Overlooking Washington, D.C.I’m overlooking Washington, D.C. from the dome of the Library of Congress with this shot. Not many people get up here. My Congressional Representative’s office worked it out for me, though. The timing was the tricky part. As a photographer, I would asked if we could schedule the visit at sunset. It turns out that the only way to get up here as an ordinary schmuck is if you’re accompanied by a member of Congress or the Chief of Staff for that member. Needless to say, that put an entirely different perspective on the time of the visit and we got up there in the afternoon sunlight.
No matter, I was still thrilled. The trip up to the dome is through a creepy old metal staircase. It has an incline more like a ladder than your typical staircase. In fact, they questioned me about my health before granting my request. Let’s face it, this is not the kind of place where they want to rescue someone who gets overcome by physical stress. You need to be healthy enough to make it up and back down under your own power. They do a good job of enforcing this rule, as I saw very few skeletons along the way.
Overlooking Washington, D.C. is both exhilarating and slightly disappointing. As you exit the dome and step out to the balcony surrounding it, you’re immediately presented with the view in this image just slightly to your right. You can walk around the dome and see all over the city. Then you take a picture of this view, because the rest of the town is pretty damn dull to see. Non-descript buildings, mostly brown, could be in any city.
That’s not to say I didn’t take photos of those ugly buildings, anyway. A few smokestacks here, some old brick buildings there, and office buildings on the other side. The President’s helicopter was flying off in the distance, too, right above some construction cranes.
This city is permanently under construction. I was dismayed to find that white plastic wrapped around the dome of the Capitol Building when I arrived in town. What are you going to do — decide not to shoot it and drive back home to Florida? Nonsense. I took my shots as I could get them and I’ll go back again when — I hope — the dome won’t be wrapped in plastic.
I took a number of shots of this view while I had the chance. Who knows if I’ll get back up there? This shot is at 70m focal length, if you’re curious about the perspective. I shot wider and tighter, too. The wider shots include a flagpole in front of the Capitol from this perspective, so I played with it in a few compositions. I keep coming back with this one, looking from Capitol Hill down the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. It was a very cool experience. I mean that literally, too. This was February and the wind was whipping pretty hard up there.
All I had to do to get access was ask nicely. You can’t beat that.