National Guard, and Capitol Police just after taking the photo was a pure stroke of luck! If we were any later, this shot would have never existed – this goes to show how important timing and luck are for photography – sometimes things just go your way!
Secondly, the fantastic lighting of this photo really sets it apart. There are so many contrasting lighting elements that combine together to produce a cool shot. For example, the memorial has a beautiful white light, which is contrasted by the brighter light shone on President Lincoln. Also, the trees have a warm glow that further emphasizes the memorial.
I also love the composition. Its relatively simple, but it is effective. The rule of thirds is used and the memorial is framed in the top third of the photo. Also, generally you are not meant to center your subjects. However, in this shot, the fact that the marble statue of Lincoln is central works perfectly – your eyes are immediately drawn towards him.