Sunday, January 27, 2008


This weekend I was presented with a great opportunity and a great challenge. I was lucky enough to be one of about 15 or so photographers to have free reign throughout the Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center out at Dulles International. (Thanks Rob!) The place is massive. And it has everything! From the Enola Gay to the Enterprise Space Shuttle...and more! As I said, quite the opportunity!

The great challenge? Making interesting photos. Like most museums Udvar-Hazy is well lit...not nicely lit, but well lit. The photo above of the Flying Tiger gives you a good idea about how it looks throughout all the hangars. Not very compelling, really. And, frankly, it's not supposed to be. It's a museum. It is supposed to display things for people to see. It's not supposed to look really cool for us photographers. That's our job. Make it look cool.

Well, I had no idea what I was going to do. I had brought a minimal amount of equipment, taking a less is more approach. I had never been there, knew nothing of the size of the space or the lighting or the things I'd see. Totally blind. So, after we were given a brief orientation we were set free. I walked around just taking a few snapshots here and there, getting acquainted...trying different compositions. But I bored quickly of that. I soon realized it was the dull lighting that was boring me. I had to create better light.

I pulled out of my pack two speedlights and a couple gels. One blueish-purple, the other amber. I underexposed the ambient light by about two stops--maybe just one and a half, not too sure. But this significantly brought down the plain white light of the museum making for pretty dark photos. I then simply needed to add my own light, using the colored gels to get a little drama out of them. I am fairly happy with the results, but I'd love to get back there someday with the knowledge of the place I now have...I'd bring a couple more speedlights, try a few more tricks.

Until then, here are a few of the shots from that morning. Hope you like.


  1. Is it lamer yet that just edited my entry and added a link to yours? ;-)

    Great images by the way. Glad you had fun. I'm certain that you images are the most unique of the bunch. I didn't see anyone else pressing the shutter button and then running around to the other side of the subject with a flash hoping to get positioned properly before the timer went off.

  2. Very cool, not lame. I'd still love to see all the others...or at least some. Everyone has their own take. Seeing how others "see" is very enlightening.

    You think we'll ever get to see Frank Herzog's? Can you imagine him scanning those large format negs...or were they transparencies?

  3. Totally awesome!

    The propellers and the different colors that appear are amazing. I truly like the shot of what appears to be gears on the propeller.

  4. Thanks. That's one of my favorites, too. Really would love to get back there someday. How does Bob like his new camera...does he have it yet?

  5. Mike: I've had it for a few weeks and did some bird shots in the backyard in Delaware last weekend. 3 woodpeckers showed up at once. Such a transition from film to be able to see what you shot instantly! I'm already planning on spending some of George Bush's $600 on lenses. Bob