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“Clearing of the Nave!” A Special Access at Washington National Cathedral!

Photograph the interior of the National Cathedral, with all of the 3,000 chairs removed from the Nave

Quick Details


Here is another special opportunity: For a brief period of time, the Washington National Cathedral is once again removing all of the chairs from its Nave (just the center section, not the side aisles). It will be a beautiful and rare chance to explore the Cathedral and to capture some pretty special photographs.

Washington Photo Safari has just 7 spaces available for this event on Wednesday morning, February 12, 2020, to create a special photo safari at the Cathedral from 8:30 am to 10:30 am. This will give us 90 minutes of photographic access before the building is open to the public, plus another 30 minutes to explore other areas of the Church and the exterior as well. First come, first served. Tripods are allowed and encouraged.

We will begin the safari with a brief orientation by professional architectural photographer E, David Luria on interior church photography: lighting, composition, how to photograph the Nave and the stained glass windows, how to set white balance and exposure, operating on manual mode. Under Mr. Luria’s guidance, our group will move to all sections of the Nave, capturing the unique images only available when the center seats are removed. With the sun in the right position, we will also be able to capture unique pictures as early winter light from the stained glass windows falls on the walls, floors and statuary.

Our safari will also take us into the adjoining Bishops Garden and out to Wisconsin Avenue to capture external views of the Cathedral, with pointers given by Mr. Luria on how to make photographs of church exteriors architecturally correct, a useful skill to have when traveling abroad.

Equipment suggested: any camera will do but for best results, we suggest cameras with adjustable F-stops, shutter speeds, and Manual mode, plus interchangeable lenses, wide, medium and long. Photographers with DX format cameras will find that 11-16, 12-24, or 10-20 mm lenses will be great for the interior and exterior shots, and long lenses (200 mm plus) for tight close-ups of stained glass windows detail. FX camera users should consider lenses with a range of 16-24 mm on the wide side, 300 mm on the long side. No flash. Tripods recommended and allowed.

Washington National Cathedral, the sixth largest cathedral in the world, is one of the most beautiful venues and attractions in the DC area. Supported entirely by private donations, construction began in 1907 and was not completed until 1990. Built on a hill with 150,000 tons of Indiana limestone, the Cathedral towers soar 301 feet above the ground, the highest point in Washington DC. Its stained glass windows are nothing short of spectacular, a feast for the eye and the camera! In the morning light, the sun pours through the stained glass windows and projects their colors onto the gray columns and the floor of the Cathedral.

Your fee includes a donation to the Cathedral.

Photo Credit: E. David Luria