When I started diving into these posts for Washington, DC, I didn’t realize two things: how amazing I truly felt the experience was and that I have the unrivaled ability to ramble especially when telling a story. With that in mind, dear followers and readers, I promise to keep this next (and final) installment of our journey to the bare minimum. Enjoy!
Dark, Silent, Reflection
As part of my photography resolutions for this year
, I wanted to push the boundaries of my images. I have very little experience shooting at night and even less with using extended shutter speeds to create effects with water and light. With that in mind, I was excited to visit the monuments and memorials once more, but with darkness all around (as dark as it can get in downtown DC).
We hit the WWII memorial again, which was disappointing as the lights and fountains were off, then on to the Lincoln Memorial and then back toward the Vietnam and Korean war memorials, where I got to try another technique I had never thought about, light painting.
For those who aren’t aware, light painting is basically what it sounds like: you set the camera up so that little to no ambient light is coming in the shutter and using an extended shutter speed (3 seconds or more works well), you take a flashlight or light source of your choosing and “paint” an object. Whatever the light falls on is only what the camera records. The last step is putting them all together in Photoshop. You can see my first real light painting above.
One of the most memorable experiences for me personally was when Dave and I headed down to the Vietnam Memorial. With my father being a Vietnam veteran, I was humbled to see this tribute to the experience that was that conflict.
When we got there after hours, it was so dark and quiet. Even in the middle of downtown Washington, you could hear a pin drop and both Dave and I quietly worked angles, light, reflections, and shutter speeds without barely a word; it was pretty intense.
After that, we trekked back to the condo and crashed. With all the concrete we walked on, a soft bed was well deserved. Until the next day…
Why Aren’t There Escalators at Arlington?
While we fully intended to get up before dawn to catch the sunrise over the Tidal Basin, these two warriors weren’t really up for that, but we did end up there shortly after dawn to catch the rising light. After another decent shoot around the Basin and Jefferson Memorial (where I caught the image you see here), we hopped on the Metro (with the throbbing ache in my hips and legs, as I’m sure Dave’s too, this was an easy decision for the rest of our trip) and headed out to Arlington National Cemetery.
Again, I was humbled. Arlington is both beautiful and somber. That’s probably why I didn’t feel like taking as many photographs as I did in other parts of DC; there are just some things that you have to experience and you can’t really capture in a still frame. One experience I’d like to share with you is President Kennedy’s Grave.
When you walk up to the small plateau where he is buried with Jackie and John Jr., there are stairs and throngs upon throngs of people. However, when you approach the grave-site itself and step up to see the “eternal flame,” I was truly amazed; the area was dead silent.
All those tourists all gathered around, but no one said a word. With the notion of respect for the dead hanging heavy in the air, I didn’t even turn my camera on until we walked down from the plateau.
We saw the Tomb of the Unknown and all the other memorials, but I was most captivated with another moment as well that occurred near the end of our Arlington excursion.
As we came around the corner of the U.S.S. Maine memorial, we noticed a few people standing still, watching something across the cemetery; it was a full military funeral procession, soldiers, horse-drawn carriage, marching band, and all. We stood and watched silently as the progression came our way and passed by. No one moved or spoke until they were well out of sight. Powerful stuff, let me tell you.
Second Day Wrap Up
After we made it back across the Potomac, we made our way to the National Archives to catch the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights, then on to the conference center to get pre-registered for Photoshop World.
With sunset coming, we decided to trek back to the World War II Memorial in the hopes that the lights and water would be on. We lucked out and spent almost an hour shooting the blue hour and the falling night. My favorite from that series is shown to the right.
And, as any self-respecting tourist in Washington, DC is required to do, we made sure to pass by the “House America Built” on our way home. Of course, the police officers made sure that we knew no tripods were allowed around the White House. I didn’t snap any photos as I was too busy looking for Navy SEAL teams in the bushes around the gates after a story Dave told me about “men in black” standing in the trees the last time he visited the capital city. No luck though…
We made our way back to the condo and quickly drifted off to sleep. The next day came the start of the best photographic and design conference I’ve ever been to and probably ever will. More on that to come…