Two nights before New Year's Eve, I was at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., learning (but clearly not perfecting) the art of night photography.
I didn't see any real animals. If I were them, I would have stayed inside too. It was freezing out there. But a handful of us had signed up with PhotoTour DC to learn the basics and we braved the elements to wander through the ZooLights display. (Sorry, it ends today.)
We all had different levels of camera - mine being the least fancy. The minimum requirement was to have manual controls and a tripod.
In fooling with the shutter speed I discovered this is overexposed (too much blue-light bleeding):
This is a little less overexposed:
And this is just too darn cute not to throw in:
I didn't know the other people who signed up but we all examined each other's efforts and took tips from the instructor and got ideas from one another on what to shoot. The zoo lights have been a tourist attraction for years, drawing residents as well as Christmas visitors.
If you ever end up here as a traveler during the holiday season, make a note to wander through. It's free. And it's fun on your own. But if you want company and a different way to look at the lights, try Lynford Morton's class.
If you're interested in photo classes in general, either for the skills or the company while in D.C., you don't have to wait for next winter. Classes run all year long. They cover different D.C. neighborhoods, the monuments on and near the National Mall and the city of Annapolis on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.
I know I still have plenty of learning to do.
Photos: Ellen Perlman