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U.S. Capitol Building & Reflecting Pool in Early Spring Twilight

A close-up of "U.S. Capitol Building & Reflecting Pool in Early Spring Twilight" by Tim Lo Monaco: an ultra-high-resolution VAST photo.
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1,567 megapixels! A very high resolution, large-format VAST photo print of the U.S. Capitol Building in front of the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall; photograph created by Tim Lo Monaco on the United States Capitol Grounds, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Capitol Building & Reflecting Pool in Early Spring Twilight

Washington, D.C.

The United States Capitol Building, home of the United States Congress and legislative branch of the federal government. With its distinctive neoclassical style architecture, it was originally completed in 1800. It has been expanded over time with the Capitol Dome and completed in 1863 after being adorned by the Statue of Freedom that sits atop the dome. Arguably the most recognizable building in the United States, the U.S. Capitol Building attracts millions of visitors per year. The Capitol Reflecting Pool, six acres in size, was completed in 1971. At the eastern end of the National Mall, it occupies the area called Union Square, and includes the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial.

This VAST Photo was created by stitching 70 input images from my high-resolution camera. I took a single exposure for each of the sky-only images. The other input images are comprised of two bracketed exposures to capture details in both bright and dark areas. Each input-image with foreground (trees/Grant Statue) and background (Capitol Building) is also comprised of two focus-stacked images. The result allows for ultra-high resolution large format fine art photographic prints of the U.S. Capitol Building to view in detail at a close distance.

I’ve wanted to capture the U.S. Capitol Building from this direction (looking east) both at night and at sunrise with a perfect reflection in the Capitol Reflecting Pool for a long time. It’s proven to be quite a challenge. I’ve made many an early morning visit with the hopes to have the components I envisioned all come together and it has eluded me. Weather conditions aside, for years the Capitol has undergone restoration with scaffolding installed. It was during a window around a presidential inauguration wherein all scaffolding was removed that I was able to capture this photo. Finally came a morning with low forecasted winds, so I decided to start a day primarily dedicated to capturing photos of the Cherry Blossoms in peak bloom with a sunrise-shot at the Capitol. I arrived elated this calm morning at 4 AM to a see a still-reflecting pool and started my series of images to take a twilight photo and a sunrise photo after. Regrettably I didn’t start with the fickle reflection and by the time I made it to those series of images, the sun had almost finished rising, and geese were flapping around in the reflecting pool itself, so 0 for 2 that morning.

After extensively berating myself for underestimating the time it’d take and missing my chance at the still reflection, I continued my day. I took a series of images of the Cherry Blossoms with the failed Capitol Reflecting Pool photo in the back of mind. I knew I’d have to come back some other time, set up in the exact same spot and try my best to get the reflection images. I couldn’t give up this effort. I’d have to check the forecasts religiously to figure out when to go back and capture that reflection. It just so happened that the next night as I lay in bed about to go to sleep, I checked the weather app on my phone…no wind for the next hour or so before an upcoming storm. I literally jumped out of bed and told my wife that I HAD to do this and off I went. This time I made sure to start with the Capitol Dome reflection. It was trial and error because even with the still reflection (as calm as I’ve ever seen the Capitol Reflecting Pool), there was still movement because of the long exposures. Eventually I cranked up the ISO to shorten the exposure time and took a series of shots of the dome. After knowing I “got the dome”, I started my proper stitch series starting from the bottom of the reflection. The wind picked up, disturbing the water in the other reflection shots but I forged on. I figured I’d redo the entire series since the light was so different than day one. However, by the time I got to the building images, it was so windy that I couldn’t capture a single image without motion-blur, even with my solid tripod setup. It then proceeded to poor rain, so I called it a night.

I still went home feeling utterly redeemed that I captured a great reflection. I knew both that it was going to be a nightmare to process, and that somehow, I’d figure it out. Months later I was able to sit down and dedicate the embarrassing amount of time I needed to put this all together. Like my Union Station Main Hall image, focus-stacked images of architecture create parallax and therefore make it extremely cumbersome to “stitch” together. I often-times get caught up with the technical aspects to capture a challenging scene like this. Now that I’m finished, I can look back and enjoy the view that inspired me to put in the many hours to get this photo in the first place. Literally every time I go there, I’m in awe of the sheer size and grandeur of the U.S. Capitol Building. The reflecting pool is at its calmest at night and there are little-to-no people, providing a serene experience. It is a rare treat to see this grand building and its reflection with no wind and calm waters. I can only imagine the vision and collaborated efforts needed to realize the creation of this reverent monument.

Date & TimeMarch 30, 2021 - March 31, 2021:  4:12am - 4:55am, 9:02pm - 10:25pm
LocationWashington, D.C.
Coordinates38.889718, -77.014353
Focal Length200mm
Aperturef/4 - f/11
Shutter Speed1/80 sec - 15 sec
ISO250 - 25600
Number of Exposures70

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Print only

Our photographic prints are created using a specialty, large-format fine art printer designed to produce archival, museum-grade prints. They are true "chromogenic" prints: light-sensitive paper exposed in a darkroom using state-of-the-art lasers to produce the sharpest possible image. Click on the icons below to learn more or click here to explore further.

Our photographic prints are available in one of two finishes: glossy and lustre. Glossy prints have a rich, silky saturation and are great for environments where the lighting and reflections have been carefully thought through. Lustre prints have a bright, sparkle-like finish that diffuses reflections and are therefore more versatile for environments where the lighting and reflections are less under your control.

Your print comes with two certificates of authenticity hand-signed by the artist and the printmaker: one that you will affix to the finished piece and one that remains standalone. Additionally, your print's provenance is tracked and verified using state-of-the-art digital technology. Learn more.

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Acrylic glass display

Our acrylic glass displays are ready-to-hang works of art that contain one of our photographic prints sealed between flame-polished acrylic glass and an aluminum backing. A hidden mounting brace on the rear causes the display to gracefully "float" off the wall for a sleek, modern frameless look that complements nearly any decor style. Click on the icons below to learn more or click here to explore further.

Certificate of authenticity  
with artist signature
affixed to the back

Mounting brace floats the display
off the wall by 1 inch
Metal back
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Digital file

Purchase a rights-managed license to use this photo file. A license provides you with the full resolution digital image file and a permit to use it for a specific project. Use the form below to begin the licensing process or click here to learn more.

Total Pixels1,567,227,072
Horizontal Pixels57,712
Vertical Pixels27,156
Aspect Ratio2.13 : 1
File Size8,956 MB
Width @ 300ppi (perfect)16.03 feet
Height @ 300ppi7.54 feet
Width @ 150ppi (near-perfect)32.06 feet
Height @ 150ppi15.09 feet

Date & TimeMarch 30, 2021 - March 31, 2021:  4:12am - 4:55am, 9:02pm - 10:25pm
LocationWashington, D.C.
Coordinates38.889718, -77.014353
Focal Length200mm
Aperturef/4 - f/11
Shutter Speed1/80 sec - 15 sec
ISO250 - 25600
Number of Exposures70

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