Photographing the Capital Judicial Center #1

The Capital Judicial Center sits above downtown Augusta
The Capital Judicial Center sits above downtown Augusta

Susan: Beautiful September Saturday morning, early, walking out over the Kennebec on the pedestrian walkway of Augusta’s Memorial Bridge. The bridge isn’t vibrating nearly as scarily as it had during the scouting trips. There’s a barrier between us and the trucks whizzing by. I’ve explained to Sandy, the photographer, and Justin, her assistant, that we don’t have to use a ladder to shoot over the chainlink fence, and we don’t have to shoot through the holes. We can just shoot under the fence.

There’s a gap of about a foot between the fence and the bridge deck. Sandy has come prepared with a towel.

On my earlier scouting trips I had walked about halfway across the bridge to see how the new Capital Judicial Center sits above the downtown buildings. I was looking for the rhythm of the windows above the 19th-century brick buildings downtown, one block below, wanting to find the place where the new building, which is quite modern, showed itself as a relative of the old buildings. I thought I’d found it, but on Saturday I walked further and discovered that the red-roofed granite library building across the street from the courthouse was emerging as I walked west. The whole composition—courthouse, downtown, and library--lined up.  The sun was behind us, the river was calm.

Sandy: I chose a medium zoom lens for my Canon to get images that showed a good amount of the courthouse's context and enough of the river to take advantage of the lovely reflection. I expected we'd crop the final images so allowed some extra area for editing.  Most of the exposures were done at a focal length of 50mm. There was no need for a high ISO in the bright morning light so I set it at 100 and was able to shoot most images at 1/125 at f16 with a few at 1/250 at f11. Full depth of field was essential for this view.  Waiting for moments of no vibration from passing cars, and grounding my elbow on the concrete, I had no concern about camera shake.  Had this not been a quiet Saturday, a higher ISO and faster shutter speed would have been necessary to compensate for heavy traffic vibration.

Susan: Justin and I realized that we’d better stand up and look happy. This is a frequented pedestrian walkway, but the fence was put up to deter jumpers. We didn't want anyone driving by to call 911 about someone lying on the sidewalk with other people crouching nearly, so Justin and I smiled like tourists while Sandy stretched out on the sidewalk and took the shot.