Most Bay area folks are familiar with Exploratorium, a museum of art and science in San Francisco. Favorite place to take your kid to if you don't want them to hate school chemistry, physics and math.
It is located in Palace of Fine Arts a magnificent building with central rotunda overlooking artificial lagoon where goergous building reflection can be enjoyed. Rich ornamentation symbolizing Greek culture with allegorical figures is a real treat for the eye. Building is majestic and just beautiful. However most of people who have been in Exploratorium have not seen it in its absolute glory - at night.
Anna and myself got there right before 6pm and it was around 30 minutes till sunset. Typical for that kind of affluent residential area finding street parking turned out to be not for the faint-hearted. Even though it was late Sunday afternoon we had to drive for 10 minutes to find a spot. Eventually we parked somehow illegally in front of one of mansions that looked like being renovated and not currently occupied.
We were there a way to early so we took a lazy stroll along the bank of a lagoon scouting for the best possible position for great photo. Right in front of rotunda there was an empty bench which we decided to claim ours. We were sitting on the bench tucked from toes to head as a protection against mosquitos and cold, sipping tea with rum to keep us warm. The sun was setting on a far horizon and the dim lights on lanterns turned on. Warming up they started to illuminate massive Palace's pillars. Our suffering and dedication were soon rewarded. Dusk rolled in pretty quick giving the sky this lovely rich dark ultramarine color, the lanterns glowed in orange-gold spilling the light to quiet surface of the lagoon. Real magic has started happening right in front of our eyes. Exploratorium has been transformed into this fairy tale building all litten up with wamth glow cutting from the deep and dark blue sky.
We have set our camera on tripod and hooked up our remote shutter release control. Being ready to capture five to six photos with different exposures ranging from few seconds to few minutes. Oh boy are are so old fashion, right? A remote hooked up on cable to camera? So 1970.
iPhone photographers snapping the photos while walking looked at us as an artifact from a previous century. Yes, most of them didn't even bother to stop by and appreciate the building no to mention prevent the photo blur…but what do I know. I guess few cool filters from one of recent trending photo app and some people will call those snaps an art.
There was also some more serious crowd with tripods and cameras that can be set to manual control. The looked at smartphoner with pitifull look. Unfortunatelly majority of them did not even bothered to read the camera's manuall and were happily shooting in a dark with proudly erected flashes. Some of them might even get back home with artsy photo of a mysterious red trail coming from red eye effect of a swimming nearby swans. Next to us was not so happy camper who showed after the dark without his camera set for a shoot and right from the start started fighting with his tripod, bag straps, camera and mosquitos. All in all we had a good dose of free entertainment while waiting for the right moment to capture our photo.
As the lagoon's waters get quieter startling image started to revealing to our eyes. A fountain of colors in splendid reflection painted by the light. We have to work fast as the sunlight was disappearing quickly leaving the whole scene in total darkness. Alltogether we shoot four different point of views with four different exposures each to stitch the final HDR. Level of details even in the shadows is just amazing. You can still see rich green color on grass blades. Final image is only 16MP large as we have made mistake with aligining tripod between the shoots.
iPhone users are prolly laughing now ;)