In the Depths of Union Station

Metro Walls

I love the tube, the metro, the subway, the L…public transit is the way I like to get places. With the exception of Hawaii, I generally hate to drive in unknown places. Public transit lets me see people going about their daily lives, how they get places in a way no other transportation can. I am also fascinated by the honeycomb-like walls of the D.C. Metro system. I often wonder if this was an aesthetic choice, of one that provides stability to the tunnels. Anyone know?

Photo Technical Info

The Supreme Court of the United States of America

Getting Run Off

I had just been run off from using my tripod at the US Capitol (I still took an good photo of the Back of the Capitol). I wandered around to the front of the US Capitol and crossed the street to The Supreme Court of the United States of America! There is a sidewalk out front and I know my rights! The guard seemed mostly uninterested, he even came over to chat a bit, but left me alone since my tripod was firmly on a public sidewalk! I was upset at the construction, but then I realized I have a unique slice in time that perhaps no one else had. I like that thought!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 28 May, 2012
  • Focal length: 26mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Location: 38° 53.4358′ 0″ N 77° 0.352′ 0″ W
  • Shutter speed: 1/250s
  • Title: The Supreme Court of the United States of America

Overlooking Congress


I was looking back through photos this weekend and came across this one. I have a collection in Lightroom called “Needs More Work” and this photo from the Lincoln Memorial has been sitting there for some time. I have always been unhappy with the color in the original image. It was always a bit lifeless, but I immediately knew what needed to happen this week. I think it has been waiting patiently, but the shutdown finally made it clear to me.

I don’t often talk about the why of my images…I will be vague here, but here are some thoughts. This photo is shot from the side of the Lincoln Memorial. The reflecting pool is drained and work is being done to repair it from a freak earthquake. Lincoln has a wonderful view and looks to the statue of another man who had to fight to keep his country. Both overlook the Congress of the United States. which is slightly out of focus.

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Abraham Lincoln
1st Inaugural Address
March 4, 1861

Smithsonian Castle at Sunset

Low Light

The thing I always have trouble remembering his how gorgeous light becomes the lower it is in the sky. I say I have a hard time remembering because outside of places like Iceland, you have such a very short window of nice light. The quality changes so much, so rapidly it is often difficult to keep up on one subject, much less when you are someplace like the National Mall. With such a grand set of options, it’s difficult to decide what you are going to photograph at that perfect moment. This shot was while I was walking to the Lincoln Memorial for sunset. The sun was still strong in the sky, but you can easily tell the quality of light has started to change here for the better.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden


When I visited the grounds of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., it was early morning and the museum wasn’t open. I have not have an opportunity to visit this museums collection, which is unfortunate because I really enjoy contemporary and modern art. I did get to visit the open courtyard which immediately made me think of ancient Rome and the Colosseum.

The outside looks like some sort of alien vessel landed in the National Mall. It’s an odd mix that makes me think about the architect’s intent. Artist’s intent is a topic that has been on my mind lately. I am traveling to Barcelona soon and I can hardly wait to see first hand many of the seminal works of Antoni Gaudi. What are these designers trying to bring into the world…it truly fascinates me.

Morning at the Capitol

Something Big

2013 is going to be a big year! Last week I returned from my first trip to Europe in 2013. The first of several international trips I have planned this year to photograph new places for this blog. I visited Geneva, Switzerland for two wonderful days. Next month I am all set for Barcelona, Spain. Some people in my life think this is interesting, others think it’s fun, while others believe me to be completely crazy. Regardless of outside opinions, it is something that I can’t keep from doing any longer.


When I got to Switzerland it was cold, grey with rain and snow and the bus website said my bus didn’t start running until 2pm Sunday. I woke up at 8am the first day (no need to get up early for sunrise) and sat in my hotel room feeling completely defeated. I was only there for two days and the weather stunk. For all the preparation, travel time expense and excitement, I sat there and knew I had failed. The only thing was I hadn’t failed at all. I was still in my hotel room. The failure existed entirely in my mind but threatened to poison the whole trip! I told myself I had come halfway around the world to photograph Geneva and I was damned well going to do it! In the end I had a fantastic time. A cold, wet and fantastic time. And the number 5 bus WAS running just on a limited schedule.

Inner Voices

Chris Guillebeau recently wrote on his blog, “Sometimes you just need to pay attention to the discontent and see where it leads.” I have been feeling that discontent for a long time now, but I have been ignoring it. Even when I listen I often put off things or announce defeat before I have even started. I allow resistance to beat down my true self. 2013 is going to be a big year, because I can no longer not take action. I have to listen to this thing, whatever it is, inside me that keeps saying, Travel and Photograph. It’s wasn’t perfect in Geneva, but it never will be, and wonderful things happen when you simply try. Have you been putting something off, or announcing something a failure because the conditions weren’t perfect? I would really like to know.

Today’s photo is of the United States Capitol Building in Washington DC, USA.

Smithsonian Castle

America’s Castle

There is a certain something about The Smithsonian Castle that never fails to impress me. Its not the biggest for most luxurious castle I have ever visited. In fact, it tends to be a bit plain inside. If you happen by, this view is of the gardens behind The Castle, it is by far the most picturesque. The Castle serves as the visitors center for the Smithsonian Institution, and houses several exhibits. Still there is something about it that lures me in every time I venture past. Maybe it’s because I think of it as America’s Castle, sure there are grander palaces in the world, but this one is ours.

The Apotheosis of Washington

All Hail, god Washington?

There are a disproportionate number of odd things in Washington D.C. Just the crisscrossing and frequently round-abouting streets can leave new visitors disorientated, but I was struck most on this trip by a piece of artwork I was already familiar with; The Apotheosis of Washington. The idea of an apotheosis is not exactly commonplace in the U.S. collective conscious, but right there in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda is George Washington, painted in the fresco, becoming a god. He is flanked by many of his new Roman peers (Mercury, Vulcan, Minerva, etc) and the whole scene leads me to wonder what in the world Constantino Brumidi (the painter) was thinking? It was undoubtedly intended as allegory, but really…what the heck?


Despite the strange symbolism emblazoned on one of our most significant Federal Buildings, I can’t recommend the Capitol tour enough. You are very tightly controlled as to what you can see, but it is awesome to be in the very halls where so much of our history has been forged. If you are in D.C., plan on a few hours to see General Washington become a god.

The Future is Dupont Circle

Pushing More

On Monday I talked about about limits and pushing myself as well as my photographs. Today is a continuation of that theme. I really liked this composition in the Metro by Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. The problem was it processed very poorly in my normal HDR software. I generally use HDRSoft’s Photomatix 4, but the image didn’t look or feel right. Since I am trying to push myself this week I decided to use a piece of software that I almost never use, Nik’s HDR Efex Pro. Perhaps I should give it a second chance more often because the processing came out GREAT!

Soylent Green is People!

I always think the D.C. Metro looks like something out of an 1970’s Sci-Fi movie staring the incomparable Charlton Heston. Given that visual as a starting point, I decided to push my processing both in terms of colorization as well as very heavy grain.

Warning! Only watch this video of you have seen Soylent Green and know the ending OR never plan on watching this most awesome film!

Futuristic Transport

Art as Function

There two things I absolutely love in this world…art (this needs less explanation) and moving sidewalks (this probably needs slightly more justification). Let’s start with the latter. Perhaps it’s the kid in me who had The Flash underoos, but I love the idea of effortlessly traveling at faster than human speeds. I get a great joy out of walking down a moving sidewalk, because, if only for a short moment I have a superpower!

Art as Form

Art is much easier…for those of us who are called to create, there is perhaps no greater comfort in the world to be surrounded by the labors of those creators who came before us. They saw the world differently, the didn’t simply shrug and go on about their day, rather they were driven by the need to express what they believed to be intrinsic. Perhaps we can only achieve crude renderings of what we see, believe or feel, but these artists did; there was no option not to do, and in doing so brought the world something new. The greatest achievements of humanity are found in creativity, perhaps in no purer form then in art and literature. The walkway tunnel in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. brings both form and function together in one display.