Des Moines Cityscape

November 20, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

While in Des Moines, I captured a variety of cityscapes from various locations. One of my favorite vantage points is from the University Avenue bridge:

Des MoinesDes MoinesDowntown Des Moines and the Des Moines River from the University Avenue bridge in Des Moines, Iowa on July 16, 2016 Capturing a picture like this required planning--particularly since I had never been to this area of Des Moines before. Here are some things that went into creating this picture:

  • This picture was taken just after sunrise. Sunrise on July 16th is at 5:55 AM. So, I arrived at the location by 5:30 AM. To do this, I stayed at a nearby hotel. It was just a five minute drive from the hotel to the University Avenue bridge.
  • I scouted this location the day before. So, I knew how to get to the location quickly, where to park, and where to set up on the bridge.
  • Once I was set up, I had to time my exposure to take place when the bridge was still. Fortunately, traffic was light this early in the morning. When cars cross the bridge, enough vibration is created that it almost always ruined the shot.
  • Another unusual challenge was that there were thousands of tiny birds flying in front of my camera. They were coming from underneath the University Avenue bridge and would swarm up into the frame--ruining the shot. So, not only did I have to time my exposures for a vibration-free bridge, but I also had to wait until the frame was mostly clear of birds. I was not able to get any pictures without any birds, so some had to be removed in Photoshop.
  • Another consideration was timing the picture to minimize the traffic on the bridge included in the frame.
  • This final image is a blend of a few exposures. The sky had a bit more color in it early on--so one exposure captured that. The buildings looked best when the sun first hit the horizon--so a second exposure captured that. And, the trees along the river lit up last. So, a third exposure brought those trees more into play.

So, a lot more goes into the seemingly simple shot than first meets the eye!


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