Capitol Reflecting Pool

This photo was one of the last taken on this night.  I had driven into Washington, D.C. with my husband to do a quick photo run around some of my favorite monuments (I’ve posted several photos from the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Memorial in this blog in the past month, if you are interested).  This was in late June of this year.  We had left that area of the mall and were headed slowly back to the freeway when we stopped in the parking area for the Capitol Building.  The building itself was lit up very beautifully, and I took a few photos of that which may eventually get published, but this anonymous building to the side of the vast reflecting pool was the thing that caught my eye.  I’m not sure if I noticed the array of colors in the lights outside (brought out dramatically by Topaz Adjust in the finishing process), but I loved the reflections in the water.  A few quick photos and we were off.  I didn’t think about this photo again until the past few days, when I began to work on it to create the finished product seen above.

To begin, I created a 3 exposure HDR with Photomatix, which brought out some of the details.  As often happens with HDR software, though, there were some glaring problems.  Water reflections, in particular, seem problematic to me because the computer program can’t handle all the water movement, so there are always ghosting issues.  I also had some very annoying light casts in the sky over the building, from the longest exposure taken.  So, into Photoshop we went.  I did things a bit differently here- eventually creating 2 different versions of the image in Topaz Adjust, with different filters, to bring out water smoothness and color in one and building detail in another.  These were brought together with masking.  Then I added the darker original image to mask in as the sky.  Then I used the middle original image, played with in Topaz Adjust to get the same water features as the HDR, and masked in parts of that to clean up the water problems.  I finished with a trip through Noiseware Professional (also masked slightly in parts to remove “over-smoothed” areas) and some final color tweaks in Lightroom.  Overall this was a great, fun photo to work on, and I’m glad it came together finally!

I would love to know which building this is- if you know, please tell me!  I’d be willing to work out a deal for you- perhaps a free 8×12 print for the first person to inform me?

This photo, along with all my finished photos from Washington, D.C., is located at my website,  From there you can see my entire body of work.  Enjoy it and let me know what you like there, as I am going to be cleaning up and moving around some of the photos in the next few weeks.  I am also sending this photo to, and it should be posted there soon.

Enjoy my images, as always.

About Kelley B.

I am a Durango, CO photographer who specializes in portraiture and wedding photography. My business is Kelley Bard Photography. You can find me around town, gardening, or on my website at View all posts by Kelley B.

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