The U.S. Capitol like you’ve never seen it before

A 60 Minutes cameraman's stunning shots of the U.S. Capitol, a building we don't usually associate with beauty and reflection

CBS All Access
This video is available on CBS All Access

Yearning for something that rises above the dysfunctional politics of Washington? Take a look at these soaring shots of our nation's capitol. Filmed by 60 Minutes cameraman Chris Albert, this 2-minute video will make you forget all about the politicians who work in this building.

Albert shot this spectacular footage for a 60 Minutes report by Scott Pelley and producer Nicole Young on the Capitol Dome's 150th anniversary.

Young described her story as "the best history class I'd ever taken."

"Having worked in DC before, you take for granted the beauty and intricacy of our nation's Capitol," she said. "Chris' camerawork, I feel, will bring our viewers closer to the experience we had and will hopefully offer them a tour of the Capitol they've never seen before."

"I was trying to show the exquisite design of the Capitol architecture," Albert told 60 Minutes Overtime. "I suspect it gets lost in the day-to-day hubbub of the place."

He used a Canon C300 and 5D cameras for all of these shots.

"It's a challenge to try and give viewers in their living rooms the same effect that something grand like the Rotunda has on you when you enter that cavernous, ornate space," says Albert. "I ended up using an extremely wide full frame fish-eye lens and a dolly track. This does introduce a 'bending'-type distortion, which the human eye does not do, but it emphasizes your entry into the space."

Albert has worked as a cameraman for 20 years, 11 of those for CBS News. He says that filming in the U.S. Capitol is unusually difficult because of strict rules.

"They're very strict, even with cameramen like me who hold Capitol Hill media ID," says Albert. "Producer Nicole Young and associate producer Katie Kerbstat did an amazing job navigating the, shall we say, complex hierarchy at the Capitol to get permission not only to use tripods but also a dolly track and a 24' jib arm at one point. We were also given permission to shoot on Sunday, the only day when the building is nearly empty of tourists and congressional staff."

Without all the foot traffic and workday buzz in the building, Albert could simply stand still and point his camera up at the ceiling. "I found it interesting to get into the center of spaces like the Rotunda and the Crypt and look straight up," he says. "In the case of the Rotunda it became an amazing array of concentric circles. Looking straight up in the Crypt reminded me of a structure you'd see in nature at a microscopic level, like looking at an ice crystal in a microscope."

Music composed for 60 Minutes Overtime by Beach Street Music