Dome Photography

February 07, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

In my quest to photograph the State Capitols, I've captured my share of domes! As time goes on, I'm learning more about the techniques of "Dome Photography". Here are some things I've learned while taking pictures of interior domes:

  1. Position the camera as low to the floor as possible. The lower vantage point increases the amount of the dome that appears in the frame. I find that using the Live View feature on my Nikon D800 camera makes life a little easier.

  2. Position the camera directly under the center of the dome. This isn't as easy as it appears. I found that making slight adjustments to the tripod legs can make this process less frustrating. In some Capitols, it's impossible to get to the center of the floor as there might be a monument or gated state seal on that section of the floor. In other Capitols, you can move to a lower floor and shoot through the opening in the center of the main floor.

  3. The fisheye lens can be your friend while shooting domes. If anything, the fisheye lens makes the circles more circular so that very little distortion is evident. Most other lenses will not allow you to capture enough of the circle in the frame.

  4. Keep shooting while you have the opportunity. You never know when hundreds of grade school kids on a field trip will surround your camera and appear along the edges of the frame. Also, be on the lookout for all of the people who like to look over the railings to look at the crazy photography laying on the floor.

  5. Always shoot multiple frames. It's safer to bracket the exposures as the dynamic range is often greater than it first appears. I usually end up processing a high dynamic range (HDR) image when it comes to domes.

  6. I like to photograph the dome first before moving onto the other areas of the building. I find dome photography to be the most tedious part of shooting the interior of a Capitol building!

I probably have photographs of more than 100 domes so far. Here are just a few of them:

 

Capitol domeCapitol domeInterior dome of the Texas State Capitol building from the rotunda floor on 1100 Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas on January 5, 2014 Stained glass domeStained glass domeStained glass dome (designed by Pennsylvania native Alfred Godwin) in the Supreme Court Chamber in the Pennsylvania State Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on July 5, 2013. This photograph consists of five exposures blended together using HDR Efex Pro2 software to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image. Capitol dome interiorCapitol dome interiorWisconsin State Capitol building at 2 E Main Street in Madison, Wisconsin on February 12, 2013. This photograph consists of five exposures blended together using HDR Efex Pro2 soffware to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image. Oklahoma Capitol DomeOklahoma Capitol DomeOklahoma state capitol building dome in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on December 19, 2012 Indiana State Capitol Dome InteriorIndiana State Capitol Dome InteriorInterior of the dome of the Indiana Statehouse (Capitol) at 200 W. Washington Street in Indianapolis, Indiana on February 19, 2013. This photograph consists of three exposures blended together using HDR Efex Pro2 software to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image. Arkansas DomeArkansas DomeInner dome from the rotunda floor of the Arkansas State Capitol building at 500 Woodlane Drive in Little Rock, Arkansas on January 15, 2014. This photograph consists of five exposures blended together to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image. Senate domeSenate domeInterior dome in the Senate chamber of the Mississippi State Capitol building at 400 High Street in Jackson, Mississippi on January 13, 2014. This photograph consists of five exposures blended together to create a high dynamic range (HDR) image.

 


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