Tidal Basin and Thomas Jefferson Memorial – Washington DC Winter Sunset

Yesterday I had to go to Washington DC for a quick day trip and took the opportunity to shoot some timelapses.  I was looking for a sunset timelapse and found a great location on the Tidal Basin before we got there.  On my TPE app I saw the sun was going to set at an angle to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial which is one of my favorite buildings in the city.  This is an ideal spot since you don’t necessarily want the sun setting right behind a building since there will be a silhouette followed by shadows in the scene on the main subject.  (disclaimer: unless you are aiming for the sun moving through pillars which might be a cool effect).

Anyways, the sun was setting at 4:48 PM so I started shooting right at 4 PM with the sun a bit above the horizon.  See first image below.  I was shooting in Manual exposure at f/13 and ISO 400 and Auto White Balance.  My plan was to change the shutter speed during the sequence and keep everything else constant.  My timelapse intervalometer was set at 13 seconds since I usually end around 10-15 seconds of shutter speed at f/10 – f/13 and ISO 400.  My first shot below was taken at 1/500.  The scene was very well lit with the sun and reflection off the water.  The clouds were perfect for a sunset and dimmed the light a bit which also means they will reflect color a lot as the sun goes down!  You need to see the sun but also want some scatter from clouds!  Too many thick clouds and you’ll see no color.


The sun set right around 4:45 pm and the clouds were still perfect!  The Tidal Basin has a lot of helicopters and airplanes move through the area which is pretty cool.  I got lucky and captured a pair of helicopters right above the Thomas Jefferson Memorial as the sun was setting!


In the end, the clouds turned red and orange with some purple and blue in the sky.  The colors were reflecting off the water too!


My final image was taken at 10 second shutter speed at 5:35 pm (about 90 minutes of shooting) with 438 photos at 13 second intervals. I edited the photos with LRTimelapse and Adobe Lightroom.

dsc_5416Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have any comments or questions!


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