Picture Ohio! – Ohio Statehouse, Columbus

Ohio Statehouse, Columbus
Ohio Statehouse, Columbus

Location: In Capitol Square, 77 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Tel: (614)-752-9777

Website: http://www.statehouse.state.oh.us/

GPS Coordinates: 39.961418N 82.999061W

Looking for an architectural photography challenge? Want to practice your High Dynamic Range (HDR) skills? Check out the Ohio Statehouse next time you’re visiting downtown Columbus.

The cornerstone for the Ohio Capitol in Columbus was laid on July 4, 1839, and after twenty-two years of construction the huge, rectangular Ohio Statehouse, built from locally quarried limestone, was completed in 1861. The most distinctive feature of this massive Greek Revival structure, 184 feet wide and 304 feet long, is the circular Rotunda that towers 120 feet over the floor of the building. Each side of the statehouse features a recessed porch with Doric columns.

Although the statehouse occupies most of Capitol Square, it isn’t as tall as many of the Columbus skyscrapers that surround it, and most views of the building from street level will have one or more tall buildings in the background. The exception is the view from the northeast, which allows you to frame the rotunda with sky in the background, as shown in the photo above. A blue sky makes an attractive background, and morning light is my preference for this view.

Interior of Rotunda, Ohio Statehouse, Columbus

Interior of Rotunda, Ohio Statehouse, Columbus

By all means take photographs of the exterior of the statehouse, but it is the interior, especially the Rotunda, that I find to be the most interesting subject for photography. You will need a very wide-angle lens, at least 24mm (FX) or 16mm (DX) to encompass the entire dome from the floor, which is made up of nearly 5000 pieces of marble, all laid by hand. Because of the extreme tonal range between the glass at the top of the Rotunda  and the arches at its base, you will need to take multiple exposures and combine them in some way to obtain detail in highlights and shadows. For the photo shown above, shot at f/16 with my Sony Alpha 850 and a 16-35mm lens, set at 16mm, I bracketed the metered exposure with additional exposures of -2 and +2, adjusting the shutter speed to keep the f/stop constant.  Back at home, I used Photomatix Pro HDR software to combine the three exposures, tone mapped the result using the Details Enhancer option, then fine-tuned the tone mapped image using Photoshop CS5.

Staircase, Ohio Capitol, Columbus
Staircase, Ohio Statehouse, Columbus

Surrounding the Rotunda are several staircases which are also very photogenic. The  staircase photograph shown above was exposed and processed using the same approach I used for the Rotunda image. A cropped version of this photograph is included in Browntrout’s 2011 Ohio Places calendar.

Self-guided tour brochures and audio tour wands with pre-recorded information on the building are available at the Statehouse Museum Shop. The Ohio Statehouse is open from 7:00 am through 6:00 pm Monday to Friday, and 11:00 am through 5: 00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Security is strict and you and your camera gear will be screened when you enter the building, but I have not encountered any restrictions on using a tripod during my several visits.  Visit at the weekend if you want to avoid tour groups and politicos.

Whatever your political leanings, the Ohio Statehouse interior is a great place to expand your knowledge of Ohio history as well as practice your photography skills.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Love the images. Fantastic work. I am going to make this a stop on our next trip to southern ohio

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