I was recently at a Photographic Society of Chattanooga meeting when the speaker displayed an image so familiar to me, I almost thought is was one of mine. But, then I realized it was better than my version.
I don’t feel bad about this–the subject was the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown Atlanta. It may be one of the more striking architectural features in Atlanta (from the inside), but it’s also quite a challenge to shoot. Plus, the day I got to shoot inside the Marriott Marquis, I had owned my PowerShot G3 for about 2 weeks and knew about as much about photography as my elderly aunt (who couldn’t figure out how to use a camera with only one button).
I was in Atlanta for work at the time. There was a huge tradeshow there and I was playing “booth babe.” This is a joke because I worked in the telecom industry at the time and it was considered bad form to have anyone in any booth looking anything other than geeky. I got to don a men’s button-down shirt that would have fit great if I were shaped like a large block and was long-waisted and short-legged.
But, I digress.
Just by good fortune, I was staying at the Marriott Marquis. I had no idea at the time that it was going to be a photographic opportunity. I brought my brand new, fancy point-and-shoot camera purely because I was so excited about having what was then by far the nicest camera (digital or film) I’d ever owned that I brought it along purely out of the desire to learn how to use it.
The problem with the Marquis is the difficulty of getting what you want in the frame without getting what you don’t want. For example, you cannot get the entire stunning view of the balconies into the frame. My focal length was 7mm for these shots. I don’t know of an SLR lens that will go that wide unless it’s a fisheye. Additionally, it’s a hotel with lots of people milling about doing what they want without concern for your shot–they’re there day and night. A long exposure on a tripod might have done the trick for removing some people, but there are always people standing on the balconies gazing down and up and taking in the incredible structure.
Another problem is the lighting. Higher up, the balconies get quite dark. It’s difficult to get a balanced exposure that shows both the lower and upper balconies.
As someone who was: there for business, without a tripod, in a hurry, and using a point-and-shoot I barely knew how to use, I think I walked away with some surprisingly good shots. Of course, I cannot look at them now without thinking about how much better I could do today. Atlanta is only a 2 hour drive–maybe I’ll have to actually go test myself one of these days.