The Mission Inn – Riverside California – Part II
How to get this type of shot
This shot was made with the camera on a tripod pointed directly upwards into the rotunda. In order to get this shot in one exposure, I had to wait until the lights of the staircase matched the light of the sky, which meant shooting around 30 minutes after sunset. If this same shot would have been taken 30 minutes earlier, the sky would have been totally blown out and would have required a multiple shot composite to capture the dynamic range of the stair case and sky. If shot 30 minutes later, the sky would have been too dark with no details.
To achieve maximum depth-of-field I used an aperture of f/16 and to capture as much of the scene as possible I chose a focal length of 17mm. This resulted in a 15s exposure that caused the passing clouds overhead to streak and add an additional interest item. Using f/16 also allowed the lights in the stair case to form brilliant 14-point starbursts.
The most challenging part of getting this shot was composition. Since I had the camera pointed directly upwards, I did not have a good way of looking through the viewfinder nor had a direct view of the LCD on the back of the camera. I tried my best to get on the ground to get the general framing I wanted then made multiple exposures with slight camera movements until I got one that I liked.
The second shot was composed so that the bougainvillea would frame the tables which in turn lead the eye into the frame. The bougainvillea was also used to layer the image along with the right hand terrace to add depth to the image. I used an aperture of f/8 since I was not concerned with getting the foreground branches in focus. I had to take multiple exposures since it was windy and I was using a slow enough shutter speed for the foreground branches to cause motion blur. After viewing the photos on my laptop, I could immediately discern bokeh from motion blur, with the latter resulting in a not so pleasant effect.