Cathedral

I was working near D.C. yesterday and happen to have my gear with me. I got off about mid afternoon and drove into the city with the intention of paying my respects to Nelson Mandela at the South African Embassy (a post on that later). After doing so, I thought I would maybe hit a neighborhood for a few shots and go home. The only problem was that the sun was going down and I would not have time to figure out which area I would shoot, much less driving there, parking, and the rest. After thinking about it, I decide to just go home. On the way, I happen to drive past the Washington National Cathedral. At the time (about 3:30 pm) I could see that the sun was setting on the front of the building giving it this beautiful golden glow. This is what photographers refer to as the “Golden Hour”. It’s the time in early morning or late afternoon when the sunlight is a bit softer and you get that yellow or red tone to an image and not the harsh bright light of the mid day sun.

Parking in this area is notoriously bad and I wasn’t willing to pay the ten bucks for parking in the cathedral garage, so I drove around the neighborhood looking for a spot. Time was ticking, and I was afraid that if I got a spot too far away, the sun would be gone by the time I got to the cathedral. Fortunately I snagged a good (albeit tight) space about a half a block from where I wanted to be. When I got to the church I just started clicking away.  I should also mention that at this point I had my 50 my camera and in a perfect world I would have a wide angle zoom instead, but all this means is that I would have to work a bit harder to get the shots I wanted. I furiously worked my way around the building knowing that I was losing daylight, all the while stopping to take in the awe of this gothic masterpiece. All in all I had a lot of fun despite the pressure I put on myself to get my shots right.

On a side note, in 2011 we had an earthquake hear on the east coast that as many of you know damaged some major landmarks here in D.C. The Washington National Cathedral was one that suffered some of that damage. For those of you who would like to learn about that damage and maybe donate if possible, the link for this is HERE. I don’t usually ask for such things on this site, but it would be nice to see this beautiful old church restored to her former glory.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/640 @ f/8

Cities in Dust

I took this photo of an angel that is part of a large fountain in front of Union Station in D.C. The thing that struck me as odd about the fountain was the fact that not only was it bone dry, but it was also filled with trash like old bicycles and just general garbage. The rest was in some serious disrepair. I certainly hope they revive this very old structure as I feel that it is just as important as the interior of the station that they seem to be forever trying to fix.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/450 @ f/8

Where The Vultures Are

Here on the east coast winter has come early, and as a photographer, venturing outside with my camera has become more and more limiting. As a consequence, I have resorted to carrying my camera out while on errands such as getting gas, going to the store, etc. This way, if something along the way strikes my fancy, I can just hop out the car and get a few photos, and continue on my merry way. Yesterday while on my way back home from the grocery store I spotted a large group of vultures roosting in a grove of trees that sat high up on a hill in the small village of New Market, MD. Since I only had a 50 on my camera it limited me on range as the hill on which they sat was fairly high and because they were on private property, I couldn’t just go waltzing in and start shooting. This relegated me to standing on the street and try to figure out a way to get a decent shot. It’s all about perspective you know. At first things weren’t working out so well for me, but then I thought I would try and and sneak around the back side of the trees which is on public property. I hiked down busy main street climbed an even bigger hill and proceeded to work my way through the woods to the other side of the trees the the vultures were roosting on. Before I got halfway through the woods I felt a sharp zap on my hands as if I had been mildly tazed. I looked down and saw this thin wire that stretched as far as the eyes could see and realized that I had just walked into an electric fence. Nice. This really pissed me off.

Instead of giving in, the anger inside me helped me focus my determination on how to correct this situation. This meant going home and getting a bigger lens. So I did. When I got back to the location, fortunately the vultures where still there. This time I was able to shoot with ease and get the shots I wanted. Now I know that all of this seems a bit crazy and maybe I should have cut my loses and moved on, but for me sometimes photography can be nothing more than catching life in a moment when no one else is looking or even paying attention and exposing it so that others know that while we are busy running errands or rushing to go nowhere, there are other forms of life that sit and wait high above us looking down and wondering what the fuss is all about.

Canon 5D markII, EF 70-200 4 L IS, ISO 320, 1/100 @ f/8

Frosty the Snowman and The Grinch walk into a bar….stop me if you’ve heard this one before

Yesterday of course was “Black Friday” and I for one refuse to partake in any of that madness. I did however, have a craving for a toasted salt bagel with cream cheese and a hot cup of coffee. This meant driving to downtown Frederick and going to our favorite bagel shop to get one. Afterwards Sheila and I were heading back to the car when she spotted a shop that she wanted to check out. Since the “Black Friday” crowds were in full force, We agreed to part ways. She would browse the shop in question while I and my camera walked the streets of downtown Frederick to capture the holiday melee in the streets. About halfway through my walk I saw these two waving at people as they bounced up and down Market street. Did it make me feel festive? Not really, but they did put a smile on my face.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 100, 1/160 @ f/5.6

Disintegrate

Canon 5D markII, ISO 1250, 1/250 @ f/8

Forward

A few months ago Sheila and I were driving way out in the country when I spotted a field of sunflowers. I quickly pulled over to the side of the road, grabbed my camera, and proceeded to get a few shots. As I began shooting, two things jumped out at me about this situation. One: even though the flowers where blooming, they were only about three feet tall, which for sunflowers I had never seen before because most of the ones that I had seen were taller than me. Two: all of the flowers were facing the opposite direction. This was a bummer because I was standing in front of this field of flowers and since it was private property, I did not want to wade into this field and risk maybe damaging a few without permission first. I walked the length of the field (which was about 50 yards wide) and was about to give up and take pictures anyway when I noticed this one flower just looking dead at me. I got the shot I wanted and as I walked back to the car I could not help but think that it was nice to see something that despite the fact that all of it’s kind was going in one direction, this flower whether on purpose or not, went it’s own way and stood out because of it.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/8000 @ f/2

Dark Side

As of late I have been playing with my speedlites to gear myself up for some portraits I am about to do so naturally my dog Sia is a great stand in to help me with such tasks. There is no model release to worry about and as far as posing is concerned, a simple “Squirrel?”, “Frisbee?”, or “Where’s mama?” usually gets me the look I want.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 70-200 4 L IS, ISO 200, 1/125 @ f/8

C&O Cushwa Basin

This is the Cushwa Basin part of the C&O canal. It is in Williamsport, MD and I stumbled upon it by accident during my “Big Pool” adventure. This shot is one of those “Happy accidents”. I was on my way back to the car when I glanced to my right and saw this. Needless to saw my jaw just dropped. Many photographers will talk about The “Golden hour” which is the light one gets to shoot in during sunrise or just at sunset. This was shot at sunset. Over the years I have learned that the “Golden hour” isn’t always so golden. Depending on the color temperature of the sun, it can range from yellow to a burnt orange or even red. This scene was lit closer to the burnt orange which happens to be my particular favorite. Not only that, but the sun was just where I wanted for this shot. This is the time of day when the sun moves so fast that standing there gobsmacked for even a few minutes would have cost me the shot I wanted, so I quickly dropped to my knees, composed the shot and took it. The way I see it, there wasn’t really any time to even set my tripod up. Even though landscape photography is about detail, it is also about composition. Having said that, I can live with a shade less detail (even though things worked out fine) than wasting time setting up gear and losing the shot.

As for the locale, This small town of Williamsport was, according to their website, under consideration to be the nation’s capitol by none other than George Washington himself.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 640, 1/200 @ f/8

C&O Hancock

Here is a shot of behind the aqueduct on the C&O canal in Hancock, MD. I took this on the great day I had that I mentioned in my “Big Pool” post.

Canon 5D markII, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 160, 1/50 @ f/8

Flip

She hasn’t been on here in a while, So here’s a photo of miss Rachael doing one her dance flips when we were in Baltimore a few years back in Fells Point at the Harbor.

Canon 5D markII, EF 24-70 2.8, ISO 640, 1/1600 @f/5.6

Looking Up At The Old Exec Part II

Here Is another look at the Old Executive Office Building.

Canon 5D markII, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 320, 1/200 @ f/11

Looking Up At The Old Exec

This is a shot of the Old Executive Office Building which is just west of the White House. It is a city block long and almost as wide. It was built between 1871 and 1888. It houses staff from the White House as well as other government employees. Recently it had undergone a facelift of sorts, with detailed cleaning of the stone and repainting of all the wood trim. If you ever come to D.C., this place is worth checking out as it is a beautiful building.

Canon 5D markII, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 320, 1/500 @ f/8

Come See The Antique Man

Last summer Sheila and I had a day to ourselves and we decided to hit some antique stores in Baltimore. There is a section on Howard street called “Antique Row” and we went there first. After about an hour we were at a lost of where to go next. Then I remembered of this place I discovered while milling about Fells Point on Fleet St. called The Antique Man. I had taken a shot of the front of the building weeks before, but it was closed so I had no clue of what it was all about. We got to the store during open hours and let me say, it is pretty fascinating to say the least. Now I’m the one who usually goes into these places kicking and screaming because I can get bored pretty quick. Not this place. Not only do they have your standard antique fare, but they also have a lot of crazy art, collectables, and my favorite – artifacts from various carnival and circus side shows including posters, banners and yes, a mummified two headed giant named Kap-Dwa. Awesome.

Canon 5D markII, EF 24-70 2.8, ISO 320, 1/500 @ f/8

Torn

The thing I like about street art is the fact that it comes in many styles. The piece in the photo above is paper glued on a brick wall. I actually found it by accident while shooting other street art. What intrigues me about this piece is the fact that it doesn’t seem (to me at least) that this artwork has deteriorated on it’s own. It almost looks as if someone did not like the subject and tried to tear it down.

Canon 5D markII, EF 24-70 2.8 L, ISO 160, 1/250 @ f/8

BIG POOL

This year I made a conscious effort to shoot fall colors here in Maryland. In my spare time I have driven many miles chasing the leaves of color, even driving as far as at least four to five hours away from my home. The problem is that here in the Mid-Atlantic the fall colors can be quite fickle. One day the colors are almost peak (which is not what I want), and the next they have peaked but by the time I get a chance to grab my gear and get out shooting, they are gone. Earlier last week I knew that the colors were almost here and had planned the following saturday for shooting. As the days went by I could see the colors get stronger and more vibrant. Then last thursday I happened to be on the phone with a client who actually lived in a part of the state where I was most excited to shoot, the western part of the state which is about three to four hours away. I told her of my plans for upcoming weekend, and she relayed to me the fact that the colors there had in fact peaked and moreover, the leaves were mostly gone from the trees. Even though I was not happy about this news, I was grateful because I at least would not waste gas and travel that far for nothing.

But now I had a new dilemma. Where now? I had no clue of where to go. I don’t like looking online for places because for me the whole idea is to get out, explore, and find my own way without being influenced by something I saw on the web. That’s when I realized that I had seen the week before when I was looking for fall colors a sign on the highway that read “Big Pool”. The sign was brown so I knew it was a state park. It is about an hour away from the house so at least if it was a bust, I could at turn around and go somewhere near home to more familiar places. Shooting in places that I knew was not an option that I was thrilled about. I really wanted someplace new. Then, that night after going to bed, I awakened by the heavy sound of a hard rain absolutely pummeling the tin roof on the side porch of my house right outside my bedroom window. I panicked as I knew that the heavier the rain, the more likely that I would be left with no leaves on the trees by the weekend.

By the time saturday came, I ate a hardy breakfast, grabbed my gear that I had packed the night before, jumped in my car and hit the highway. As I was driving further and further away from home I kept an eye on the landscape of trees as I flew up the highway. Things weren’t looking so good. The more I drove, the less the leaves were on the trees. Undaunted, I decided to stick to the plan and not bail on this project which my gut was telling me to do. I finally arrived at Big Pool which is actually a pond of water created for the C&O canal back in the nineteenth century. When I got out of the car I saw that not only were there hardly any leaves to be found, the pond itself looked dismal, almost dry. To say that I was unhappy was an understatement. I sulked about the situation for a few minutes and finally I thought “Enough!” “Get back in the car and find something else.” And that’s exactly what I did.

As I was leaving I saw an unmarked dirt road that headed into the woods. I followed the road for awhile looking for a spot to setup my camera and at least get something that I would be happy with. Before too long I realized the the road was coming to an end I would have to turn around and go home. However, right when I reached the end of the road I found myself in a clearing that paralleled a river. I got out of my car to scout the location and saw that not only was this a good spot, but all the trees along this part of the river still had their leaves and were in full color. I could not have been happier. I set up shop along the banks of the river and snapped away. After about five minutes I had what I needed, so I got in my car and left. This put me in such a great mood that it emboldened me to explore three more parks that I had never been to before on my way home and needless to say, things were just as successful at these places as it was at Big Pool. Seven hours later I finally made it home with enough fall photos to last me until next year. Pics from the other parks will be posted later.

Canon 5D mark II, EF 50 1.2 L, ISO 800, 1/125 @ f/8

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