Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Where's DC (to me)?

Fall makes me restless, very restless. A teasing, tapping, breeze saying, "no time to sit". I let my hair down, do a little dance, and bask in what the summer no longer holds in its sweaty little grasp. At least that was the experience of my youth growing up in a place of sharply delineated seasons. Today DC is my reality, so when September comes and the thermometer still reads "90" I get confused - actually, really confused. (I recently confirmed the effect with a high-school friend now living in Virginia Beach.)

A direct result of my confused state, two nights ago I didn't fall asleep until well after 3am. During the night I began retracing my steps, asking myself how I ended up here and what I had left to see in this very oddly shaped city. Trying to recount my earliest memories from pre-k and asking myself what the meaning of this photographic life I'm trying to create is, a real late night jumble of thoughts to be sure which almost had me biking down to the Mall to watch the sun come up.

When the day finally arrived I grabbed my camera and wandered down to the mall, to search, perhaps, for some evidence of the fall, or at the very least to break out of the house, get away from the computer and make use of a beautiful (albeit warm) day.

I settled on the idea of blocking familiar, idealized views of the capital. ("Hey! It looks just like Where's Waldo", exclaimed Maria.) The idea opened a world of new possibilities. Everything was in play - fire hydrants, tour buses, and parking meters. My inspiration: a friend's suggestion to photography her kid on the mall looming over the Washington Monument. My dis-inspiration (is that a bit like saying ir-regardless??): stock DC images, Jeffer-sun-set, White (fluffy clouds) House, and other idealized riffs(-raff).

Here are my favorites: (See if you can find the Capital building in each of these images!)

More here:

.. and in case anyone is wondering. For these pics I got out my old Nikon AI 28mm manual focus lens (I find that manual, and especially fixed lenses allow/force me to think and move, resulting in better photos. The 28mm being one of my favorite when attached to my old F3, a bit less so with the digital zoom factor when attache to the D300, but still wider than normal) and a polarizing filter to darken the sky (also allowed for wider f-stops and freedom to play with DOF), and on some a bit of fill flash (just from the camera's pop up). I've been spending too much time in front of the computer playing with Photoshop and the like, so here I'm shooting and showing -just a bit of a vignette added to draw the eye into the center of the frame.

I think I may still add to the set - Maybe with a telephoto, maybe some other monuments with some day break mauve or an orange dusk.

.. oh and this from the botanical garden, because I just like the name and that it's from Brazil

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fashion of Goodwill

I'm just realizing - not a lot of blogging for the last few weeks (apologies to my faithful fan base - wink, wink.). That's all fine and good, because I've been substantially busy with some actual picture taking, so, while blogging is fun, I would much rather be taking photos. The best part of all this picture taking? Some of it is actually paying! - still waiting for the check to be true - but, in theory, a real paying gig. Maybe even more exciting, the images may actually be published. For now we'll just say I'm theoretically published with a promise to keep you all (wink, wink) posted.

On Thursday night I attended a really fabulous event, the Fashion of Goodwill fundraiser held at the French embassy (Thank you Brendan and Em for the press pass!). You can read more about the event in this Washington Post article, and read what other people are writing here and here.

For such a fabulous occasion, I thought it more than appropriate to rent a really fabulous lens, the Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR - hot dog! (rent yours here for just $30/day, but be sure to reserve ahead of time). As photographers there are often times when we forced to admit that the right high-end gear will not improve our picture taking ability. This is not one of those times. Even though I already own a perfectly good 70-210, sharp and lovely for studio sessions - slow and dumb in low light, I could not have taken these runway shots without this fast VR lens. Granted the 2.8 VR is about the size of my forearm, and by the end of the runway show, my back was tired and a bit cranky. However, the lens performed flawlessly. Even when I turned the lens into the lights for that rock-n-roll wedding dress effect the lens was only occasionally fooled. Basically, if I missed a shot with this baby it was, in all likely hood, my own darn fault. Here are a few of the ones pointed directly into the light - love the view. FYI, these pics were shot in RAW but are pretty much right out of the box as they say.

More photos from the evening including more straight on runway shots can be viewed at my flickr site here.