Vado a Napoli

On August 4th I’ll finally be going back to Napoli, Italia. It feels like forever since I was last there. I had hoped to see Italy during the spring but it didn’t work out that way. My guess is that I’ll have to save that for a future trip years from now. It’ll give me something to look forward to. I’m anxious to get out and start taking pics, I’ve hit a sort of wall here in DC, I haven’t been motivated to really take any photos lately. I ordered 3 rolls of Kodachrome 64 from B&H Photo that are supposed to be delivered tomorrow (!!). I’m really, really excited about using the film since it seems to have been designed for Europe and I’ve never tried it before. Since Kodak has stopped production the price has been driven up quite a bit and it’s becoming harder to find. For years it was the film of choice of National Geographic photographers. There’s currently an exhibit going on at National Geographic in Washington DC called Kodachrome Culture: The American Tourist in Europe.  If you get a chance you should definitely check it out. I think I’ll be using a lot more film on this trip, it forces me to be more creative and selective with my shots. The only problem might be in getting film developed and scanned. I’ll have to figure out how to go into a film store and tell them what I want. It’ll be a test of italian speaking abilities that’s for sure.
I’m hoping to update this blog more while I’m in Italy, I’ll have a lot more free time on my hands and will really have no excuse.

8th St SE


8th St SE, Washington, DC

Washington is constantly undergoing changes – buildings being razed, others being built – but as much as it changes it stays the same. I love wandering around and finding traces of what the city used to look like; little nooks and crannies that have managed to resist the hands of time and still retain some of their original character. Sometimes I wonder what someone who lived 100 years ago would think about what the city currently looks like. When I meet people that have spent their entire lives in DC I always ask them how much it’s changed. The answer is usually something like “it’s completely different now than it was X number of years ago” which of course piques my curiosity. What’s different? When did it change? What do they think about it? These questions usually encourage the person to open up and tell me a brief story about their life as it pertains to this space in the world. This gets me to thinking about what I’ll be telling people 20, 30, 50 years from now. I’m sure things will have changed I just wonder how much.

on the bridge


Every summer nature puts on a beautiful display at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC. Dozens of ponds contain a wide variety of lotuses and waterlilies. Water birds, such as herons and osprey, can also be seen searching for fish among the plants. Turtles, frogs, dragonflies, and damselflies are also commonly sighted. Located on the Anacostia River in north east DC it can be reached by car and also by kayak and canoe. The park contains the only remaining tidal marsh in DC as well. If you walk out on the wooden bridge into the marsh you can get an idea of what DC might have looked like before civilization moved in. If you haven’t been there before do go check it out, you won’t believe that such a place could exist in the city.

The park is open everyday from 7am to 4pm. When the temperature reaches between 85 and 90 degrees the waterlilies will close. The best time to see them blooming is in the morning. Luckily this summer has been cool so the window of opportunity to see the bloom is probably a little longer than in previous years.

Tire Sale


Almost New Auto. New York Ave, Washington, DC

I’ve spent quite a bit of time driving down New York Ave over the past 5 months, what with italian classes at Casa Italiana every Sunday morning, and various other activities in the Chinatown/Penn Quarter part of town. Every time I would drive down New York Ave I’d drive by two places that I found incredibly interesting. The first is this that I wrote about before, the second is the Almost New Auto and Tire shop. I just loved the colors and, of course, the hubcaps adorning the outside. When I drive into the city on Sunday mornings for italian I’m always running late (it’s a personality defect that I’m trying to fix) and never have time to stop but I finally decided on my way out of town on June 4th to stop and take some pictures. I had my Canon AE-1 loaded with CVS 200 color film (I seriously love this stuff) and my Canon EOS Elan 7 loaded with black and white. (I don’t remember what kind at the moment. I could go find it but…eh. Whatever.) I still haven’t gotten the black and white developed yet but I’m looking forward to seeing the results – I had my 24mm wide angle lens on the camera which should provide some interesting angle exaggeration. At least that’s what I’m hoping. Oddly enough just 3 days after I shot this place the Washington Post Magazine ran a similar picture of the same building in their weekly Second Glance column. I might be the only one that finds it amusing that after I waited for so long to photograph the place the Washington Post decided to shoot it around the same time. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one amused by that.

Artomatic 2009


Bikes lined up outside Artomatic. Navy Yard, Near Southeast, Capitol Riverfront, whatever else you want to call it, Washington, DC.

I am such a slacker. At least when it comes to this blog. It’s been over a month since I last wrote anything and that’s just horrible. I apologize and promise to try harder next time.
So what have I been up to in the last month? Well Artomatic of course! It’s only the greatest non-juried art festival in the DC metro area and 11 of my photos are hanging up on the 9th floor in the NE corner (space 10). If you haven’t already gone down to 55 M St, SE (west exit of the Navy Yard metro station; the building on top of the station is 55 M St) then I suggest you do so! Artomatic runs from May 29 until July 5 so you still have plenty of time. Days and hours are listed here.
While you are there please go check out the walls of my friends, they will knock your socks off. Also I am featured on the walls of two of them so you know their stuff is good. 🙂
Angela Kleis: 9th floor
Davin Tarr: 9th floor
Erin Lassahn: 9th floor
Matt Steenhoek: 9th floor
Jim Darling: 8th floor
Mo Fogarty: 8th floor
Stacey Viera: 6th floor
Phil Yabut: 5th floor
Ramune Rastonis: 4th floor
Edward Underwood: 3rd floor
Karon Flage: 2nd floor

Patterson Park, Baltimore, MD

On Saturday, May 2, 2009 the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race was held in Baltimore, MD. Racers build their own vehicles out of whatever materials they want. According to the website “Kinetic Sculptures are amphibious, human powered works of art custom built for the race.” The sculptures must be able to go in water, through sand and mud, uphill, and all over the city in order to win the race.
This was the first time I’d ever gone to see the race and it was amazingly fun. I can’t believe I’ve never gone before.  Since it was raining in the morning I got a late start and didn’t get to Baltimore until around 12:45pm during the middle of the water leg of the race. I drove to Canton and while driving down Boston St I started seeing people in crazy outfits and a couple of the sculptures. Realizing that the amphibious activity had already taken place (big bummer) I decided to try and find my way up to Patterson Park even though I had nothing more than a vague idea that it was north of my location at that moment. (I’ll admit that even though I was born and raised in MD I have spent very little time in Baltimore outside of Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor. Yes, I know how embarrassingly lame that sounds and is, you don’t need to tell me. I had previously been to Canton twice so I think that helped.) Through my awesome power of dead reckoning I managed to find the park before most of the sculptures arrived.
Aside from the amphibious exercise the obstacle course was what I was most anxious to see. After waiting around for 30 minutes or so they began the run through the sand. Those sculptures that relied on bicycles, or some variation thereof, tended to have a lot of difficulty getting through the sand. For anyone who’s ever ridden a bike on the beach you know how challenging it can be. Imagine having not just yourself but chairs, towels, umbrellas, coolers, and anything else you’d take to the beach on the bike with you – that’s about what the racers were dealing with. The more people involved in the pedaling the easier it seemed to be although that was not always the case.
One thing became clear the longer I was there and that was that there were two crowd favorites – the P.L.A.T.Y.P.U.S. and Fifi! P.L.A.T.Y.P.U.S. was easily the largest sculpture there, I believe around 26ft long and probably 15ft high (?), I’m not 100% on dimensions. 8 – 9 guys were involved in the pedaling and instead of bike tires (like they could support the weight of that thing, ha!) it had car tires and the base looked like it was the actual chassis of a car. With hundreds of people crowded around the sand pit officials started yelling at us to all move back. We realized it was time for P.L.A.T.Y.P.U.S. to take their run at the sand. They had somehow managed to back it up a slight incline in the path and with everyone on board pedaling it came flying down the hill at break-neck speed and blew right through the sand like it wasn’t even there. The roar from the crowd was amazing, everyone was jumping up and down screaming, myself included. Fifi’s run through the sand wasn’t quite as amazing but it made it through pretty easily and every little girl in the park was shrieking their approval and excitement.
After the sand came the mud. This was clearly what everyone had come to see as the crowd had increased exponentially since the sculptures had arrived in the park. According to some people who had attended previous races they had changed things up this year – instead of being on flat ground the mud was now on a slope and involved more bumps that before. Racers would have to pedal uphill before even reaching the mud and continue uphill all the way through it. If they though the sand was hard they were in for a rude awakening with the mud. As was the case with the sand racers with bike tires had a much tougher go. A 15 yr old girl on a bike contraption that resembled a tank took somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 minutes to get through it. Amazingly enough she actually did it and received probably the loudest cheers of the day. Her classmate also had difficulty but managed to get through in a shorter amount of time. Again P.L.A.T.Y.P.U.S. had very little trouble and Fifi managed to make it through unscathed which made the shrieking girls very happy.

All around it was a very fun day. I would love to actually participate next year because it looked like even more fun to be involved. Anyone want to start a team and get building?

About a month ago I was on my way downtown when I noticed all of these newspaper boxes lined up out in front of the Washington Times warehouse. Since the newspaper business is tanking it’s not surprising that these boxes are no longer on the street. I wanted to stop and get a picture so badly but could not figure out how to get there. For those that don’t know New York Ave at this point has a service road paralleling it and if you miss the little turn off you can’t get onto the road heading westbound, you have to U-turn and take the exit for the Times buildings. Of course I didn’t know you had to take the exit so I went up and down NY Ave a couple times without finding my way. (Some cartographer I am…) Eventually I managed to get there and snapped some pics. I wanted to get more up close shots but since it’s technically private property and people were there working I thought it better not to push my luck. On my way home my car decided to die right in the middle of New York Ave but at least I’d already gotten what I came for.

By the way, this was taken with CVS brand 200 ISO film. I believe the film is actually Fuji film being sold under the store brand name since it says “Made in Japan” on the box. And a friend told me that was the case. For under $2 a roll I couldn’t resist. I’m really happy with the way the colors turned out, pretty saturated but not cartoony. I’d recommend it if you’re looking to play around with film again.

hotdog stand


Constitution Ave, Washington, DC

In Washington, as in every major city, food vendors are ubiquitous. Found in front of all the major museums and on many streets in the downtown area they are usually swarmed with tourists, at least during the day. Once the tourists go back to their hotels or home for dinner they make the perfect subject for night photography. Without a tripod I had to improvise and use a bench to steady my camera. Seems I never go out prepared and have to make do with what I can find nearby. I’m considering showing this and a few other similar night shots in Artomatic this year. I might have to get them and some other things printed before I make a final decision.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC has ended and all that’s left are little pink petals on the ground. After a morning of hard, steady rain very few petals still clung to the trees. Tourists wandered around snapping photos and admiring the remnants but it was nothing compared to the deluge of people that descended on the Tidal Basin during the peak weekend. The trees have survived another year and will sit quietly by themselves mostly unnoticed until next spring when the invasion will happen all over again.

Rescue 1

So my latest roll of film didn’t turn out so well. I had a whole bunch of shots that I was really looking forward to seeing too. Last week I finished the roll and brought it to the local Target for processing. I wasn’t having prints made, just development and a CD. After waiting a couple hours – so much for 1 hour service – I picked up my film and being so excited I looked at it in the car. There were red splotches all over every frame. I was hoping (even though realistically I knew it was ruined) that it was just the bad light in my car. I got home and put in the CD, opened the folder and everything was red. Apparently the roll of film had either gotten stuck to itself or another roll of film during processing. They only charged me $2.86 so I didn’t think it was worth going back and complaining. The best I’ve been able to do it convert some of the shots to black and white, it makes the photos appear at least slightly less damaged.
This is DCFD Rescue 1 in Chinatown, Washington, DC. At one point they had both engines siting side by side in front of the garage but I couldn’t cross the street fast enough to get a picture. This was the best I could do.