Digital Outback Photo
- Photography using Digital SLRs

"Hoover Dam"

<c>Jeff Cohen
OK, so you've seen better pictures of Hoover Dam than the one above. I had to accept whatever light was available for the few minutes I was allowed at that particular vantage point. And I'll spare you the "Dam" jokes. Go see the Beavis and Butthead movie for the definitive collection (or so I've heard). But I'll mention in passing that the cafeteria there does offer a Dam Dog. Honest.
But unless you have taken the one hour "hard hat" tour, you probably haven't seen the sights below.
And "below" is the word. We're right beneath the generators and above the turbines which drive them. All that spinning machinery made ear plugs a neccessity (included with the tour along with plastic hard hats, which you get to keep).
A word about the available light. It's not incandescent, it's not fluorescent, and there isn't much of it. While the last was self-evident, and forced to me use longer exposure times than I'd like, even with the lens wide open at f/2.8, I didn't notice the out-of-whack white balance until after I took a few pictures (the above included). The problem here was the pace of the tour. It left little time for reviewing pictures and no chance to retake the botched ones. Anyway, setting the white balance to automatic actually worked, and the hideous overwhelming greenish cast of the above picture was corrected in QImage.
Speaking of generators, here they are.
This is a tunnel inside the dam itself. It leads to the face of the dam. Head room isn't generous. And don't look down that grating there if you're afraid of heights. The guy looking at me is our tour guide, whose main job appears to be making sure people like me get a move on when we'd rather be taking more pictures right where we already are. This picture was taken with the flash.
And here's the view at the end of the tunnel. Naturally, there's a grating in place to prevent you from commiting suicide.
And that's it for indoor photography. Now back to the outdoor photography this e-magazine is about. This is the Arizona pair of intake towers, where water to drive the turbines comes from. There is another pair on the Nevada side of the dam. You guessed it. The border between Nevada and Arizona goes right down the middle of Hoover Dam. Not only that, the border also marks the boundary between the Pacific and Mountain time zones. You have to adjust your watch ahead or back one hour as you walk across the dam.
Looking down the middle of the dam. The hard hat tour ends near here. After leaving that tunnel, you take an elevator to the top of the dam.
And finally, the visitor's center. If you've been here yourself and it doesn't look familiar to you, that's because it was built about five years ago. The hard hat tour starts here, with an elevator ride that drops you nearly a thousand feet.

Technical Details

Nikon D1 with Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8 AF-S. Nikon circular polarizer used for outdoor shots. SB-28DX flash used for some indoor shots. NEF format converted with QImage 11.03. Curves adjustment and sharpening done with Adobe Photoshop.


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